Russia

Georgian Baptists Help Chechen Refugees

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BWA)--Members of the Central Baptist Church, Tbilisi, Georgia, have taken all the funds they collected for the much beloved Christmas celebration in the Baptist community, and given it to help Chechen refugees who have fled the war between Chechen militants and Russia in the capital Grozny.
Baptist World Aid (BWAid) has joined with them to help feed the refugees, most of whom are Moslems, by providing an initial grant of $5,000 and also coordinating the response of other Baptist groups. BWAid has also been working with Hungarian Baptist Aid who are working with Chechen refugees in Ingushetia. Funds have been provided to ship food and clothes, and a container of new winter clothing is being sent in conjunction with Matthew 25 Ministries in Cincinnatti, USA.

"The Moslem people of Chechnya should know that Christians in Georgia and beyond care about them," says Malkhaz Songlashvili, Presiding Bishop of the 5,000 member Union of

Evangelical Christian and Baptist Churches and Merab Gaprindashvili, general secretary.

The Baptist leaders report there are more than 2000 refugees in the Pankisi valley in East Georgia who are starving because a poor harvest has left Chechens there with little food.

Heavy snow has trapped more than 400 refugees, mostly children, in the mountainous town of Shatili in North Georgia.

Urged to help by a member of the Tbilisi church to help, Songlashvili says they decided, inspite of their own poverty to respond. "Most of our people are poor," he says, "but it is also clear that the poor can understand the poor better than anybody else, and we are determined to do our best to help them."

Baptist churches are not only raising money to help. They are participating in the food distribution themselves "to make sure the aid reaches the needy."

Baptist doctors and deacons and deaconesses are ready to go to Pankisi to give medical assistance.

"What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give to the refugees of the world, whatever their religion, Muslim or Hindu, Buddhist or secular atheist, Christian or non-Christian," says Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the BWA. "We are grateful for the model that the poverty stricken Baptists of the Republic of Georgia are giving to us: 'Even as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me!' Thank you for helping Baptist World Aid support refugees worldwide in the name of Jesus!"

You can assist BWAid's relief work for Chechen refugees by making a donation to BWAid, designated for Chechen refugees, and sent to :-

Baptist World Aid
Baptist World Alliance
6733 Curran Street
McLean, VA, 22101, USA

Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 790 5719
Email: BWAid@bwanet.org

Contacts: Paul Montacute or Lee Hickman

A US tax receipt will be issued.

Donations may also be made by Visa or MasterCard, in US dollars. State the Gift Amount in US$; Card No; Exp. Date; Signature of donor; and name as it appears on credit card.

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Contact: Philip Putman

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Contact: David Groves