St. Louis—A month after heavy Midwest rains created historic flooding that damaged hundreds of homes and killed at least two dozen people along the Mississippi River, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief wrapped up relief jobs this past week and began to consider the need for long-term rebuilding efforts.
SBDR volunteers from 18 state conventions, including Kentucky, served at sites throughout Missouri last month in a variety of flood-response roles. Volunteers completed about 400 relief jobs, according to Dwaine Carter, state director for Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief.
“I hope (the people of Missouri) see that we’ve been ‘help, hope and healing’ as we come,” Carter said. “The help is physical. We give them hope that things are going to be okay. Then we trust that God will bring the healing in their lives.”
Carter also says that SBDR volunteers presented the gospel 110 times. And 13 people expressed a desire to commit their lives to Jesus. Southern Baptist volunteer hours totaled 2,908 days during the flood response.
Carter says volunteers served throughout the southern part of the state from the Arkansas/Oklahoma border north to the I-44 corridor. Disaster relief units focused much of their efforts in the St. Louis area. Units worked out of First Baptist Church of Arnold, Central Baptist Church of Eureka, and First Baptist Church of Ellisville.
While Missouri took the lead in the efforts, the North American Mission Board supported the work by providing equipment, funding and personnel, according to Mickey Caison, interim director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Caison notes that in addition to all the physical work provided by SBDR volunteers, Southern Baptists provide spiritual support as well.
Chaplains made more than 550 chaplaincy contacts in the past month in Missouri.
“(We let) them tell their story,” Caison said. “They get to share what happened to them with someone who cares about them, someone who is sympathetic to them. The hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We care enough to want them to know the God that we serve, the God who loves us. We want them to know that God as well.”
Illinois volunteer Butch Porter served during a week of the flood response in Missouri. He said he enjoyed being a part of SBDR because it gives him an opportunity to help others.
“I can’t preach and I can’t sing. But I’m good with people,” said Porter, a member of First Baptist Church of Galatia, Ill. “My wife and I feel like this is a great way to serve. When the Lord walked this earth, He helped people.”
Other state conventions that participated in the effort included Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Kansas-Nebraska, Iowa, Utah-Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. (BP)