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Join us as Chuck McAlister from Adventure Bound Outdoors Television and Promise of Hope (POH) Ministries talks about Baptist Global Response (BGR) and the work that is going on in disaster relief all over the globe. This week Chuck will interview David and Jo Brown from BGR. You don't want to miss this great show!
Well, good morning! This is Blog Talk Radio with Promise of Hope and BGR, Baptist Global Response, and it's Monday, August 15th, 9:30 Eastern time. My name is Tim Stafford, I'm the producer. I'm here in Central Florida and we've got our host, Chuck McAllister. He is in Utah today I think and he's traveling and speaking and we're so glad to have him today, and of course, he has got a really special guest, Mr. David Brown, who is with BGR and so without any further ado, Chuck, tell us how it's going and introduce us to your guest.
Well Tim, it's good to hear from you this morning. Yes, we're in Moab, Utah, heading down to Artesia, New Mexico to do some work with the Pecos Valley Baptist Association. We're excited to be on the road and all that, but I am more excited about our guest today. David Brown is a good friend and we've had the privilege of knowing David for a couple of years and actually last year had the opportunity of going down to Haiti being with him and his wife Jo and the phenomenal work they're doing there in Haiti. And David, we just want to welcome you. We're so excited to have you with us. Tell us a little bit about what your responsibility is with BGR.
Well, good morning, Chuck and Tim. It's a pleasure to be on the show and I really am appreciative of the fine words you said. Basically, my wife and I serve as the area directors for Baptist Global Response for the Americas. We serve Mexico, Central and top America and the Corinthian for a project with Baptist partners and field missionaries in relief and development.
That's awesome. I know we've got some commonality in our background being fellow South Carolinians but tell us a little bit about your background, where you came from, how you came to know the Lord and how got connected to Baptist Global Response.
Well that's a -- how much time do you have, Chuck? I grew up in a navy family out of Pennsylvania but I came to know the Lord while I was a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. I also met my wife while she was attending a medical university nearby in 1972 and from that point on, I had a short career in the navy and then came out and went on to seminary after the Lord called me into ministry. I had grown up in a very religious home but it was not a faith that had proclaimed Jesus Christ the Savior. So after I met the Lord, he quickly called me into service and I began after my two other service and after seminary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, I began working with the North American Mission Board, then the whole mission board as the church planter in New York, where both my girls were born, Christine and Cassie. During that time, we began to get involved with the disaster relief component that North American Mission Board still has pastors as volunteers and later we came to South Carolina and I had continued to serve with the pastors and church planter and became more and more active in the South Carolina Baptist Convention. My wife and I had experienced a call to foreign missions shortly after we are married in 1976. It just took us a little while to get to the field. We had been in Guatemala now for almost 10 years and have had various ministries here, within Central America and Mexico, and had served as the human needs and disaster relief coordinator for the Middle America and Caribbean region with the board, with IMB, and as a result of that, I thank all because they felt sorry for me one or the other. That's global response after an invitation to join their tremendous ministry and now we are serving in this capacity.
Oh, that's awesome. Well, I see I know you guys have been on the road a lot literally between Haiti and Guatemala and everything else that you have going on. Tell us a little bit Dave about the projects that you are overseeing right now including the Haiti project and some other things that you might be involved in doing right now that you see the Lord working insignificantly.
We have seen some exciting things happen in the last couple of years that we come up. In January will be the second anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti that caused so much devastation there, and folks often forget that 30 days after that earthquake, we also responded to the earthquake in Southern Chile which was an entirely different situation but two world catastrophic events have sort of captured our attention over the last couple of years. We have a number -- I'll talk about Haiti in just a minute, but we have other endeavors that we're involved with right now. One that we're really excited about that happened this Saturday in Guatemala, it would be the second annual disaster relief congress as they call it and which will be training leaders, national leaders from Guatemala in disaster relief management, particularly in the areas of this time of management of a disaster, water purification, first aid and chaplaincy. This is really, really exciting. We hope to have a good turnout. We have extended the invitations to over 100 pastors and church leaders. That one we're really excited about here. That will be taking place this week. The folks can be praying with us about that. Let me just [crosstalk]
Dave, what are the days so we'll know exactly how to pray?
Yes. That would be Saturday, August 20th, that's just in a few days. I realized this is a broadcast program so I forgot to mention the date there. Let me just [crosstalk] I appreciate that very, very much. It's very exciting. We've got a couple of masters that are meeting out in the training which for me is really exciting when things get to the hands of the nationals.
Great. Great. Well, tell us more.
Well, we have been in Haiti. As you know, it's been taking up the majority of our time and now as we looked back over 18 months, we have seen some incredible obstacles removed as God began to work in some significant ways but let me be very quick to say that my wife and I are not responsible for much of what happened because of the great staff that we have working there. We have a retired American missionary with International Mission Board, Dr. Carter Davis who has been coming in and managing a good portion of that work. We also have an IMB couple that has been seconded to BGR who is actually running the day-to-day operation in Porter Print with a volunteer team, as well as an intern that we have from Canada who has come down to assist in the rebuilding as well. But some of the things -- just to give you a list of some of the things that we have been able to do is of course in the opening days providing food and immediate medical needs with the first couple of things that we were involved with. We have since moved through a lot of projects like helping in cholera prevention and education, to help the national kind of deal with their own problems that are associated with a cholera outbreak. We have been able to assist schools get back into the business of teaching kids through repairs to their structures, providing materials and funding to provide blackboards and desk construction. We have actually had two volunteer senders established to help with the onslaught of the very generous volunteers from United States who'd come down to be involved with what's going on. We have been able to partner with other GCCs and Baptists partners to do a number of other ministries. One exciting project that we did is with the Sweet Sleep Ministries out of Nashville.
This ministry helps orphanages provide bedding for kids who normally are sleeping on the floor and sleeping in very, very poor situations and they have provided beds and bedding sheets and pillows for kids to get them out of the floor. Obviously, the major imports for the last year has been in the house reconstruction and currently, by the end of November, we project we'll have about 1450 homes built in conjunction with Rebuild Haiti which is a collaborative effort between the North American Mission Board for the Baptist Convention, International Mission Board and Baptist Global Response. We have partnership with another organization called the Chadasha Foundation who is in the business if you will, in the ministry providing prosthesis for those Haitians who lost limbs as a result of the earthquake. I can't say enough about all of the volunteered partnerships that BGR has been a funnel provided opportunities in the field for house construction, working alongside Haitians, many, many churches, state conventions, individuals who have come and been a part of what's going on in Haiti. And the exciting thing too is that we've also had International Baptist Volunteer Opportunities. We've had teams of nationals from Ecuador to Dominican Republic, Dominica and Granada that have come to Haiti and helped us in the reconstruction process.
I understand your humility Dave in what you're saying about the cooperative effort but it takes a leader and I've been there. The leadership that you provide -- and it is awesome. It takes somebody who has remarkable skills to be able to pull together all those partnerships to ensure that they work together successfully. Tell me, what do you see right now as the greatest challenge that you as a leader are facing regarding helping the Haitian people and maybe even throughout your region that we need to be praying about for you?
Well, the biggest thing is first and foremost for wisdom to be able to identify areas in which we can actually help, and I'm talking about we, all of the partners associated with BGR and the projects that we sponsor, that would be something that is transferable directly to nationals. Because it's more -- my basic concern is that it's not about providing resources to do things, it's more about empowering nationals to take leadership and ownership in resolving their own situation. So that's first and foremost, the wisdom to assist nationals to take care of their own problems. The second thing is finding more and more opportunities within our area that would provide us training opportunities to get more and more nationals involved in the process of community development in disaster relief management. These are the two big things that we are pushing for, for this next year to be involved with. The third thing that's kind of related to the second one is that we just returned from Brazil and have met with some leaders of their home mission board and we're looking to build a very close partnership with the Brazilian Baptist in setting up something like a BGR in Brazil to train over 500 of their home missionaries who are working throughout many of the indigenous groups, the Indian groups throughout Brazil, in setting up their own community development and disaster relief organization. We are also looking to do the same sort of thing in Chile as well, working alongside the National Baptist with their convention there as well. So those are three real big opportunities that we have. The last one, and we probably can come back to this a little bit later, but we are also looking at the challenge of beginning to wind down disaster response in Haiti.
We've got a projected date for an exploring as looking at the time in which we'll finish our work there and of course all of the challenges that come related to that in being able to transfer the majority of this work to nationals but also beginning to work on an extra strategy where we begin to work ourselves out, out of the country.
You know Dave, I'm really in awe because the more I'm around you, the more I sense that it's your heart not just to step in and do the ministry of disaster relief or community development projects but you would much rather train someone to do that work that is the national and empower them to do that. That to me really is what this is all about. I want to commend you for that because I've seen you in action in the field and I know that that's your heart, that's what you desire more than anything else. Tell me a little bit about how -- you're talking about Chile, you're talking about Guatemala, you've talked about Haiti, for the benefit of our listeners, how large is the region that you cover for BGR?
Well, we've served all of the countries, that is approximately 44 countries which is all of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the islands of the Caribbean. So it's pretty large area, everything pretty much south of the Texas border that goes all the way down to the tip of South America.
I guess -- you really don't unpack your suitcase, is that right?
Well, we have this week simply because we ran out of clothes. We got to get them washed. But yeah, I think I keep it on the road. We have the blessing of being able to participate with our field partners in the various areas. We've had five area meetings or regional meetings and we've had a chance to meet the majority of International Mission Board partners that we work alongside in these different areas but that's like you said, that has afforded us the opportunity to travel the many, many areas.
Well, tell us right now, what do you see on the horizon that is exciting you the most regarding your ministry and regarding what you see BGR Promise of Hope doing together and all that?
Wow. It's just like everyday brings new challenges and new opportunities. We were just excited about the new opportunities that we have in the field beginning with the meet the national leadership in many of the countries or at least the regions in which we've been sharing and being able to communicate our dream and vision of providing the leadership or providing training for leadership to begin to work alongside our national partners and the empowerment of the resolution of the long issues. Some of the things we've already talked about like Brazil and Chile, and here in Guatemala, Mexico which is on the future. Another area that we are really excited about is being invited by various Baptist seminaries in these regions to come in and help set up a training curriculum to be introduced in these various seminaries so that pastors will come out of seminaries trained in the concepts of community development disaster relief. We are in the process right now of having all of our English materials translated into Spanish because in all of these countries except Brazil as you know, we have to be able to communicate and train in Spanish, not in English. So that's a real challenge for us as we begin to get more and more resources in the hands of our seminary students and local pastors. So that for us is something that's really, really exciting, that will push more and more nationals into the loop of what we're doing. I think that for Jo and I that if we continue to have the wisdom, listening to the Holy Spirit's leadership in what we do, is that we will help our field partners as well as they begin to dream and see how their ministries could expand and explode by understanding a careful balance of evangelism with meeting human needs.
And this is sort of a new day for our area and it has been very, very exciting but it is kind of like -- although it's not new, it's kind of like we feel that we're in a pioneer setting and we're really doing a lot to encourage our field folks and understanding that we are here to help them. So that is a real challenge for us right now as BGR is still somewhat of a new concept on the field but it is being readily accepted and folks are beginning to take our counsel seriously and be ready to implement some new things in their strategies.
Dave, on this program in the past, we've talked about the tension that exists between those organizations that do nothing but meet physical needs, and then those organizations or individuals who basically say, "Let's just meet your spiritual needs. Let's lead him to Jesus and forget the rest". I have sensed in your ministry, and I have seen this in BGR, that there is much more of a balance of meeting the physical need so that we can help that person have an encounter with Jesus Christ. Talk to me a little about, and to our listeners, a little bit about your personal feelings regarding evangelism and regarding how you view meeting those physical needs, how that place into evangelism?
That's a great question. And basically, I just wrote somebody yesterday who I basically answered like this. If what more we're doing is providing fun, to help them in a situation but I haven't made a spiritual connection, then we haven't done anything to push back the curtains of darkness and make an impact on the Kingdom. If we think that we need to do and Jo and I need to do through our responsibility here with BGR has to have a spiritual motivation. I tell our nationals all the time that people out there in the field can't tell the difference between Baptist Beams and another organization's Beams, unless we've got a spiritual motivation behind what we do. I ran across a quote that I think sort of helps me understand a little bit better. It's not a quote, it's really a question between two people when someone says, "Sometimes I'd like ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it," and then someone says, "Why don't you ask him?" and the reply is, "Because I'm afraid he might ask me the same question." We have an awesome responsibility to provide a context for evangelism to take place. We are not apologetic as Christians in the work that we do with relief and development but we have to understand that the fundamental purpose of community development is the restoration of fallen men and his community through a light relationship with God. If all we're doing is building houses and saving people, we will have people that have nice homes and full bellies on their way to hell. We've got to do things that impact the Kingdom.
Wow. I love what you just said. We are creating a context for evangelism and I'll tell you that the thing I like about that Dave is that if you're creating that kind of context in meeting the physical need, you really don't have to do apologetics because the act of meeting the physical need followed by the helping that person encounter Jesus takes care of the apologetics, doesn't it?
Yes, it does. And one challenge that we've seen in Haiti that stands before us all the time is I read -- happening in talks and read some books by Jeff Palmer, the director of BGR, who once said that often, what we do in relief and development often gives unbelievers a view of what the Kingdom of God is like in this world and that is a high standard. That puts the bar up very, very, very high. There are times in which we have to do the right thing which may not always be directly related but we have to remember that we have a spiritual motivation, we have a spiritual calling in what we are doing. And there has to be a balance. For me, whether you do evangelism or whether you do human assistance humanitarian aid, we listen. The question is what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do today and how does that relate. I think we also as workers, we also have to keep sort of a big picture over time and not necessarily what's happening in this year, because what we did today may impact the generation from now. We have to keep those options open and realize that the results may not be attainable but the future is what we are focusing in on the Kingdom of God.
That's awesome indeed. I've watched you do this in action in the field. You actually win credibility with the people as you're meeting those needs, as you're stepping out to show them that you care, and I think that's where you and Jo bring a huge amount of heart on what you do because you not only are engaged in meeting that need but you are always thinking how can I help these people come to know Christ, and that's -- I am just -- I mean, all you do brother is amazing.
Well, listen. We just maybe are the ones that get the credit, get the attention, which we are uncomfortable with, but we're just a small cog in a big machine. We look at the Southern Baptist and Baptist partners throughout the United States and I imagine internationally as well who are providing the resources to the World Hunger Fund that makes our projects possible. All of the hundreds and thousands I imagine of Baptist who responded generously by donating to the Haiti Relief Fund at Baptist Global Response has been incredible. I mean, what we have done has been a direct response in partnership with every member of every Southern Baptist church. This whole issue is on behalf of Southern Baptist. It's not just about a couple of individuals or what's taking place with respect to what nation, but it is a collaborative effort which we are just really excited about and I hope folks will get a new understanding, a new passion for getting to the World Hunger Fund at Southern Baptist Support.
I think the most powerful thing about all of these too is the fact that we are willing to work with organization. When I say we, I include us as BGR Promise of Hope, we're willing to work with organizations. We don't have to have all the answers, we don't have to know everything, but we are willing to share the load more or less to make sure that the some work gets done. And I see you doing that consistently Dave. I can't believe we're getting close to needing to wrap up here but we're not too far away. Tell us what's foremost on your mind right now. I know you got the Guatemala conference coming up. Anything else that we specifically need to be praying for or praying about?
Well, one thing too that I handed my -- my wife just handed me a note here and it was good thing that she did because I'd forgotten about it, but again, when I say just another great word of thanks to, again, all of those churches that have been collecting the Kits for Kids, the school packs that will be distributed throughout the world. We've got -- I don't know -- over 40 thousand requests within the America already and we've received some of those in South America and we're are just really, really excited that Southern Baptist want to do more than just send money, they want to be involved physically in missions across the world. The biggest thing again I shared about is just wisdom. That is the biggest thing that we can do. It seems like everything that comes across those tasks is a God-sized task, to quote from Henry Blackaby, but we are just so incapable of doing what comes across our desk everyday and we are excited but it can be very frustrating at times as we try to figure out what God wants us to do. So folks could join us desperately in prayer, seeking what God would have us to do to make an impact on the Kingdom.
Oh, that's tremendous Dave. And I tell you what, people may or may not realize about what you guys do, especially those of you that are very directors and I have seen this happen with you. You can be in the middle of a community development project of turning leaders, the nationals to respond to disasters. You can be responding to a disaster as you were with Haiti and another disaster occur and you have to immediately respond to that as well and you find yourself living in multiple worlds. How do you manage all of that? How do you keep that straight in and continue to keep your focus?
That's a great question. My wife does a good job of keeping everything between the digits. That coordination is always a challenge and I think about what you just said and realized that remember 30 days after Haiti hit, we had Chile and we had great, again, great response through other workers, that's a global response that we're able to step in a partnership with us. So we're not in it alone. We can delegate some of our responsibilities but here we are facing the hurricane season. We're getting ready to walk into the two worst months yet that are ahead of us for our particular area and we're always -- we know the challenge out there is having to be in two or three places at once, and God only seems to work things out. I guess what we need to understand is that God is in control and we just need to be more attuned to what he would have us to do and what we think we need to do.
Wow. Well, I tell you Dave.
It's juggling. It's -- go ahead.
It is juggling but I'll tell you what I've seen and I have seen you do it. It's juggling with a spiritual emphasis and you do it well. You have been a blessing--
I appreciate your encouragement.
Well you and Jo were such a blessing to us. We thoroughly enjoy watching what you do and how you do it, and consistently standing all of all that you're able to get done brother. And on behalf of our listeners, I want to thank you for taking time. I know you're heading out -- are you heading out tomorrow aren't you?
No. As a matter of fact, we just got back. We will be heading out next week. Yeah, we'll be heading to Honduras to look at agricultural project that's ongoing there.
Awesome. Well, we will certainly be praying for you as you travel and may God will grant you the wisdom to be able to work through all of the various things that you need to work through. Please tell Jo that we said hello. I know she is standing by on the wings listening, and on behalf of all of us who are privileged to watch you in action, we appreciate you and thank you for all you do for the Kingdom, brother.
Well Chuck, we appreciate you. We appreciate Promise of Hope. We just appreciate again all of the Southern Baptist who have been so generous in their prayers, in their support, in their financial sacrifice even in coming to the affected areas of the world. We just are so honored to have the privilege of serving Christ in this capacity.
God Bless you, brother! Keep it between the ditches.
Okay. Thank you, Chuck. God Bless.
Alright. This has been BGR POH radio, Promise of Hope Baptist Global Response, helping people connect -- helping connect people who with me just the people who care and helping doing it all so that people can encounter Jesus. Thanks for joining us. See you next week.
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It's good to talk.