By Aaron Weaver
NOTE: This post has been updated on September 6 with new information on CBF Bahamas pastors and an update on efforts of CBF Disaster Response as well as how to continue praying for our sisters and brothers in the Bahamas.
DECATUR, Ga.—The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is requesting prayer for victims of Hurricane Dorian as well as financial gifts to support disaster response efforts in the Bahamas, where the Fellowship has nine partner churches located on the islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco and Acklins.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley issued a call to prayer on September 1 for the people of the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian was beginning to cause devastating damage on the Abaco Islands.
“I ask all of our Cooperative Baptist Fellowship community to join me in praying for all of the people of the Bahamas, and especially for our CBF Bahamas partner congregations as they experience the terror of this storm,” Baxley said. “Our calling is to pray fervently for the safety of our sisters and brothers in Christ in the Bahamas and to give generously toward the relief efforts that will be needed.”
Baxley noted that in July the Bahamas hosted the global Baptist family for the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance.
“In I Corinthians, Paul reminds us that, in the body of Christ, if one member suffers, all suffer,” Baxley said. “Not even two months ago, Baptists in the Bahamas were gracious and generous hosts to the global Baptist community in the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance. Now we are called to pray for these sisters and brothers in a time of tremendous difficulty and stand prepared to respond.”
“We need you” says CBF Bahamas leader
Rachael Johnson, a two-time alum of CBF’s Student.Go internship program and member of Lifegate Ministries Church in Abaco—a CBF partner congregation, shared on social media September 2 that Abaco has suffered significant damage including the destruction of many homes. She noted that Haitian migrant communities had been “completely destroyed” and those at the hurricane shelters had to be evacuated. Johnson, who had sought safety in Nassau with family, later reported learning that her home in Abaco had also been destroyed.
“My dear friends, we need you. Please know that we are so grateful for each of you and the wider CBF Family. We are comforted in times like these knowing that we are a part of Beloved Community.”
CBF Disaster Response sending shipment for temporary shelter and recovery
CBF Disaster Response is preparing a small shipment of pop-up tents, water filters, solar phone chargers and chlorine generators for purifying larger volumes of water. This initial shipment will be sent to Grand Bahama and Abaco as soon as strategic airports or habors are open to traffic, according to Rick Burnette, CBF Disaster Response Domestic Manager.
Burnette said that CBF Disaster Response, in partnership with CBF Florida, continues to seek input and direction from CBF Bahamas leadership related to short- and long-term recovery options. Burnette added that with adequate funding, CBF Disaster Response is preparing to purchase and ship the following items to provide for temporary shelter and recovery:
- 100 six-person pop-up tents that can be installed in sleeping quarters to exclude insects and repel rain during the rebuild phase
- Additional chlorine generators and water filters to provide potable water as well as solar chargers with deep-cycle batteries that can charge up to 10 phones simultaneously
- Tool trailers equipped with generators, construction equipment and tools to replace those lost during the storm and facilitate future rebuilding, although we estimate that building materials may be scarce for months
Go to www.cbf.net/dr-give and give to CBF Disaster Response to support these emergency relief efforts.
New Update on CBF Bahamas pastors
CBF Florida Coordinator Ray Johnson shared Friday an update on CBF Bahamas pastors, noting that they are “all safe and well for the most part.”
“I am happy to say that [Friday morning] I was able to speak personally with three of our pastors from The Bahamas, namely, John McIntosh, Terrance Strachan, and Edwin Pinder,” Johnson said. “They are all safe and well, for the most part. From our conversations, I was able to get reports on the conditions of their communities and on CBF Bahamas’ other pastors and their families. Three of our pastors and their immediate families are still inaccessible, but they are ok: Preston and Carol Cooper, Elon and Maureen McIntosh, and Marvin and Melvern Mills. We need to be in prayer that they can soon be reached either to be evacuated or to begin receiving food and water. Of the other pastors, the homes of Edwin Pinder, Terrance Strachan, Freddie Laing we know are destroyed.”
Johnson encouraged CBF churches to pray for the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama and to support disaster response efforts. He also shared a special ministry request:
“One final request that I have that’s a bit different, but would be a wonderful ministry,” Johnson wrote. “Our Bahamian brothers and sisters are exhausted, even those who are already evacuated and safe. Their homes are gone or uninhabitable. They are living with family members and trying to figure out what to do next. Would you, your church, or a group in your church be able to provide accommodations for a Bahamian family for a short while just to have a cool place, a comfortable bed, a warm meal? You will be blessed and you will be a blessing.”
For additional information, contact Johnson here.
Below are updated ways to pray, serve and give to stand alongside our Bahamian sisters and brothers.
Please pray for the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama. There are still many people who are missing and unaccounted for
Please pray for those in the Bahamas like Rachael Johnson who are beginning the incomprehensible task of finding friends and loved ones, assessing damage, providing help, giving thanks for what was saved and grieving what was lost.
Please pray for those who have begun planning and preparing for the days, weeks, months and years after the storm.
Teams will be needed to support the disaster response efforts in the Bahamas. Please consider how you and your congregation might engage in this ministry. CBF Disaster Response will communicate regarding volunteer opportunities as soon as that information is available.
Please consider supporting the work of CBF Disaster Response today with a special gift. CBF Disaster Response will need to purchase equipment and tools for rebuilding homes and churches as well as additional chlorine generators for water purification, among other needed items.
Give your gift today at www.cbf.net/dr-give.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.