ALPHARETTA, Ga.–As far as disasters are concerned, 2017 was “unprecedented.”
The nation has been impacted by hurricanes of historic proportions, regionally pervasive wildfires and localized storms that struck numerous communities. Nations in the Caribbean also have been pummeled. The losses of life and property are more than statistics—they represent people who desperately need hope and healing.
In each of these moments when many families and communities were reeling, thousands of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers from 48 states faithfully answered the call.
“Southern Baptists have responded by serving over 700,000 hours and providing 2.7 million meals,” said David Melber, president of the Send Relief ministry of the North American Mission Board.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers “bring healing to those in need and offer the hope of Jesus Christ in the midst of life’s biggest challenges,” Melber said. “Over 500 people have made professions of faith in Christ through the efforts of Southern Baptists.”
For Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, this year has seen an extremely active hurricane season. Volunteer teams served an equivalent of 3,178 days in responding to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria by sending feeding teams, flood recovery units, chaplains, feeding units, and laundry and assessment crews to Texas and Florida.
Most recently, a 19-member team from Kentucky served on the island of St. Thomas doing feeding, chainsaw work, debris clean-up and flood recovery assistance. They also trained 19 people in mass feeding and chainsaw safety.
In addition to preparing more than 100,000 meals and completing 437 mud-out jobs, 85 repair jobs and 72 debris-clearing jobs, Kentucky DR volunteers have made 2,909 ministry contacts, distributed 558 Bibles and 303 tracts, presented the gospel 213 times, and recorded 30 decisions for Christ.
“I continue to be thankful for the sacrificial and compassionate service of countless Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers in the midst of disasters,” said Coy Webb, state disaster relief director. “These volunteers bring help, healing, and hope for the sake of Christ to untold numbers of hurting people.
“The Southern Baptist Convention has designated Nov. 5 as Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday, but a church can choose to celebrate this special ministry on any date,” Webb urged.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell noted in advance of Disaster Relief Appreciation Day, “Because of your efforts and your giving, Southern Baptists are among the three largest providers of disaster relief in the United States. What an incredible example of how our family joins together to meet needs and, most importantly, share Christ.” (BP/WR)