Being part of the Southern Baptist Convention means many things, not the least of which means being part of a denomination that is committed to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture as well as the centrality of Christ and His Gospel. We are part of a group of tens of thousands of local church bodies, most of which are not much different in terms of size than us, who have partnered together not so that we might have some ecclesiastical authority over the local church body, but because we believe that we can do more together than we can apart. We pool our resources through our giving to the Cooperative Program and through special offerings such as Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. One of the ministries that exists because of this cooperation is known as Disaster Relief (DR). DR consists of more than 80,000 volunteers who can be deployed to areas that face all sorts of natural disasters. In fact, Battle Creek benefited from teams of DR volunteers from many states several years ago when the straight line winds did so much devastation in our community.
Now, in the wake of Harvey and the imminent threat of Irma (and potentially even Jose), these crews have been and are being mobilized to meet the needs of millions of people in these storm devastated areas. We have seen the pictures and videos, but even so we cannot begin to comprehend the scope of the damage. These relief efforts will not be completed in a matter of weeks or even months; it will take years to recover. Yet that recovery will be aided by believers like you and me who take time out of their lives, at their own cost, to spend a week or two in these areas. They will be doing hard work – hard in terms of physical labor, hard in terms of emotional impact, and hard in terms of spiritual battle. One of the most important things they will be doing is taking the message of hope that is only found in the Gospel to these areas and sharing it with people who have none.
How can you help? First, continue to be in prayer for these areas that have been affected by these hurricanes. Keep the residents who have lost everything lifted before the throne of grace. Keep the volunteers lifted up, as well, because they will only be able to have the strength to complete this task by God’s grace. Second, be willing to give generously to relief efforts. Your gifts to the Disaster Relief ministry of the SBC will go 100% to the relief efforts – not administration, not overhead. You can give through a variety of methods: 1) through the church (please indicate on your gift that it is to go to the SBC Disaster Relief); 2) online through https://www.namb.net/send-relief/disaster-relief/send-hope; or 3) by phone at 800-634-2462. Even the smallest amount, given in faith, can be used by God in a mighty way.
Second, please prayerfully consider volunteering yourself to go and help. There will certainly be plenty of opportunities in the immediate future, but also consider going in a couple of months, when the news cycle will move on to the next big thing and the people of these areas will be largely forgotten in our national short-term memory. DR will provide training for volunteers in a number of needed areas (such as food service, flood relief, chain saw units, and even chaplaincy). Would you be willing to use some of your vacation time to go? If you’re retired, would you consider committing some time to help out in these areas? Many of our DR volunteers are older; this is not an obstacle to serving. This is a chance to meet both temporal and eternal needs in a single setting. Just something to think about…