I was delighted to see William Thornton’s post about Baptist Global Response on SBC Voices — and the many positive comments that were made. I wanted to offer a word from BGR and open a line of communication for those who want to know more.
Our mission statement says Baptist Global Response “connects people in need with people who care.” The “people in need” are communities overseas suffering from acute problems such as disasters, wars, epidemics, etc., as well as chronic problems including poverty, hunger, poor health, etc.
BGR is unapologetically Christian and Southern Baptist. We are accountable to a board composed entirely of Southern Baptists. We have a historical connection with IMB, as a couple of commenters noted. BGR was established because pioneers of Southern Baptist human needs work, like Harold Watson in the Philippines, realized that more doors for service would open for a humanitarian organization in parts of the world where a missionary organization like IMB would not have access. BGR was created to help Southern Baptists implement a more effective and efficient international relief and development effort.
Our organization focuses specifically on community development and disaster response initiatives. A good example of disaster response is what we are doing in the aftermath of Nepal’s April 25 earthquake. Most of the large humanitarian organizations bring short-term crisis relief to large population centers, then leave when the initial crisis abates. BGR, on the other hand, looks for small communities that have been ignored or overlooked by the major responders. We not only bring immediate relief like food, water, and shelter, but we also help families begin the arduous task of rebuilding their lives: rebuilding houses, replanting crops, replacing tools, etc. We call this a “disaster to development” approach.
BGR also engages in community development projects related to almost any need you can think of. BGR projects help otherwise-destitute widows provide for their families. We help young men learn job skills that help them lead impoverished communities into a better future. We provide clean water and sanitation, meet health care needs, conduct livestock and agriculture projects, and help refugees and displaced families who are struggling to survive after being driven from home.
Many of our efforts are undertaken in places where no one has ever heard that God loves them. Our projects are “word and deed” initiatives that reflect the holistic nature of Jesus’ own ministry. Everywhere we work, we honor the guidelines host governments have for humanitarian work. Everywhere possible, our work is done in conjunction with local churches and Southern Baptist partners, so there is a high level of accountability and integrity in what is done in the name of Southern Baptists.
One of the great advantages of giving through BGR is that almost 90% of donated funds reach the people in need — when some organizations may only send 30% or 40% to meet the need. BGR can do that because we are able to leverage the Cooperative Program and mission offerings given by Southern Baptist churches. Those resources put Southern Baptist personnel on the ground overseas, and when we can partner with them, overhead costs are held to a minimum. When it comes to Southern Baptist hunger and relief funds channeled to IMB, BGR serves as a third-party administrator for those funds, ensuring they are used as effectively as possible, with high-level accountability. BGR is not an entity established by convention vote, but we honor the SBC’s Business and Financial Plan. We are Southern Baptist to the core, committed to working cooperatively so we can better respond to acute and chronic needs and to coordinate worldwide relief and development efforts.
Our hope as an organization is to see people all around the world experiencing a full and meaningful life, with the hope and peace that inspire them to raise their families in confidence, build their communities with dignity, and share this abundant life with others. Our website (www.gobgr.org) can show you what that looks like in practical terms, as well as offer you ways to get personally involved by praying and volunteering. If anyone has a question the site doesn’t answer, we would be glad to field e-mail inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baptist Global Response