April 28, 2015
April 28, 2015
Thanks to Chuck Johnston, Carolyn Matthews and the LABC Handbell Ensemble, Stan Fong, Jessamyn Pattison and all who were a part of the beautiful worship service on April 26. A person who has been a visitor in worship with us for a number of weeks said to me, “Let me say again what I said last week – every Sunday is different, every Sunday is good.”
This Sunday we begin a month long emphasis on our identity as Stewards of All Creation. My sermon is titled “The Good Earth.” The central Scripture is Deuteronomy 8: 7-10. In this text the wilderness weary people of Israel are promised a home in a rich and bounteous land.
In my sermon I will lift up Mt. Everest as a symbol of the Good Earth.
- Everest is beautiful.
- It can be harsh (We pray for the people of Nepal as they deal with the impact of the massive earthquake that struck there this past Saturday.)
- It is vulnerable. (The Indian government is sending an experienced climbing unit up the mountain to recover tons of trash left at high altitude by scores of climbing expeditions.)
- It is life giving. (The Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolungma or “Holy Mother.” The Nepalese name is Sagarmatha or “Holy Mother Peak.)
Communion will be central to our worship this first Sunday of the month. We will acknowledge that the elements of communion, the bread and the cup are life giving gifts of a loving Creator and of a Good Earth.
American Baptists Respond to Nepal Earthquake
With each new day, the count of those killed or injured rises, as rescue and relief efforts continue in the aftermath of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Although initial reports estimated injuries and loss of life in the hundreds, by Tuesday, April 28, Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center announced that the official death toll had exceeded 5,000 and that some 11,000 have been found injured, according to NBC. These numbers are expected to rise as rescue workers reach remote villages. An estimated 450,000 have been internally displaced by the quake and 8 million have been effected.
As a first response to this disaster, $25,000 in emergency relief funds from One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) has been released to trusted partners of American Baptist International Ministries (IM) in Nepal. Additional relief aid is urgently needed.
This initial grant of $25,000 will support domestic Nepali Christian service organizations and on-the-ground relief efforts. The Nepal Baptist Church Council (NBCC), an International Ministries (IM) partner for more than 20 years, will receive $10,000 to provide food, water, shelter and medical attention for the victims. Human Development and Community Services (HDCS), IM’s partner in Nepal for 11 years, will receive $10,000 to help its two hospitals care for the injured. The United Mission to Nepal (UMN), an IM partner for over 30 years, will receive $5,000 for its initial relief efforts.
IM Development Worker in Nepal for more than 21 years Carole Sydnor states, “I have been deeply concerned for the safety of IM’s colleagues and my personal friends whom we have known and worked with for so many years. I am also saddened by the devastation of so many places where I walked with my children when they were young. In this time of crisis-often frustrated by limited communication with so many people-I have to trust in God’s love and care for them. And I have to trust God for people like yourself who will give to the relief endeavors of International Ministries. Thank you for sharing my care for this country with your support.” Currently residing in the United States with her husband, Charles, also a former IM development worker in Nepal, Sydnor returns to Nepal periodically to serve with IM partners there.
“We know already that the needs are enormous,” stated Lisa Rothenberger, ABCUSA World Relief officer. “At the same time we are already seeing a strong response from our American Baptist congregations and a few of IM’s international partners. This generous response enables us to walk alongside the Nepali people today and into the future as they rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”
A total of $2,500 has been received already from IM’s partners in India, including the American Baptist Foreign Mission Legacy (ABFML) Trust, Balasore Technical School (BTS) and a personal contribution from the Principal of BTS and Executive Director/Secretary of ABFML Trust, Mr. Ramesh Kumar, and his family, friends and students.
Kumar related his prayers and concerns in a recent email: “We deeply mourn those who lost their lives in the natural disaster in Nepal. The board of directors of the Trust is continually praying for the affected people as you are taking initiatives to help those victims.”
Nepali Baptist churches have quickly stepped up to respond to the disaster. “We at NBCC formed a Disaster Response committee to pull the resources for relief work,” wrote the Reverend Jirman Rai, general secretary of NBCC.
“Our heart goes to the survivors who lost their beloved ones, and to those who are still struggling in fear and in the devastated areas,” said the Reverend Dr. Benjamin Chan, IM area director for Asia. “IM has worked closely with NBCC and HDCS to build capacity and to enhance social development in Nepal. Our priority is to provide immediate relief assistance to the survivors in cooperation with partners in Nepal and through the global Baptist network.”
Churches in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are asked to keep the Nepali families, emergency response workers and government in prayer. Additional financial relief aid is urgently needed.
- To make a tax-deductible contribution online, click here.
- Give through your church, designating your gift for “OGHS-Nepal Earthquake Relief.”
- By mail, make your check payable to International Ministries. Write on the memo line, “OGHS-Nepal Earthquake Relief.” Mail to International Ministries; P.O. Box 851; Valley Forge, PA 19482.
One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and the development of assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches. Learn more at http://www.abc-oghs.org/.