By Steven Porter
Pastors keep asking me how to respond to the crises in Haiti, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. My answer: PRAY and then GIVE to the Offering for Global Missions. Why? Because presence matters.
Moments like these are the reason our Fellowship pools resources to support committed and highly trained people whom God has called to serve as the presence of Christ in a broken world. Because of the Offering, we don’t have to waste precious time and resources to stand up new structures or identify trustworthy partners to ensure the aid we provide actually reaches those in need. We’ve already done that.
CBF supports long-term field personnel living in Haiti, Lebanon, and among communities of Afghan refugees. No, we cannot airlift people from the Kabul airport, but we can befriend and support Afghan families when they arrive in the Carolinas, Houston, Ft. Worth, or San Francisco, because people like Rick and Lita Sample, Kim and Marc Wyatt, and Karen Morrow have been welcoming Afghan refugees for over two decades.
We cannot prevent earthquakes in Haiti, but we can heal wounds in areas inaccessible to hospitals, because Jenny Jenkins has been running mobile medical clinics and building a network of rural health partners since 2008. And we can support pan-Baptist efforts to rebuild under Eddy Ruble’s leadership in international disaster response coalitions. Likewise, we cannot rebuild Lebanon’s economy, but we can provide emergency relief, healing, and the hope of Christ to refugees and families in poverty through the longstanding work of Chaouki and Maha Boulos and the recent addition of Christine, a social worker with specialized training in trauma therapy.
Moments like these are the reason we give, and our CBF field personnel are the reason our gifts make such a difference in an era that British theologian David Ford described as one of “multiple overwhelmings.” And that was before COVID-19.
The title of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera has always struck a chord with me—even more so in the time of COVID-19. It invites a question that all of our congregations have asked over the past 18 months: How do we love our neighbors in a time of pandemic? It is at once the most basic and most difficult question of Christian witness. On it and the love of God, Jesus teaches, “hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40).
Surely masks, social distancing, and vaccines are a good start on an answer to that question, but the love of Christ compels us do that and more. The love of Christ compels us to be the presence of Christ among people and places otherwise forgotten and forsaken by the world. CBF field personnel make such presence possible.
How can you help in Haiti, Afghanistan, and Lebanon? Pray for our neighbors and give to the Offering for Global Missions, because presence matters.