First Person: Who Needs Relief?

Jill Thompson is an IMB missionary to Brazil.

Over the past several months, my husband, Rick, and I have been involved in Send Relief projects where we serve in Brazil. Send Relief provides a way to respond directly to those in need in lasting, meaningful ways while sharing the hope of the gospel. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, many suffer from food insecurity, but the pandemic magnified this problem.

Churches were looked to as a source for food by people in their communities, but churches had suffered during this time as well. Some congregations could not meet in person. Many church members and leaders were isolated. They were not out among the people and could not address the needs, fears, loneliness or hunger. Someone needed to send relief.

Funds provided by Southern Baptists through Send Relief were used to purchase food which was distributed to local churches. These churches were asked to form teams to personally visit those who would receive food. During the visits, the teams were to share the gospel, read from the Bible, pray, listen and form relationships. Teams were formed and relief was sent out. The visits occurred twice a month for three months.

Relief was sent to those with the immediate physical need of hunger. Parents could rest more easily knowing their children were not as hungry.

Relief was sent to those who had been isolated and lonely. People talked, laughed, cried and prayed together in person.

Relief was sent to churches and local believers who began to gather again to worship and engage each other and their communities.

Relief was sent to those who had lost hope as they heard the story of the greatest hope of all – hope found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Relief was sent to U.S. Southern Baptist volunteers who were able to be involved in overseas missions again. They came, loaded food, made visits, shared the gospel and heard powerful testimonies of the blessings that the food and visits had been.

Relief was sent to us, IMB missionaries on the ground, through provisions for us to encourage, train and walk alongside our national partners.

Send Relief President Bryant Wright distributes food on the border between Venezuela and Colombia as part of a Send Relief project with local believers. IMB photo

What happens when thousands of Southern Baptists pray and give to Send Relief? In Rio, over 700 people heard the gospel. More than 150 received Jesus as Lord and Savior and 10 have already been baptized. Twenty new Bible study groups have formed. Fourteen volunteers from the U.S. came to help and two IMB missionaries were encouraged.

So the question is, “Who needs relief?”

It turns out that all of us need relief. Look around you and see how you can meet the needs of others. Physical needs.  Emotional needs.  Spiritual needs. Let’s work together to Send Relief.