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‘Any way you’d be willing to give me a hug?’ flood survivor asks DR volunteers

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers at work in Massachusetts.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) —The elderly gentleman’s home had been flooded after devastating rains but was now put back together. He then looked at the four Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who had come to his door and blurted out his questions.

“Who are you people?”

“How is this possible?”

“Who is covering all the cost?”

Wayne Terry, the blue hat of the Kentucky team that will be in Massachusetts until Saturday, had the answers for him.

“I told him we were Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief and we’d come all the way from Kentucky to help him,” Terry said. “It’s all because it was paid a long time ago when Jesus was put on the cross. All we can do is follow the request of our Lord and Savior, and that is to be His hands and feet. I told him at the bottom of our literature it says we’re here to bring help, hope and healing. I quoted that to this 78-year-old man who was to the point of giving up.”

The gentleman’s response?

“Any way you’d be willing to give me a hug?”

He got his hug and the Gospel. They witnessed to the man, who said he had grown up in the Catholic church and even been an altar boy, but added, “They’ve never done anything to help me.”

He told the group that he knew of “the Baptists,” calling them a “wonderful group” and saying he was going to “learn more about Baptists” because of what they had done for him and many of his neighbors who were in a hopeless state after days of rain produced flooding that forced water into basements, ruining items in storage, carpets and furniture.

Sometimes, Terry said, all you can do is “plant the seeds. We make sure everybody knows the reason why we come and do this, that it’s what the Lord wants us to do and they need a relationship with Him.”

Terry said a group from the Greenup Baptist Association made the trip and several others came from the western part of the state. They have worked together since last Saturday, clearing out muddy messes and taking out water-soaked walls. Once they were able to get things dry, they sanitized to make sure there was no mold.

It is hard work, and, in this particular area, Terry said the local government wasn’t doing much to help.

Fifteen volunteers from Kentucky and eight from Delaware and Maryland are working in the neighborhoods cleaning up homes. Because the city does not want any debris placed on the curb to be picked up, Terry said they had to take furniture, boxes and other items and put them in backyards and side yards. Later, the city dropped off dumpsters so they could clean up what was in the yards.

They are staying at City United Church, which is Baptist affiliated, Terry said. A feeding team has come to provide breakfast and dinner and make sure they have a packed lunch, so the workday doesn’t stop for long. Terry said they had a convoy of four vehicles that made the drive with a stopover in Harrisburg, Pa., where they stayed for the night.

North Carolina Disaster Relief has provided a laundry and shower trailer for the teams, Terry said.

“We all work together and have a good time doing it,” he said.

When Terry talks about Disaster Relief work at the churches in the area where he lives, he always makes sure to invite them to be part of it. His wife even told him she could “see the passion on his face” that he has for DR work.

It is a passion that leads to Gospel opportunities in Massachusetts and across the country, and it is made possible by contributions from Kentucky Baptists to the Cooperative Program.

This article originally appeared in Kentucky Today.