Groups To Aid Tornado Victims

Monday, May 12th 2008, 6:37 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahomans are rising to the challenge of the storm damage both here at home and abroad. As they have so many times before, the Southern Baptist Relief Team is one of those responding. News on 6's Steve Berg reports the Southern Baptist team didn't have to choose between Picher, Oklahoma and Myanmar. They're going to both of them.

Sam Porter with The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team says they're actually already on the scene in Picher, and they're prepping for an overseas trip.

"It keeps me busy to say the least, coordinating a thing in Myanmar and also in Picher," said Sam Porter with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team.

Ironically, the Baptist presence in Myanmar might predate that in Oklahoma. Porter says the first Baptist missionary to ever leave the United States went to Burma in the early 1800's.

"I think even our Baptist people don't have a clue how long, that we've been there for almost 200 years now, which is amazing," said Porter. "And they estimate there are at least a million Baptists in Burma, which is now called Myanmar."

Meanwhile, Terry Law Ministries, by sheer coincidence, was already planning for a mission to Myanmar when the cyclone hit.

"We immediately knew we needed to expand our mission. And so, we're taking in over $100,000 worth of medicines, and we're bringing in 20 water purification units, and those will be desperately needed as soon as we hit the ground," said Joel Vesanen with Terry Law Ministries.

"You can live for probably 40, 50 days without food. But, water you have to have at least every 3 days. So, it's almost more urgently needed than medicines even," said Vesanen.

Even if the military junta doesn't let them in, they say the local leaders can get out.

"We won't be frustrated. We won't cry if we can't get in. We already know we can get them out. They'll come to us and we'll train them in water purification, building medical and tell them what to do. They can make that happen, and then send all of our goods back in with the nationals," said Porter.

During the past few years, Southern Baptist Relief workers from Oklahoma have helped after disasters, large and small. They have helped at Ground Zero after 9-11, with the Tsunami disaster in Thailand in 2004 and with the last ice storm, among others.