disaster relief

HEART Fund Grant to Help Tornado Victims in Cuba

After a huge, rare tornado devastated Cuba’s capital Havana on January 27th, a WMU Foundation grant is helping undergird a local Baptist seminary’s effort to care for those affected.

The storm killed 4 and injured 195 as it swept through, damaging buildings, pushing over trees and causing flooding in low-lying areas. Cuba is threatened frequently by hurricanes, but a tornado of this magnitude is unusual for the Caribbean island nation.

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A $3,650 grant from the WMU Foundation’s HEART Fund will help Havana Baptist Theological Seminary with generator power and bulk food purchases.

“The seminary is right in the core area of the devastation, so they are able to accomplish things and do so in the name of the Lord,” said L.M. Dyson, a member of First Woodway Baptist Church in Texas who has partnered with ministries in Cuba for 20 years. “They’ve set up feeding and food distribution there. There’s so much need, it’s mind boggling.”

Dyson, who is administering the HEART Fund grant, said people on the ground in Cuba are looking for the pockets of greatest need so that they can apply the resources there first.

It’s an effort that’s an extension of the organization’s long investment in Cuba.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin, WMU executive director, said WMU’s first national offering in 1888 was to help build a church there, and now—131 years later—WMU still wants to get the hope of the gospel to Cubans.

“Often in the overwhelming aftermath of a tragedy, people’s hearts are more receptive to accepting the hope found in Christ,” she said. “We pray our efforts will reap Kingdom rewards.”

Since the HEART Fund began in 2001 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, the WMU Foundation has granted more than $492,000 to help with disaster relief all over the world.

The WMU Foundation accepts gifts to the HEART Fund for disaster relief victims online or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

Written by Grace Thornton.

Generational Discipleship Brings Global Investment

Are you involved in making disciples and sharing Christ with others through missions education? People like Cindy Walker cannot imagine their lives without it. She grew up with WMU as part of her life—she started out as a Sunbeam, then became a GA, taught GAs, and now teaches Acteens, WMU’s missions education curriculum for youth girls.

Learning and teaching about missions for years gave Cindy a passion to reach the lost all over the world. Her eyes were opened to the fact that the world was far more than her community, and she wanted the world to know about Jesus.


In the last ten years, Cindy has gone on eighteen mission trips to Nicaragua, often taking Acteens with her. She has been able to teach God’s love to these girls and help them put that love into action in their hometowns and across the world.

Cindy’s teams have been able to work with the Emmanuel Home of Protection in Nicaragua, which serves victims of sexual abuse and trafficking. Unfortunately, in October 2017, Tropical Storm Nate caused almost insurmountable damage to the safe house.

“Poverty is rampant. Hopelessness is evident everywhere you look,” Cindy explained. But she also noted she had heard story after story of people in the area who had come to know Christ because someone from the safe house reached out to them and met their physical needs then shared the gospel with them. The home “is a beacon of hope and light in a dark area of our hemisphere,” she said.

At Emmanuel Home of Protection, missionaries provide girls from birth to age 18 with a formal education and training in life and job skills. The staff offers psychological, emotional, and spiritual care to the girls introducing them to the unconditional love of Jesus. “That’s why it’s vital to keep the ministry up and running at full speed,” Cindy said. “Anything we can do to help these missionaries minister in this community is wonderful.”

The WMU Foundation sent a $2,500 HEART Fund grant to help them rebuild and recover as quickly as possible. The grant will help replace roofs, windows, walls, and doors at the safe house. Cindy’s involvement with WMU through the years helped her be a voice for a small organization in Nicaragua that might have otherwise been overlooked. Because someone chose to teach her the importance of making disciples and helping others through missions education and her own dedication to reaching the lost in Nicaragua, the lives of girls have been changed both physically and spiritually.

Several of Cindy’s former GAs are now missionaries and others have girls who Cindy teaches now. “I’ve had the opportunity to serve another generation. The mothers who grew up in these missions programs see how missions education influenced them, and they want to emphasize that to their children. It’s been such a blessing.”

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Cindy was discipled through missions education as a young child and discipled countless others as well.  Because she was invested in and invested in others, lives have been changed around the world. How has Christ changed your life through missions education? How are you making disciples because of the investment someone else poured into your life?

HEART Fund Grant Helps Hurricane Harvey Victims

As Hurricane Harvey weakens into a tropical depression, a $5,000 HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund grant from national Woman’s Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation will assist hurricane victims.

“There are thousands of people in Texas and surrounding areas who are hurting,” said David George, president of the WMU Foundation. “This grant will help storm victims with some of their immediate needs.”

At least 28 people have died as a result of the storm, and more rain is expected as Harvey continues to move inland. Texas authorities are reporting more than 32,000 residents are staying in shelters right now, and thousands more have property damage.

The $5,000 HEART Fund grant will help WMU of Texas provide gift cards to those who have been impacted by the storm.

“We are so grateful that this grant will allow us to respond in Jesus’ name to the very real and urgent needs that are all around us right now,” said Carolyn Porterfield, interim executive director of WMU of Texas.

National WMU and the WMU Foundation expect to make additional grants as relief efforts continue and rebuilding begins.


“Our prayer is this initial grant will provide some necessities for people who are hurting right now,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of national WMU. “We will continue to work with the WMU Foundation and WMU of Texas during clean-up and rebuilding, and we will pray for, support, and love our neighbors as they recover and rebuild.”

“It’s human nature to forget about the victims once the worst is over and it’s no longer on the news every day, but we will not forget,” George added. “In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we will continue to look for ways to help. As the body of Christ, we will be there for our neighbors as they rebuild their homes and lives.”

The HEART Fund was created in response to Sept. 11, 2001. Since that time, the WMU Foundation has granted more than $473,000 from the HEART Fund to disaster victims in the United States and around the world.

The WMU Foundation is accepting gifts to the HEART Fund for disaster relief victims online or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.

HEART Fund Grant Supports Smoky Mountain Fire Victims

As the Smoky Mountain resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge continue to recover from devastating wildfires, a $5,000 HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) Fund grant from the national Woman’s Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation will assist artisans and other workers struggling due to the decline in tourism.

The wildfires that swept through the Smoky Mountain region in late November and early December 2016 came at the beginning of the busy Christmas tourist season. As a result, many who make their living in arts and crafts, service, retail, and other tourism-related enterprises lost their homes and jobs.

The needs of these workers are still great, said Vickie Anderson, executive director of Tennessee WMU.

“The decline in tourism is causing reduced hours, layoffs, and loss of jobs. Also, a lower income housing shortage in Gatlinburg has gotten worse since the wildfires, which means that many workers are having to relocate to Pigeon Forge and beyond,” Anderson said.

Many of the workers did not have cars because they could walk to work from their homes in Gatlinburg. Others lost their cars in the fires. The lack of reliable transportation coupled with the housing shortage has resulted in increased homelessness in the area.

“The homeless population is growing because monthly costs in housing and transportation are increasing drastically for so many,” Anderson said.

Those most affected are people who work in hotels, restaurants, entertainment attractions, and shops. Gatlinburg businesses employ many temporary and international guest workers who are ineligible for other forms of assistance.

The HEART Fund grant will be distributed through Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries (SMRM) to help workers with transportation, housing, and transitional needs as they rebuild their lives after the fires. As “boots on the ground” in Gatlinburg, SMRM personnel are ministering through the relationships they have developed through many years of faithful service, Anderson said.

A $5,000 HEART Fund grant awarded in December 2016 allowed SMRM volunteers to give out gift cards to help fire victims with immediate needs. However, relief funds have slowed dramatically since the beginning of the year, said SMRM director Bill Black.

“Our income has almost stopped in terms of money for helping those affected by the fires, but the needs have not stopped,” Black said. “We remain deep in this holy and painfully beautiful fire ministry.”

The HEART Fund was created in response to September 11, 2001. Grants allow Christians to provide relief and rebuilding assistance as they minister to disaster victims in the United States and around the world.

The WMU Foundation is accepting donations to the HEART Fund for disaster relief online or by mail to WMU Foundation HEART Fund, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL 35242.