BRENTWOOD — While some disaster response organizations are pulling out of Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines, Southern Baptists remain on the ground, helping neglected communities rebuild homes, schools, and livelihoods.
Disaster response organizations in five Southern Baptist state conventions, including Tennessee, have each adopted an area of the Philippines, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response. Seven teams of volunteers already have served, and as many as 10 more could be scheduled in the next month.
“This is a long-term response, and the need is massive. We are initiating large-scale work with communities, local believers, and volunteers and will be constantly assessing and gauging the effectiveness of our choices,” Palmer said. “Please continue to pray for families in need in the Philippines. Pray for our team members and volunteers as they help in the face of overwhelming needs. Pray that we choose the most strategic and effective places to work that truly help people physically and spiritually.”
Southern Baptists have donated about $1.3 million for the relief effort through the International Mission Board and BGR. The main priorities in the work are repair and construction of houses and schools, along with water systems.
IMB has arranged for a volunteer coordinator to be assigned to the recovery. When that person begins work in mid- to late-February, the number of volunteers from the United States involved in the effort can be greatly expanded, Palmer said.
David Acres, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief director, said the TBC will be sending a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to northern Cebu Island in the Philippines later this month.
The team will work out logistics such as where teams will stay and what teams will need to do, Acres noted.
Throughout the year teams of six to eight volunteers will travel to Cebu to help rebuild homes and schools, he continued.
While Tennessee is the lead convention, volunteers also will be involved from state conventions from Region 4, which includes Tennessee, Acres said.
He expects volunteers from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota-Wisconsin will join Tennessee Baptists in the Philippines this year.
“We will be working together,” Acres said.
Palmer voiced gratitude “to all those who have helped in this response, both those who have worked so hard in the Philippines and those who continue to give generously to make this effort possible.” He also lauded “the teamwork of those involved and the patience of those wanting to get involved.”
“While no response is perfect, we are in a good place to maximize our impact in the Philippines,” Palmer said.
Donations for the work in the Philippines are being accepted and can be sent to TBC, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. Be sure to mark the funds for Philippines Rebuild, Acres said.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Acres at (615) 371-7927.