Baptists aid refugees in Europe
The Baptist World Alliance sends funds to Hungarian Baptists, who are providing medical attention and supplies. There are also updates from Germany and Sweden
Baptists are providing assistance to refugees who are streaming into Europe, reports the the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).
An initial sum of US$15,000 (around £10,000) has been sent by the BWA through its relief and development arm Baptist World Aid to Hungarian Baptists to aid refugees in that country.
Bela Szilagyi, vice president of Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), informed the BWA that HBAid's temporary shelter is filled to capacity, indicating that this was the first such facility provided in the country for the refugees.
He said medical assistance has already been extended to some 700 refugees.
'Most migrants who are ill suffer from upper respiratory issues, skin diseases, and swellings,' Szilagyi told the BWA. 'Thirty percent of those seeking medical attention were children and 70 percent were adults.'
In addition, the Hungarians have distributed water and food at the Nyugati and Keleti train stations, as well as hygienic kits, medicine, disinfectants, nappies, baby food and toys.
Elsewhere Baptists in both Germany and Sweden are responding to the refugees arriving there.
'Many of our churches are busy responding to the challenge in many different ways,' said Thomas Klammt, commissioner for immigrants and refugees of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany.
Congregations in Germany are "offering language courses, assistance in practical needs, even opening their houses and rooms for refugees to stay or find protection," Klammt told the BWA. Guidelines to assist churches offering shelter in their "sanctuary" have been published.
In May of this year, Baptists in Germany passed a resolution entitled "Welcoming Christ in the Stranger."
Klammt declared that the Baptist union "has appointed a representative to the church commission that is directly addressing the Government Department for Migration."
Christoph Haus, general secretary of German-based EBM International, said that in Germany, "we expect a number of 40,000 during the upcoming weekend and the next week. Last weekend it has been 25,000."
'Right now very many refugees are arriving into Sweden,' said Inga Johansson, coordinator of church and society for the Uniting Church in Sweden, which includes Baptists.
'The Uniting Church in Sweden has many congregations active in supporting refugees,' she continued. 'We from the Uniting Church in Sweden urge congregations to open the churches for meeting places where refugees can receive support, counseling, language training and more.'
The Christian Council of Sweden has a committee working on migration issues, Johansson said. "We as a church are very keen that we, together with other organisations, support refugees and asylum seekers."
The immigration crisis will be a major topic of discussion during meetings of the European Baptist Federation, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, to be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, beginning on September 23.
Picture: Bela Szilagyi, vice president of Hungarian Baptist Aid, left, and Baptist pastor, Nyúl Zoltán, provide assistance to Middle Eastern refugees in Budapest, Hungary (Photo courtesy of Baptist Union of Hungary)