Posted on : Monday February 18, 2013

Disaster Relief volunteers present a Bible to a homeowner affected by Hurricane Sandy.

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

COLUMBIA, Md.—When Hurricane Sandy mostly dodged Maryland, Brian Paskill felt immediate relief. But as news reports revealed extensive damage in New Jersey and New York, he wanted to help. The Mid-Maryland Baptist Association offered the perfect opportunity.

From Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Paskill traveled to Long Island, N.Y., with others from South Columbia Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church and Crossroads Church. His brother even flew in from Corpus Christi, Texas.

The team worked along with Samaritan’s Purse to mud-out homes, ripping out water-damaged walls and discarding ruined belongings. “I felt I was throwing away memories,” Paskill said sadly, a deacon at South Columbia.

Joe Andrist, South Columbia’s head trustee, led prayer at each home. When the team offered Bibles and Wal-Mart and Lowes gift cards, the homeowners often broke down while expressing thanksgiving.

One international couple was hungry to learn about Jesus. The team shared their faith, and the couple accepted Christ as their Savior.

But it wasn’t just the homeowners who experienced such gifts. Paskill’s brother, Robbie, was touched so deeply, he surrendered his life to Christ. Stuart Pulliam, who had just started attending South Columbia and had accepted Paskill’s challenge to “get out of the pew and do something,” also accepted Christ, as did another man from Friendship Baptist.

Paskill’s team crossed paths with a Delaware church serving there. It was Brandywine Baptist Church—the same church his wife had tried to drag him to earlier in their marriage.

“It was God’s funny joke of putting into perspective where I was and where I am now,” Paskill said.

This effort was one of many touches from Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware churches. For instance, Maryland City Baptist Church in Prince Georges County set up as a storm shelter at the request of the county emergency management office. Deep Creek Baptist and Pleasant View Baptist in Garrett County opened as warming centers/overnight shelters, and provided meals for people who lost power during the snowstorm following Hurricane Sandy.

On Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, which sustained the most local damage from the hurricane, Marion Baptist prepared and served 300 meals for storm survivors at the Crisfield Civic Center.

Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke, Md., did mud-out work and other ministry in Crisfield. First Baptist Church of Princess Anne helped a family affected by the storm.

[pullquote]“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm…” (Isaiah 25:4)[/pullquote]
Lynnhaven Baptist Church volunteers also did mud-out and housed Disaster Relief teams from Maryland/Delaware, Virginia, and Florida for two weeks. The BCM/D Disaster Relief mobilized Incident Command volunteers, damage assessors, recovery, feeding, shower/laundry and chaplain volunteers. Community feeding and mudout operations were coordinated with the Town of Crisfield, Somerset County Emergency Operations Center, Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Maryland Department of Human Resources, the Virginia towns of Sanford and Saxis, and faith community partners.

Command Incident Officer Carl Brill noted there was quite a bit of reluctance from Crisfield residents when offered assistance “notwithstanding the fact mold was already growing.” Many residents, who live well below the poverty line, knew to remove carpet, but Brill equally was concerned about the damaged walls.

“It is concerning because we don’t like leaving work undone,” agreed Terry Davis, a volunteer from Florida. But she held onto hope. A fellow team member, when cutting a tree, discovered a “pancake-sized chunk” of the tree with a red cross in the center, she said.

Other Disaster Relief volunteers assisted several local churches in ministering to their communities. The Eastern Shore feeding unit served meals at the Red Cross emergency shelter in Salisbury before, during and after Hurricane Sandy; two small feeding teams deployed to New York supporting Red Cross mass care community feeding; and two small recovery teams deployed to New York, supplementing teams from other states.

First Baptist Church, Waldorf; Emmanuel Baptist Church, in Huntingtown, Md.; and Dunkirk Baptist Church, among others, also sent teams. The Arundel Baptist Association assisted the Sector N.Y. Coast Guard unit in distributing donated items to families in need.

Presently students from area colleges are ministering in Staten Island through a North American Mission Board project.

Ellen Udovich, BCM/D Missions Involvement team leader, feels strongly God was really working through the storm, especially in the larger metropolitan areas. “God opened amazing doors. We were praying hard for spiritual opportunities in [New York]—a city that is very hard to reach,” she said.

Want to learn more?

The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware provides Disaster Relief training videos, including: Before Disaster Strikes: Basic Preparedness for You and Your Family and Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief Overview at