Posted on : Thursday May 24, 2018

By Sharon Mager

MIDDLETOWN, Md.—When a disaster strikes, do you feel led to help? If so, Doug DuBois, state director of evangelism and state director of disaster relief for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D), shared two ways individuals and churches can respond.

Disaster Relief

Reporting at the May 8 BCM/D General Mission Board meeting at Skycroft Conference Center, DuBois explained that Southern Baptists have been providing disaster relief for decades. In fact, Robert “Bob” Dixon, who pioneered Southern Baptist disaster relief ministry more than 50 years ago — seeing DR deployments as “invitations from the Father” — died earlier this month at age 90.

Comparing DR teams to SWAT teams or fire departments, DuBois said each volunteer is trained for specific interests. In Maryland/Delaware, DR volunteers can specialize in feeding, laundry, showers, administration, chaplaincy, and recovery work, such as chainsaw work and mud-outs and ash-outs, as well as provide temporary roof tarping.

He said many well-meaning people want to go when the need arises but realize they’re not equipped.

“The only people who can go are those who are trained,” DuBois emphasized. By preparing ahead of time, volunteers can choose to respond to deployment requests when the need arises. Those interested in participating can read more about DR and register on the BCM/D DR website, https://md.disasterreliefonline.com.

Explaining deployment, DuBois said BCM/D Disaster Relief responds when asked by a church, a national partner or the executive director to assist in a local crisis; when another state DR director requests help within our region (Region 3); or when there is a national deployment due to a crisis in another region that is too large for them to handle.

“We’ve had responses in western Maryland, Virginia, and currently response is taking place in New England,” DuBois said.

SEND Relief

For those who want to help for a specific event, the North American Mission Board offers opportunities through SEND Relief, a compassion ministry that focuses on disaster response, as well as ministries related to poverty, refugees and international students, foster care and adoption, and human trafficking. SEND Relief also oversees GenSend, which seeks to mobilize college students for mission projects.

For SEND Relief’s disaster response, training is not required. Volunteers can deliver food, assist in tarping roofs, and help with long-term rebuilds and recovery. Currently, volunteers can register to serve in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Basically, this describes “someone might want to be a good Samaritan for a specific event,” DuBois clarified. “The ultimate goal is for us to be able to serve and share the Gospel.”

SEND Relief leadership includes a site director, missions coordinator and an office manager.

For more information, visit NAMB’s SEND Relief website. To download a video of DuBois explaining this option, visit online at https://bcmd.org/resource/Doug-DuBois-disaster-response.