NASHVILLE (BP) – In an introductory video that played before Send Relief President Bryant Wright’s report, he said: “Together, we can meet needs and change lives for people on the other side of the world and right down the street. Together, as Southern Baptists, we can be an unstoppable force of hope,” as clips of compassion projects rolled.
With a staff composed of personnel from both the International Mission Board (IMB) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB), Send Relief is an operative model of Southern Baptist cooperation.
Send Relief became a partner ministry of the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) mere weeks before COVID-19 became a global crisis touching every country around the world. And in the middle of these extraordinary circumstances, 2.8 million people served through missionaries and local believers in the first year of partnership.
Nearly 1,000 U.S. churches and hundreds of international missionaries participated to distribute help and hope. And most important, they recorded more than 23,000 new professions of faith.
Wright shared these statistics at the first ever Send Relief Report to SBC messengers at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting in Nashville.
International operations are led by seasoned missionary Jason Cox, while the North American ministry efforts are managed by former student minister and public servant Josh Benton. The two division leaders have focused the past year’s efforts on equipping local churches through trainings at one of Send Relief’s 17 national ministry centers and through supporting international ministry projects and partners.
Wright shared the sobering details of one of these international projects in his report.
“In South Asia, a family was dying of starvation. The mother and father made the heartbreaking decision to poison themselves and their children, so they wouldn’t have to endure a lingering death,” Wright told the audience. “In the final excruciating hours before executing their plan, a Send Relief partner arrived on their doorstep with emergency food rations, saving all of their lives. As a result, both the parents came to know Christ.”
Wright ended the presentation with a call back to the Great Commission and a reaffirmation of Send Relief’s goal to be more than just another humanitarian aid organization, but rather a compassion ministry with Christ at the center.
Outgoing SBC president J.D. Greear followed the report by leading the room of thousands to pray for Wright and Send Relief out loud, so Wright could “hear Southern Baptists calling out to God on his behalf.”
In comments to Baptist Press following his formal presentation to messengers, Wright clarified that Send Relief plays a support role to their primary disaster response partner, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR).
“Our role is to provide SBDR with supplies, materials and equipment,” he said. “The best way Southern Baptists can support their state’s disaster relief efforts is to give and volunteer through their state conventions.”
Natalie Sarrett writes for Send Relief, and K. Faith Morgan Wroten writes for the North American Mission Board.