Imagine you rush your son to the hospital because he fell at a youth skating party. He’s in a lot of pain and you’re pretty sure he broke his leg or worse. You’re met by a friendly nurse who says, “Hey! We’re so glad you’re here and we’re so sorry about your pain. We’d love to help you, but unfortunately, our x-ray technician didn’t show up tonight; our orthopedic specialist is on vacation and we’re also out of casts. Also, our pain meds are on backorder. Come back in two weeks and we’ll take care of you.”
Using a similar example during a recent interview, BCM/D Executive Director Michael Crawford said, “We expect hospitals to be ready when we have a health crisis, and they are. But if a crisis comes in our state, our communities — be it a national disaster, or even more likely, a socio-economical crisis, we, our associations, our churches are not ready to respond.” Crawford wants to see that situation change with BCM/D Ready.
“BCM/D Ready is a brand new 2022 and beyond initiative designed to mobilize our churches and our associations so that they’re ready to respond to national disasters and community needs,” Crawford explained. “We recognize that Disaster Relief (DR) is focused on natural disasters, which is vital. But our communities suffer more from sociological, economic, and just normal crises. We believe we need to position and resource churches to be ready to meet those needs.”
He likened BCM/D Ready to a green light giving the directive to step on the gas and go!
BCM/D Ready is Proactive
BCM/D Ready is the fruition of a vision Crawford had years ago. “Even before Freddy Gray, I always felt Christiandom, in general, was too micro-responsive to these issues and could be more macro. In the book of Acts, there’s a famine. Churches got together and were ready to roll and they responded. I started thinking we should be more ready.”
Seeing the Send operation in person opened Crawford’s eyes to the immense potential. “I was literally in tears,” he said. “In a location where intense storms frequently tear the roofs off homes and knock out power for a month or more, they’re ready to go. They’ve got warehouses stocked, teams organized, churches mobilized, and high communication.”
Puerto Ricans, Crawford explained, have been continuing to respond to the destruction from Hurricane Maria while preparing for the next storm. When Hurricane Fiona hit last week, the preparation helped tremendously.
Partnering With Associations
To bring that kind of organization to Maryland/Delaware, the BCM/D is partnering with the eleven affiliated Baptist Associations, which Crawford said will provide geographical and organizational clarity.
He excitedly shared that after meeting with the association directors of missions in August and sharing the BCM/D Ready vision, all were entirely on board. “We are all working together. We’re in the process of working out how to pull this off as a unit.”
NAMB strongly supports the effort and is providing resources to ensure all associations have everything they need to succeed with this initiative. “I had a conversation with (NAMB President) Dr. Kevin Ezell and he is 100% on board with this initiative and is right there with us,” Crawford said.
The organizational plan is for associations to have at least 25 individuals trained, resourced, and organized to facilitate a response to a crisis, thus deeming the association BCM/D Ready. Churches with at least one person trained will be considered BCM/D Ready.
“Some churches may contribute 12 volunteers, others one. Most of our churches are small and don’t have a ton of volunteers, but if we work together, we can at least set 25 as a clear objective.”
Crawford said, “Disasters are happening almost every day. They don’t have to be big ones.” What if a fire burns thousands of acres in the Western Baptist Association and consumes 1500 homes? Do we sit back and watch? What if we could mobilize hundreds of volunteers to help? They could rebuild a house or more, provide shelters or tents, or cover the cost of motels. They could cook food and basically be on the front lines of all the needs in the community.
What about refugees and immigrants in crisis? Schools without heat or homes without clean water? There are so many everyday reoccurring needs,” Crawford said.
Ellen Udovich, BCM/D consultant for community engagement, is excited about the initiative and said it also has the advantage of helping churches as they often want to “do something” but don’t know what to do, or how to do it. Udovich said, “Sometimes a church hesitates to reach out to meet a need because they either don’t know what they could do to help or they think they don’t have the skills or resources to help.
“But what if they’ve already surveyed their members to learn what skills, expertise, and “connections” they already have within the congregation? And what if they’ve already thought about the types of community needs and natural disaster events that tend to occur in their area and sketched out a plan, and maybe gotten some training? And what if they’ve already had “ministry response mutual aid” conversations with their association? Now they’re in a much better position to move toward loving and serving their community in meaningful, potentially life-changing ways. I love the idea of BCMD Ready!”
This is Powerful!
Ultimately, Crawford emphasized the goal is being salt and light, encouraging, loving, and sharing the gospel.
“Jesus fed people and healed people. He predominantly targeted people heavy in need, the marginalized, under-resourced, and super needy. We’ve got those communities in our two-state convention.”
Crawford strongly emphasized the impact that churches united in mission can have on others. “Our primary value is seen when we share resources on mission together. The primary value of being in a convention is sharing resources in an organized way on mission. People can pretty much get everything else from other places. But if you get 400 plus churches unified with shared values and mission and resources — that’s powerful! And we will be able to respond to things and open up doors to gospel conversations in ways we’ve never seen before.”
To learn more about BCM/D Ready and to get involved, contact Ellen Udovich at Eudovich@BCM/D.org.
Sharon Mager is a BCM/D communications specialist/editor
Feature Photo: Adobe Images