International Ministries sent a $7,500 emergency grant to help the Georgian Baptists in their work with refugees and people who are displaced within Georgia because of the conflict. The Republic of Georgia is a country adjacent to Russia that was invaded by Russian forces in August. Additional requests for help are expected. Contributions are being accepted at: www.internationalministries.org/read/give_to_georgia_(republic_of)_relief.
Merab Gaprindashvili, the Acting Archbishop in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, had to flee from his own home. He reported:
“There are a lot of destroyed houses and many dead and wounded people in the villages. We do not know yet what has happened with our brothers and sisters. There are 35 baptized members living in the hottest spots in the conflict zone, and about 100 members in the neighbourhood of Gori. There are many things to be done. I have just received a call from a regional secretary of the Kartli region, who said, there are already refugees staying in his house and they are expecting more. We will be more than happy if you can contribute something for the benefit of the refugees.”
Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, has had a close working relationship with American Baptist Churches USA for many years. He has denounced “injustice, aggression and conflict at the cost of civilian lives.” In an email report to Ethics Daily prior to the accord, the Bishop said, “we pray that the conflict is peacefully resolved and opposing sides reconciled, mutual forgiveness and acceptance exercised. We mourn the death of soldiers, children, men, women, and elderly from both sides.” [UPDATE: read Malkhaz' appeal]
Reid Trulson, Executive Director of International Ministries, and Charles Jones, Area Director for Europe, Middle East and North Africa, have both been in contact with Georgian Baptist leaders. Trulson said, “We are deeply concerned about the destruction taking place in Georgia and are praying fervently for the people of Georgia as well as for those who are causing this chaos.”
Jones said, “Our hearts are broken and our spirits saddened by the escalation of conflict and the use of military force in Georgia. We grieve and agonize with all those who have lost loved ones, with those who are suffering from injuries, and with those who now live in fear and anxiety. We are praying that the Lordship of our Prince of Peace will transform this tragedy into occasion for rejoicing and hope.”
International Ministries has had a relationship with the Baptist movement in Georgia for over ten years. The Baptist Union is made up of 72 congregations and 5,085 members. IM partners with the Baptist Union in church planting and discipleship work. The Xtreme Team, (an IM sponsored young people’s mission exposure team) served in Georgia during the summer of 2005.
For the latest news on this crisis go to http://www.alertnet.org/index.htm