WASHINGTON (BWA) Baptist World Alliance President David Coffey and General Secretary Neville Callam are appealing for prayer for those affected by the conflict between Georgian and Russian forces over the Georgian breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Estimates are that more than 158,000 persons are displaced as a result of the fighting.”
Already, the Baptist World Alliance has sought practical ways in which to give expression to our love for the people affected by the war in the region,” Callam said. “Baptists across the world are praying for the resolution of the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”
Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, the president of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, has appealed for assistance to provide shelter, food, water, blankets, medicine and counseling for those affected by the fighting.
“We need to remember in our prayers Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili and other pastoral leaders as they seek to minister in this dangerous and uncertain situation,” Coffey said.
Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, sent 40,000 euros, including a 20,000 euro contribution from the German Baptist Union, to support the relief efforts of Baptists in Georgia.
“I urge Baptists to pray for the peace and safety of Georgia and the surrounding regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,”Coffey said. “What has happened in the past few days is a reminder that the Caucasus is a complex and volatile region and we have many Baptists who will have been caught up in the suddenness of this conflict.”
Fighting in the region began Aug. 7 as Georgia launched an assault against separatist forces in South Ossetia. Russia sent thousands of troops into South Ossetia and launched attacks against Georgia, both in the province and at points throughout Georgia.
“I applaud the initiatives taken by the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in addressing the situation in which resort to force has resulted in loss of life, destruction of property and disruption in people’s lives in the Caucasus,” Callam said.
“We also wish to assure Georgian Baptists of our commitment to urge respect for the territorial integrity of their country,” Callam said. “We pray for the success of the initiative of the United Nations to resolve the political conflict between Russia and Georgia. We also pray for the peaceful co-existence of all concerned.”