Posted on : Thursday November 2, 2017

Editor’s note: In honor of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief Appreciation Day, observed this year on November 5, BaptistLIFE is highlighting how the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware has been involved in the massive effort to assist hurricane victims in the southern United States.

In addition to various evangelism trainings throughout the year, disaster relief has continued to be a huge tool for evangelism for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Doug DuBois, State Director of Evangelism and State Director of Disaster Relief, has had a particularly busy season in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Here is a summary of the incredible amount of work that is taking place:

First, Hurricane Harvey, Texas. Maryland/Delaware Baptists quickly responded in the wake of “the worst disaster” to hit Texas by generously donating materials for crisis buckets and hygiene kits as well as donating financially to help disaster relief teams address needs. In addition to financial donations, the BCM/D had set up three collection centers for material donations, which were delivered to Fredonia Hill Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, a partner SBC church who regularly brought supplies into the areas devastated by the storm.

Members of First Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, minister to southwestern Florida residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Presently, Disaster Relief teams are wrapping up initial efforts, but there are still opportunities for teams to go to Texas to do mud-out and recovery for the coming months in Houston, Vidor, and Groves. After this, teams will go into the long-term rebuild stage of recovery. Local church mission teams can consider going down and partnering with local churches in those same areas.

Next, Hurricane Irma, Florida. Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief volunteers deployed to Immokalee, Fla., in a successful partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief and First Baptist Church, Immokalee. Over 70 volunteers representing all of our 11 associations served on site. BCM/D DR was able to deploy four recovery units, a shower unit, laundry unit, and a feeding unit. BCM/D will continue to partner with the FBC, Immokalee, to assist them as they help their community through the rebuilding process. As it turns out, God had already established a connection with First Baptist Church of Immokalee. They are the sending church for Restoration Church, in Towson, Md., where Chris Pugh is planter!

In a video, First Baptist, Immokalee, Pastor Timothy Pigg thanked Maryland/ Delaware Baptists for giving to the Cooperative Program.

“Because you have done that, your state convention has been able to help us out at First Baptist, Immokalee, in a great way. You provided for us supplies, manpower… the resources we need to begin to grow, repair and recover from the disaster of Hurricane Irma.” Pigg shared that with our help, over 200 volunteers distributed supplies of water and food to people in 550 cars plus the over 150 who walked to the church. “There was one time that the car line was completely out of town,” Pigg said. “It was incredible, and it could not have happened without your churches partnering with us to accomplish that.”

After the initial distribution, the church and DR volunteers have systematically gone from door-to-door, asking how to serve them. They’ve covered damaged homes with tarps, cleaned up debris, and have done some mudout and various rebuilding projects already. They’ve also done a lot of spiritual work.

Rick Merritt of Lynnhaven Baptist Church shared Christ with Jose (last name unavailable), a Florida resident affected by Hurricane Irma. Jose had walked by the trailer where Merritt was working.

“You’re the Christians who are working on the houses?” Jose asked him. “Yes, we are!” Merritt responded, asking Jose if he knew Jesus. “No, I am a sinner,” Jose replied.

“We’re all sinners,” Merritt explained. After asking questions about not being clean, Jose prayed, accepting Jesus into his life. “He says he’ll be at the church Sunday morning. Praise God!” Merritt said.

As of mid-October, the official Disaster Relief response is winding down across the state, and long-term rebuild is in focus. Maryland/Delaware congregations are invited to do mission trips to the “Sunshine State” to assist in rebuild projects, with churches such as Goodland Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Immokalee, among others.

Lastly, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico. Deploying in Puerto Rico has been logistically challenging due to the amount of devastation caused by the storm. As of mid-October, there are more than 14,000 federal staff including more than 800 FEMA personnel, on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Governor of Puerto Rico has established Regional Staging Areas around the island, serving all 78 municipalities. The National Guard is delivering supplies to the regional staging areas around the island.

So, where does this leave BCM/D DR when it comes to the Caribbean? BCM/D DR had volunteers, as part of a team from Region 1 (Virginia through the Northeast conventions), to assist in distributing resources and food. We are working, along with our Region 1 partners, to adopt a zone of the island for an extended period as a mission opportunity. This could allow congregations to go on mission trips to assist local church planters as they work throughout their community. Stay tuned for more information, as this is still in development.

Those who are interested in any of these efforts can go to the BCM/D’s DR website,, where they can sign up under the upcoming deployment page. Those interested in giving financially to assist these efforts can donate online at Consistent updates about disaster relief also are available.