Extending the reach of our love and concern
M o s c o w -- Caring persons living at distant locations can indeed make significant impact for the cause of peace and reconciliation in the embattled Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. Believers from afar usually cannot hug and console refugees and the bereaved in the Caucasus themselves, but – thanks to the invention of money – other willing and loving persons on location can serve as extensions of our own arms and legs.
A focal point for Protestant humanitarian aid in the Russian-controlled areas of North and South Ossetia is the Vladikavkas/Russia-based “North Ossetian Mission of Christian Compassion” (NOMCC). Thousands of children from the war zones are presently camping in schools and other public facilities in the regon of Vladikavkas in North Ossetia-Alania. The mission writes about its volunteers: “We are ready and eager to offer the children suffering from the war in South Ossetia spiritual and material aid.” Programme costs per child are estimated to be no less than 1.000 roubles (28 euros or $42), but the number served will depend heavily on the amount of aid received. The goal is to support between 4 and 6.000 children (totalling 168.000 euros or $252.000). The Russian government has explicitedly requested the mission’s services; Baptist aid shipments out of St. Petersburg have already arrived.
The officially-recognised NOMCC was formed in 1990 by Rev. Peter Lunichkin, now the St. Petersburg-based head of Russian Baptist Union social programmes. It has been allied with Germany’s “Light in the East” mission from the beginning and has in that capacity also been involved in evangelistic programmes. A children’s magazine and choir, both named “Tropinka” (Footpath), stem from “Light in the East” (www.lio-mission.de). Other strong NOMCC partners include the US-based “Baptist World Aid” (www.bwanet.org) and Holland’s “Dorcas Aid International” (www.dorcas.net). Another partner, Pennsylvania-based “Mennonite Central Committee”, has just made one of the first larger, material shipments. All of these agencies can channel donations in dollars or euros to NOMCC. NOMCC’s current director is Valeria Lunichkin, (firstname.lastname@example.org or www.nomcc.org).
NOMCC played a major role in channelling aid to the neighbouring city of Beslan following the school massacre of September 2004. That horrific event also claimed many Ossetian lives.
All of the above non-Russian organisations can also send aid to war victims in Georgian-held territory. A primary channel of Baptist aid within Georgia proper is the 10-year-old “Betheli Humanitarian Association” run by the “Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia” (www.ebcgeorgia.org). It’s Archbishop is Malkhaz Songulashvili. Western funds can be sent to Betheli through an account at a German Baptist bank:
In all cases, proper usage of funding is guaranteed.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 29 August 2008
A release of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #08-41, 504 words