‘Send Relief Sunday’ highlights gospel impact that takes place when churches serve others

Brant Fountain came to Christ while serving on a mission trip when he was 18. At least two of the students in his ministry recently came to him asking about baptism, and when Fountain asked to hear their testimony, they shared about the impact their 2021 trip to serve the Send Relief Ministry Center in Atlanta made on them.

“I baptized two students this past year, and they were saved in Clarkston (Ga.),” said Fountain, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Canton, Ga. “What’s cool is I didn’t know it (at the time). It was not until they said, ‘Hey, Brant, I want to get baptized.’ I said, ‘Okay, well, tell me your testimony.’”

This Sunday, Aug. 6, is Send Relief Sunday on the SBC Calendar of Events. Send Relief is a joint ministry of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board that launched as an effort to help churches share the gospel through compassion ministry, both with their next-door neighbors and with the nations throughout the world.

A rescue crew digs through the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in southeastern Turkey, looking for survivors and bodies after the earthquake of Feb. 6, 2023. (IMB photo)

Send Relief mobilized more than 51,000 volunteers in 2022 and served 2.59 million people through compassion ministry projects globally. Nearly 90,000 people made decisions for Christ as a result.

“By working with our partners around the world to provide for physical needs and share the everlasting hope of Jesus Christ, Southern Baptists, through Send Relief, have the amazing opportunity to help people everywhere not only survive but thrive,” said Send Relief president Bryant Wright.

Send Relief’s associate area director for Central Asia accompanied a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team to a remote series of villages in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, killing nearly 60,000 people and causing an estimated $118 billion in damage throughout the region.

At one site, SBDR volunteers helped restore clean water, and when some of the townspeople in this primarily Muslim area learned that they were Christians, the team was able to have a conversation about faith and why they had traveled so far to help those suffering in the middle of the crisis.

One resident commented to the disaster relief team’s guide, “My government is 5 kilometers away, but those who came from 9,000 kilometers away are the ones who helped me.”

IMB’s network of missionaries and partners enables Send Relief to respond quickly to any crisis, including the major response in Eastern Europe following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

For Fountain and his church, visiting Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center in Clarkston, which is one of the leading cities in the U.S. for refugee resettlement, opened the eyes of church members to how they could minister to people from other parts of the world without needing to travel very far.

“The students and the leaders were greatly impacted just by hearing the really sad stories of the refugees and all they went through and suffered to get to Georgia,” Fountain said. “We understood how we can be a part of reaching the nations without leaving our state.”

Their 2021 mission trip to Clarkston was so meaningful that Fountain’s student ministry visited the Send Relief Ministry Center in Memphis earlier this year, which took their church out of their suburban community to serve alongside those in an urban context.

“I think the most impactful thing was seeing that there is desperate need all around us and we can help by simply serving, giving and praying,” said Fountain. “It’s just about getting out of our daily routine and the comforts we don’t realize we hold so dear and serving others.”

The Send Relief Ministry Centers in Memphis and Clarkston are two of 20 throughout North America. Each center concentrates primarily on one of Send Relief’s five ministry focus areas: strengthen communities, care for refugees, protect children and families, fight human trafficking and respond to crisis.

“What I’ve seen from Send Relief is that they’re not just about pacifying churches that want to go on a trip,” said Fountain. “They’re actually partnering with local churches, who they need, in order to accomplish the mission that those churches are already a part of.”

“The needs are everywhere, and together we can meet needs and change lives for people on the other side of the world and right down the street,” Wright said. “Together, as Southern Baptists, we can be an unstoppable force of hope.”

For a video that can be used in church services, download here. To learn more about how Send Relief can partner with your church to have a gospel impact, visit sendrelief.org.

— Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.