Posted on : Monday February 1, 2010

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

COLUMBIA, Md.—When disaster strikes, Southern Baptist volunteers are on the scene manning feeding units, doing “mud-outs,” repairing roofs, using chain saws to cut through debris, doing laundry, helping with communication needs and an assortment of other tasks. Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) disaster relief units have an exciting new component—a chaplain/crisis care unit. Now, when a disaster relief team is deployed, the unit goes too, providing spiritual support and counseling so desperately needed in times of crisis.

“This will allow for crisis intervention related to disasters both locally and nationally. Having the unit at the site will provide opportunities to evangelize and will open doors for us to share the gospel,” Mike Hayden said. Hayden is BCM/D’s chaplain unit leader and chaplain trainer.

BCM/D disaster relief missionary Ellen Udovich said having chaplains onsite will be a huge asset to the disaster relief teams and that workers are excited at having that resource.

In addition to disaster relief support, the new unit has the additional benefit of being available for churches to use for community outreaches such as block parties, health fairs and other events.

Hayden said using the unit at these types of ministries is a great opportunity to let the community know Christians care for them and are here to listen to them.

“Each of us needs to look for ways to reach out to our community. What better way than to let the community know we are here to listen to them and to meet their needs,” Hayden said.

The unit, a large trailer, has a central area that can accommodate several people for counseling or be used as a waiting area. It also has two small rooms that can be used for counseling or offices and it’s equipped with a DVD/VCR player, Christian videos, Bibles and crisis materials. The unit is designed to be a self-contained base for the chaplains. In addition to radios and communication equipment, there is a small restroom and convertible sleeping space. Depending upon the situation, the trailer might be a temporary crisis care site where people can seek assistance. In other cases, the chaplains might walk through the community, staying in touch with the base and each other by way of radio.

The Baltimore Association (BBA) owned the trailer for ten years. It was once utilized for logistics, but had fallen into disuse. George Blevins, director for disaster relief ministry for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) and for the BBA, considered selling the trailer, but after a discussion with Hayden, the two men got the vision for the new ministry, prayed about the possibilities and felt God leading them to go forward.

Hayden led a devotional time and dedication prayer for the unit during the annual BCM/D fall disaster relief training. Volunteer disaster relief workers, many newly trained, laid hands on the trailer as Hayden prayed, asking God’s blessing and direction in the use of the unit.

Hayden said pastors and lay leaders can serve as volunteer chaplains. He plans to begin enrolling for training beginning this month.

The trailer now resides at Middle River Church and is available for church use. For more information about using the trailer call George Blevins (443) 271-4004. For information about chaplain training call Mike Hayden, (443) 966-3995. For general disaster relief information, call Ellen Udovich, (443) 250-2555.