Kadmiel Kumar, a deacon at First Baptist Church in Duluth, poses with a $25,000 check provided through the National WMU’s humanitarian fund.
By Roger Alford
DULUTH, Ga. – The National Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation moved rapidly to help Georgia churches get oxygen concentrators to COVID-19 victims in India, which has been ravaged by the deadly virus.
Social media has been filled with desperate pleas from residents seeking hospital beds, oxygen and medications. Heartbreaking images show human suffering on a scale beyond anything most people have ever seen.
With hospitals are full and unable to accept more patients, families are caring for sick loved ones at home. Their greatest physical need is oxygen.
That’s where a group of Georgia Baptists stepped in, supplying oxygen concentrators to the hard-hit states of Delhi and Odisha. They’re working with the Good News Centre, an India-based Christian ministry that has Duluth connections.
Kadmiel Kumar, a deacon at First Baptist Church in Duluth, has been leading the effort to help Good News Centre purchase and ship oxygen concentrators to his native India where an average of 300,000 people are contracting COVID-19 each day.
Amy Cook, a staff member at the National WMU Foundation in Birmingham, Ala., learned about the Georgia connection with the Good News Centre through an article in The Christian Index. Cook contacted Beth Ann Williams, head of women’s ministries at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, inviting her to request a grant through the organization’s Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow, otherwise known as HEART.
Williams reached out to the former director of Georgia WMU, Barbara Curnutt, who is a member of First Baptist Church in Duluth and a member of the board of directors of Good News Centre. The two of them collaborated on submitting the grant proposal, and the HEART initiative delivered a $25,000 check last week to help the Good News Centre purchase more oxygen concentrators.
Kumar, volunteers with the Good News Centre as a liaison between churches in the U.S. and India. The Good News Centre’s goal is to get the oxygen concentrators into churches to help people who are being turned away at hospitals.
Kumar said the cost to purchase and deliver the devices is $1,800 to $2,000 each.
Mark Hearn, pastor of First Baptist Duluth, said the goal is to raise $300,000 to buy the oxygen concentrators, to pay funeral expenses for pastors who have died from COVID, and to provide food to church members who are going without while grocery stores are under lockdown.
First Baptist Church Woodstock and Dunwoody Baptist Church also are helping with the initiative.
Hearn said his church lost an India church-planting partner to COVID in May.
“It’s extremely personal to me,” he said. “I am getting reports almost daily of people I personally know who have succumbed to COVID.”
Kumar said he feels a variety of emotions, from frustration to despair, as he watches the pandemic sweep across India. His brother, Daniel, a pastor in the state of Delhi who runs Good News Centre, took 62 calls in a single day from people who were sick and asking for help or who had family members who had died and were in need of comfort.
Churches in Delhi and Odisha are being hit especially hard. At last count, 135 pastors those two states had died from the virus, Kumar said.
Hearn said churches have an opportunity to help people truly in need by taking part in the initiative.
“This may be the best investment in ministry dollars that I’ve seen in my 40 years of pastoring,” he said.