(BWA) – Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam has offered condolences and prayerful support to the people of Italy following a devastating earthquake that hit Abruzzo, in the central region of the country on Monday, April 6.
“Please be assured of our thoughts and prayers as we think of those who have been bereaved, those who are trapped in the debris, and those who have been injured,” Callam wrote to Anna Maffei, president of the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy (CEBUI).
“We pray for the communities that have been destroyed, for a country as it mourns, and for your Baptist community of faith,” Callam said in his letter, which was also signed by Paul Montacute, director of Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA.
Maffei expressed gratitude for the level of support that has been offered to the Italian people since the 6.3 magnitude quake, which has claimed more than 170 lives and has caused widespread destruction, particularly in L’Aquila, the capital city of the Abruzzo region.
“Thank you for your concern and prayers,” Maffei said in her reply to Callam. “It is a time of suffering and grief here in Italy … . We ask for your prayers for all the victims and their families.”
Maffei, who also spoke with Callam by phone, said that no Baptist church was affected and no known Baptist has suffered loss, but indicated on the CEBUI web site that “brothers and sisters of our Baptist churches and of other churches are working in the earthquake area because they belong to the rescue teams of the civil protection forces.”
Even though no overseas assistance is being sought by Italian authorities, Baptists are prepared to offer help. Callam and Montacute indicated that, if assistance is needed, “We may be able to help through Baptist World Aid.”
Tony Peck, general secretary for the European Baptist Federation and BWA regional secretary for Europe, offered 1,000 Euro in immediate relief and indicated that European Baptists would be willing to offer more assistance “if there are some humanitarian needs.”
In linking the occurrence of the quake with the Easter season, the Italian Baptist leader wrote, “In this week we all remember Jesus’ suffering and death. We remind ourselves and the world that the God of Jesus Christ participates in our toils and sometimes despair, but at the same time we know death did not win Him. He was raised from the dead and offered us hope and new life.”