Baptist leaders urge faith-based groups to help ease suffering - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Baptist leaders urge faith-based groups to help ease suffering

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The Ebola crisis in West Africa poses problems beyond the infectious disease. There are difficulties getting food to people who are staying home to avoid exposure.

Faith-based groups say they hope to help, and a local pastor is now involved at the national level of such efforts. While faith-based groups cannot all send people there to help, disaster recovery specialist Marla Bearden says they can send money.

"We are looking for ways we can support our partners that are already in Africa, and that would be through funds, so that they can help feed the people. There's a food crisis, because people are having to stay home and they can't go to school, they can't go to work," said Bearden.

Bearden, with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, was in Lake Charles with other national Baptist leaders, including Reverend Samuel Tolbert, the pastor of Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years. He was recently elected to a national post.

"I have recently been elected president of the National Baptist Convention of America, Incorporated, International.We have mission partnerships in five countries, schools, hospitals, churches. It's about a 3.5 million member organization," said Tolbert.

Tolbert and others with the North American Baptist Fellowship Group, representing some 22 Baptist groups in the U.S. and Canada, visited Friend Ships at Port Mercy in Lake Charles. Friend Ships provides disaster relief around the world. The Baptist disaster relief group toured the ships and discussed opportunities for collaboration.

"I invited them to have this meeting in Lake Charles. Friend Ships has the asset of these ships in Lake Charles, and they need volunteers, Friend Ships does, and these people could provide volunteers who have some experience in disaster relief. So, it would be some good synergy between North American Baptist Fellowship and Friend Ship missions," said Tolbert.

Bearden says Syria, Jordan and Turkey are also places where millions of refugees need food. It's the faith based family that needs to pull together and to make a difference in these lives.

She urges faith-based groups to answer the call to help.

Other areas Baptist network members hope to address include persecuted Christians in Mosul and the border crisis in Texas.

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