After three days surveying the damage from Hurricane Dorian, an eight-member team of Southern Baptists returned to the United States with a keen appreciation of the Bahamian people and a commitment to partner with Baptist churches on the Grand Bahama island to help them rebuild and expand their ministry in the community.
Representatives of Baptist Global Response (BGR), Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), the International Mission Board, and two state Baptist conventions toured the island last week to scout out ways for Southern Baptists to support Baptist churches on the islands.
“The island is recovering quite quickly,” said Shane McGivney, the director of Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief.
“The Bahamians are an amazing people,” he noted. “They are a very spiritual people. They love the Lord. From what I understand, a couple of weeks ago when our team was there, they weren’t quite smiling. They were still in shock. But when we were there this past week, they were smiling and laughing. This is a very resilient people. They understand that their hope is in the Lord, and they are loving on their church families and their communities.”
During the team’s time in the Bahamas, they finalized partnerships between 13 state Baptist conventions and 10 area churches. Several state conventions will work together on some of the most intense projects. Through the partnerships, the state SBDR teams will help rebuild the churches and support opportunities to minister in the community.
These partnerships come less than a month after Hurricane Dorian rocked the island with historic devastation. After sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, the most severe hurricane in the island’s history killed at least 56 people. Officials are still reporting at least 600 people are missing. Initial reports suggested the hurricane made 70,000 people homeless.
Jeff Palmer, the chief executive officer of Baptist Global Response, wrote in a report after the team’s return last week that the availability of local services, food supplies and other goods are returning to normal on the island.
“Some homes and structures can be rebuilt. Others will simply need to be leveled and rebuilt,” Palmer wrote. “There is much water damage in many areas that will require specialized cleaning and sanitizing.”
BGR is leading and coordinating Southern Baptist engagement in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
The SBDR partnerships will focus on rebuilding 10 damaged Baptist churches. According to Sam Porter, the national director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, SBDR will do this with the hope that these congregations can become community hubs as the Grand Bahama island recovers.
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Source: Baptist Press