By Joe Conway
BLACK FOREST, Colo. (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers remain engaged in active responses to a host of natural and manmade disasters in North America, finding new avenues of ministry and opportunities to share the Gospel.
SBDR volunteers are already responding to wildfires in Colorado and Arizona, while preparing to respond to massive wildfires in California. Ministry to flood survivors continues in Canada, New York and Texas. The long-term response to Hurricane Sandy is at its peak, and a new door in long-term response ministry is open in Oklahoma City.
Southern Hills Baptist Church hosted a distribution of new clothing to survivors of the May and June tornadoes in Oklahoma City. Dignity U Wear, a nonprofit organization founded by Henri Landwirth, has partnered with SBDR by procuring new clothing and delivering it to survivors.
Lloyd Woodland, missions leader at Southern Hills Baptist, said nearly 200 volunteers organized two truckloads of new clothing for distribution, providing a remarkable service opportunity and a huge blessing to tornado survivors. During two consecutive weekends, more than 5,500 pieces of clothing were distributed to 858 individuals from 289 Oklahoma families.
The North American Mission Board shipped the remaining clothing to Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, where 270 people received 1,400 clothing items. Volunteers from the church hosted a two-weekend event for people affected by the wildfires around Black Forest.
First Baptist Church in Black Forest continues to host SBDR volunteers and NAMB’s response command center. Fires destroyed more than 400 homes, leading to 289 job requests mainly for property clearing and ash out, the cleanup of the residual airborne ash. About half the jobs have been completed, representing more than 8,100 man hours and more than 1,500 heavy equipment hours.
In Canada, NAMB continues to assist the Canadian National Baptist Convention‘s Canadian Global Response with flood recovery in Calgary and other parts of Alberta. SBDR volunteers from the Carolinas have been assisting Canadian volunteers who are nearing completion of mud-out jobs, with volunteers from Montana expected to arrive this week. Leaders expect the response to the Quebec train derailment to involve primarily chaplains.
Long-term rebuilding efforts in New York and New Jersey continue in response to superstorm Sandy. Volunteers from Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are serving in the area this week. Also in New York, volunteers are assisting flood survivors in the Herkimer area, with about 80 job requests remaining.
In Texas, volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and Texas Baptist Men are serving survivors of flooding in Eagle Pass. More than 200 requests for assistance were received and approximately 70 remain to be completed.
In Yarnell, Ariz., SBDR volunteers are providing 600 meals a day to volunteers, first responders and firefighters responding to wildfires and potential flooding. Volunteers were preparing sandbags in preparation for expected rainstorms.
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers and chaplains, and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
To donate to SBDR efforts, contact the Baptist convention in your state or visit
namb.net/disaster-relief-donations . Donate by phone at 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks designated for “Disaster Relief” to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Visit
namb.net/Sandy for more information on the two-year Sandy Rebuild Project.
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. NAMB writer Beth Bootz contributed to this story. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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