For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor. . . ” Psalm 41:1
King David writes that we will be blessed as we consider the needs of the poor.
Every month there is a gathering of the task force known as the Global Diaconate – Global Deacons, if you will, who look at what is happening in the world around us and consider how best Bethlehem can Treasure Christ Together through responding to the situations the poor face in the name of Jesus. In 2008, the Global Diaconate Task Force included:
Keith Burnes Tom Field
Holly Leslie Brad and Cindy Nelson
Scott and Cindy Purser Todd and Tamara Rasmuson
Bill and Cindi Walsh
Bethlehem’s missionaries working among the poor
The primary focus of these 11 “global deacons” is to help Bethlehem Baptist missionaries extend compassionate care to the poor throughout the world. Missionaries were assisted by funds to:
- Provide reconciliation and trauma healing workshops for pastors and church leaders in Kenya following the election crisis through Daystar U.S.
- Assist disaster relief teams in providing food, medical supplies and shelter to victims of Hurricane Noel in the Dominican Republic through STEM International.
- Offer treatment and services to cure people of tuberculosis in remote areas of Afghanistan through Global Partner’s medical clinics.
- Build a home for 50 orphaned street children where they can receive education, social and spiritual support through the ministry of Reach All Nations in India.
- Distribute food for specific famine relief areas among eight Wolof-speaking villages in Senegal through SIM International.
- Start an education center in Afghanistan to teach English, computer skills and teacher training among the poor.
- Provide emergency water rehabilitations programs in Pakistan through Partner Aid International.
- Send 200 wheelchairs to disabled people in Cameroon by partnering with Joni and Friends, the Center for the Empowerment of Females with Disabilities and a Bethlehem Baptist Church short-term ministry team of therapists, mechanics and support personnel who will travel to Cameroon in 2009.
- Enable the elderly, refugees and poor in Moscow to receive basic medical and dental care through Agape Unlimited. Christian physicians and medical personnel were also trained to pray and appropriately share the gospel with patients.
- Support a Bethlehem short-term medical team working with missionaries in Pakistan to provide medicine and essential needs for mobile medical clinics.
- Train national missionaries working among the poor and unreached in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in Discipling for Development, a holistic ministry program of Mission: Moving Mountains.
- Construct a retaining wall, safe shelter, and three classrooms to provide a healthy learning environment for 40 children and community members in Peru through Food for the Hungry.
- Train 540 non-literate adults to read and write in Urdu (national language of Pakistan) through the Lyari Community Development Association. Students also receive training in health, hygiene, stewardship and learn community building skills.
- Purchase and distribute 300 solar MegaVoice players to share the gospel message in a culturally sensitive format in Darfur, Sudan.
In addition to our work among our missionaries, the Global Diaconate coordinated three sub-groups to respond to particular issues such as HIV / AIDS, human trafficking and disasters.
HIV / AIDS Response:
The Global Diaconate has partnered with World Relief’s “Mobilization for Life” program in Malawi (2007) and India (2008) to help care for those with AIDS and especially to prevent HIV/AIDS through church-based curriculum designed to teach Christians throughout the world how to respond to this growing crisis.
In India, funds were used to mobilize, train and involve church planters from the Bible League and other Evangelical churches to initiate church-based HIV/AIDS ministries. Churches are involved in the areas of prevention, care, counseling and comfort for people living with HIV/AIDS. Funds were also provided to translate World Relief’s curriculum, Facing AIDS Together, into three Indian languages (Tamil, Bengali and Hindi).
A disaster interest group met throughout the year to pray, dream, study and plan for how these funds can be used during disasters. Funds disbursed through our Disaster Response team helped to:
- Rebuild homes and schools in Bangladesh through Bangladesh Youth First Concerns (in cooperation with Youth for Christ International).
- Provide support to those suffering after Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) through the efforts of the Kachin Baptist Convention, World Concern and the Baptist General Conference.
- Send Bethlehem member, Jon S., to Thailand to work with our missionaries helping to send a national team from Peace Fellowship Church into Myanmar in response to the cyclone.
- Launch an emergency response through World Relief in the aftermath of China’s devastating earthquake in the Sichuan province.
Anti Human Trafficking:
Each month, the Anti-human Trafficking team from Bethlehem meets to pray and learn more about human trafficking and maintain supportive involvement with international Christian agencies that rescue and restore victims of trafficking. In addition to bi-weekly prayer and team gatherings, funds were given to:
- Help the anti-trafficking agency, Freedom Firm, to renovate an aftercare home in India and support their counseling, discipleship, spiritual healing and education programs for girls rescued from sex trafficking.
- Provide camp scholarships for 25 rescued girls to enable them to attend the camp conducted by the 2008 short term team from Bethlehem. Recipients of the scholarships came from four different aftercare homes within India.
- Sell more than $500 of crafts made by survivors of trafficking at the Global Diaconate table during Bethlehem’s annual craft fair. Funds were distributed to anti-trafficking agency Freedom Firm, India and justice ministry Peace and Hope International, Peru.
- Plan, coordinate and host the first training of trainers seminar provided by the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST). This training of trainers took place at Bethlehem Baptist Church in October with 25 participants from Bethlehem and other churches from in and outside of the Twin cities. The training is designed to equip leaders of anti-trafficking work to become more familiar with the topics of training material produced by FAAST. Some of the topics covered included: A Christian Response to Human Trafficking, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Needs of a Survivor, Defining Human Trafficking, and Mobilizing the Church.
Strategic Compassion in the name of Jesus
Jesus calls us to show deep and sincere compassion for the poor and forgotten of the world (Luke 14: 12-14). The Global Diaconate approved more than $248,905 in 2008 for these programs designed to strategically assist the poor in the name of Jesus.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support for the Global Diaconate as Christ is treasured in compassionate and strategic care for the poor.
Serving together with you,
Scott Purser (for the Global Diaconate Task Force)
Global Diaconate Coordinator