Posted on : Tuesday May 21, 2013

By Shannon Baker
BCM/D National Correspondent

MOORE, Okla.–Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is on site in Moore, Okla., and local Baptist churches are already mobilizing to serve their neighbors affected by the May 21 massive tornado.

According to Ellen Udovich, who works with Maryland/Delaware’s Disaster Relief volunteers and is in communication with the North American Mission Board’s Disaster Relief, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is establishing an Incident Command Post at First Baptist Church in Moore. Eddie Blackmon from the NAMB Disaster Relief team is en route to Oklahoma to assist the Incident Command team, and the North American Mission Board is standing by to activate their Disaster Operation Center to coordinate a multi-state Disaster Relief response if needed.

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma‘s Executive Director Anthony Jordan and Disaster Relief Leader Sam Porter shared a video update about the destruction and devastation faced by Oklahomans.

“We call upon all Oklahoma Baptists to join us in praying for these, who have lost so much. We will be there to serve them,” Jordan said.

Porter shared that 5,500 Oklahoma Baptists have gone through Disaster Relief training to know how to respond in disasters.

“Today is the day. It’s game time in Oklahoma with Disaster Relief,” he said.

Porter shared  that people were immediately on the ground when the first tornado hit on Sunday, and now, during the “granddaddy of all tornados” (almost same track that tornadoes hit 1999 and 2003), their teams are responding with their feeding units, debris clean-up, and chaplaincy.

Knowing many in Maryland and Delaware also want to help, Udovich offers the following tips for helping in this disaster:

Pray. Pray for survivors, responders and for the churches ministering to their neighbors and their city.

Make a financial contribution. Cash donations (see end of post for where to send) allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors without incurring many of the costs associated with sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods.

Wait for the right time to volunteer. Photos of devastation tear at our hearts and we feel compelled to immediately “go and help.” Yet in the first crucial days, large numbers of untrained, unsolicited volunteers showing up can actually slow down the responders and siphon off resources, energy and attention urgently needed for the relief effort. Yet in time all disaster responses—even the Katrinas and Sandys—move into the long-term recovery and rebuilding phase. This is often the ideal time for out-of-town church mission teams to come alongside with needed skills and resources in partnership with local churches to assist the affected community heal, rebuild and move forward.

Oklahoma Baptist WMU also sends their thanks.

“Oklahoma Baptists want to thank you for all of the kind messages, emails and prayers for our state as we have experienced the devastation from the past couple of days,” shared a spokesperson with WMU. “We are still in the midst of assessing needs and reduce/recovery efforts are still in progress.”

Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers and Airmen respond to a devastating tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kendall James, Oklahoma National Guard)

Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers and Airmen respond to a devastating tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kendall James, Oklahoma National Guard)

Noting there are many tough days ahead, the Oklahoma WMU offer some specific ways you can pray and help those in need:

  • Pray for those affected by the storms, especially those who have experienced the death of a child.
  • Pray for our Disaster Relief volunteers and staff who are already mobilized.
  • Pray for our churches as they seek to minister to the needs of their congregations. As far as we know, none of our SBC churches were damaged (a miracle!) and they are all collecting donations.
  • Pray for responders who are still on the scene. More than 100 people were rescued throughout the night, but there are still at least 20 school children trapped under debris. We are still praying for miracles of life.
  • Pray for hearts to be open and sensitive to the Gospel during this time.

Ways to contribute:

Please also consider making a financial contribution. All contributions will go directly to the Oklahoma Baptist Convention to support their relief efforts. One hundred percent of the donations will go towards those affected by the storms and not salaries.

Online Donation: You can make an online donation using this form.

Mail In Donation: If you prefer to make a donation by check please make payable to BCM/D and mail to: Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, 10255 Old Columbia Rd., Columbia, MD 21046. Please write “Oklahoma” on the memo line.

Alternatively, if you would like to give directly to Oklahoma Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, please click on the link