By Shannon Baker
The Bible is clear. There will be famines and earthquakes in the end times. And even now, there are constant reports of massive blizzards, fires, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.
In the midst of it all, there are Southern Baptist volunteers who are ready to respond—and to share the Good News of Jesus.
In Maryland and Delaware, presently there are over 300 volunteers who work in disaster relief, a true “Love your neighbor” ministry.
These trained Disaster Relief (DR) volunteers assist distressed residents with feeding, chainsaw work, mud-out, command/communications, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repairing and rebuilding, and power generation. They assist in disasters locally as well as throughout the United States.
Beginning in January, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware began reorganizing the DR volunteer leadership structure. A six-member regional leadership team will oversee training, budget expenditures, and recruitment of the local effort.
Training in FEMA/Disaster Relief Incident Command is required to supervise any emergency or crisis that might arise in our region. Doug DuBois, who oversees disaster relief in Maryland/Delaware, will support the leaders that come from within our local churches as they spearhead the direction of disaster relief.
The convention currently owns and maintains a feeding unit and a recovery unit for disaster relief efforts.
Recently, the BCM/D partnered with the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey to install a DR database. This database will improve understanding of the DR volunteer base and will provide a tool for communicating and deployment.
Also, in partnership with the SBC of Virginia, standardized training for leaders is being developed. Introductory classes will be placed in a video format making it more convenient for potential volunteers.
And finally, the BCM/D will construct a few training rooms on the grounds of Skycroft Conference Center.
These plans include building a basement for mudout training, a communications room, and a hands-on chainsaw unit training facility. These training areas will equip volunteers to have hands-on training prior to being deployed into a crisis, DuBois shared.
In the fall, Dr. Naomi K. Paget, Chaplain and Crisis Interventionist, will lead a training called Clinical Incident Stress Management (CISM): Assisting Individuals in Crisis for anyone who works in the fields of crisis intervention, disaster response, education, emergency services, employee assistance, healthcare, homeland security, human resources, mental health, military, spiritual care, transportation, chaplaincy or traumatic stress.
The training will be held September 15-16 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day at South Columbia Baptist Church, 8814 Guilford Road, Columbia, MD 21046. Attendance is required on both days to receive disaster relief credit and a certificate. A 10 percent discount is available for current DR volunteers. Learn more at https://bcmd.org/event/cism17.