As America watched footage of the devastation caused by the deadly California wildfires that destroyed over 14,000 homes and the widespread loss and destruction caused by Hurricane Florence and Michael, many people were moved with a desire to help those suffering in the aftermath of these disasters. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief deployed volunteers to 10 states and four international sites this past year as we responded to 17 different disaster events in a very active response year.
As a state disaster relief director, I often get calls from spontaneous volunteers wanting to serve, and it troubles me that I am often unable to use these well-meaning individuals. The most frequent reason that I cannot deploy these good-hearted folks is that they are untrained. Most of our work in Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief can be done by any individual who is in reasonably good health, is willing to work, has a heart for their neighbor, and loves Jesus. However, training is vital, because it allows us to respond in the most effective way.
I am always surprised by those who devalue training in Christian ministry. Would we make an appointment with a physician, who woke up one morning and decided to be a doctor with no training? Would we take our car for repairs to a neighbor who has no training as a mechanic? Of course not. Therefore, why do we think that training is not important to do ministry effectively? We are representing the King of Kings as we respond to help in times of disaster. This should inspire us to be trained, so that we can respond in the most positive and useful manner.
Disaster Relief training prepares volunteers to serve by:
1. Giving an understanding of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief work and history.
2. Laying a Biblical foundation for compassion ministries.
3. Sharing important information about disasters and relief work.
4. Teaching them to understand the right way to deploy in times of disaster.
5. Instilling empathy for victims, so that our compassion offers genuine help.
6. Providing responders with tools that will enable us to listen to hurting people.
7. Allowing them to discover where their gifts and abilities can be best utilized in a disaster response.
8. Instructing helpers on good safety practices in disaster areas.
9. Focusing our ministry in a way that shares the hope of our Lord.
It is great to have a heart moved by compassion and to have a desire to serve, but it is far better to be prepared to go in the most effective way. After all, it is not about you. It is about providing genuine help to the hurting. For your sake, for your neighbor’s sake, and for your Lord’s sake, get trained.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief will offer trainings in Mount Washington (January), Ashland (February), Hopkinsville (March), Somerset (April), and Franklin (September) in 2019.
For more information on training opportunities and to register for training events for 2019, go to: http://www.kybaptist.org/dr.