By Sharon Mager, BaptistLIFE Coorespondent
SILVER SPRING, Md—Georgia Avenue Baptist Church is collecting baby supplies for families in rural areas of Liberia, who cannot afford to care for themselves and their babies. They are assembling kits containing cloth diapers, pacifiers, bibs, soap, pins, washcloths and blankets. Delivering the kits provides missionaries an opportunity to care for women and encourage mothers to seek the attention of professional midwives and health care facilities to deliver their babies. The opportunity also exists to share Jesus with the women as the Holy Spirit leads.
The project is in response to a mission trip by longtime church member Elma Lorraine Diggs. Diggs was born in Liberia and immigrated to the United States when she was five years old. She made a confession of faith when she was eight-years-old at Georgia Avenue Baptist Church, where her father, Elmer Diggs, serves as minister of music and evangelism. But it was at an “Aquire the Fire” youth event when she was a young teen were she felt a call to missions. Since that time, in addition to her ministry in Liberia, Diggs has ministered in India, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobogo.
She received a health promotion degree from Liberty University and a master of public health degree from Mercer University. She began feeling that God wanted her to return to Liberia. She served with Unicef as a health consultant, specializing in rural health. She ministered in Maryland County.
“That was kind of funny going from Maryland here to Maryland County,” Diggs said. She recently returned from her service with Unicef with a passion to bring awareness to the plight of the women living in rural areas.
Liberia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world; Diggs said.”Women are walking up to 20 miles for health care. Maryland is one of the hardest to reach areas.” Fortunately, Diggs has contact with a missionary on the ground who is willing to distribute supplies and get them into “the correct hands of those who really need them.”
“The infant mortality rate is already horrible but now with the Ebola threat, things just become more distressed. More women are staying away from hospitals. Ebola is compounding a difficult situation,” Diggs said.
Diggs is passionate about Baptists sharing the Gospel through this program. In Liberia, she saw other religious groups distributing the desperately needed supplies, but she did not see Baptists.
“We have the truth and we need to get the message out there,” she said.
Church member Diane Butler has been working with Diggs to organize the baby supply drive. Though they have some donations, they need more to make a shipment.
The church is seeking donations of both supplies and funds. For more information, contact Georgia Avenue Baptist Church, 301-946-1331.