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DISASTER RELIEF DIGEST: DR teams see salvations in Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona

Eddie Johnson orders at Robo's Drive-In restaurant in Pound, Va., where Georgia Baptist DR volunteers helped him rededicate his life to Christ.

Georgia Baptist volunteers lead 5 to Christ at drive-in restaurant

By Roger Alford/The Christian Index

POUND, Va. – Eddie Johnson had stopped at Robo’s Drive-In restaurant in rural southwest Virginia for a burger and fries, but he got far more than that.

An unexpected encounter with a team of Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief workers at the roadside restaurant would lead to Johnson rededicating his life to Christ and four others accepting Jesus as their Savior.

“Our meeting was no accident,” said Johnson, a disabled coal miner who had grown up in church but had strayed away later in life. “It was meant to be. God put them and us here in the same place at the same time for that to happen.”

Nearly 40 Georgia Baptists had been deployed to central Appalachia to help in the aftermath of flashing flooding that killed 38 people and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Members of one of the Georgia Baptist crews decided to stop for a quick meal on their way into the flood zone. They found Robo’s, a throwback to earlier generations when the custom was to drive in, walk to a small window to place an order, and wait for it to be cooked up. The restaurant’s popularity is reflected in the crowded parking lot where people lean against pickup trucks as they talk and eat.

Robo’s has no dining room, but there are two wooden picnic tables off to one side.

Longtime Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Chris Fuller took a seat at one of the tables and struck up a conversation with Johnson and his 22-year-old son, Hunter. Fuller’s teammates, Ronnie Register and his wife Linda, joined the conversation, which quickly turned to the Gospel.

While Johnson recommitted his life to Christ, Hunter said he wasn’t ready to make a decision. After finishing their meals, they went their separate ways. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Back at home that evening, Johnson explained, the conversation with the Georgia Baptists was bearing on Hunter. He couldn’t get it off his mind. For a diversion, he looked at Facebook. His feed seemed to be filled with church posts. He looked at TikTok. More of the same. Each one of them seemed to be speaking directly to him.

“He looked at me and, with tears in his eyes, said ‘I need to be saved,’” Johnson said.

It was nearly 10 p.m. The Johnsons, along with one of Hunter’s friends, jumped into a vehicle and drove to Calvary Baptist Church in Pound, where the Georgia Baptists had set up a basecamp. Both Hunter and his friend prayed to receive Christ that night.

Johnson said the Georgia Baptists triggered a domino effect that also led to Hunter’s grandmother and his girlfriend making salvation decisions.

Fuller said the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are always vigilant for people with spiritual needs when they’ve been deployed to disaster areas.

“When people experience the raw power of nature, they can’t help but look to God,” Fuller said. “In times like that when people are feeling helpless, they realize their need for God.”

While in central Appalachia to help with the flood cleanup, Georgia Baptist teams led 17 people to faith in Christ. That makes more than 50 people introduced to Christ by Georgia crews responding to disaster areas since last year.

“We pray for opportunities to share the gospel, not only with actions but with words,” Fuller said. “If you pray for those opportunities, then God will give you those opportunities.”

Kentucky DR reports 78 salvations during flood recovery

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

Astounding stories continue coming from the eastern Kentucky mountains as residents enter the fourth week since the historic flooding devastated the area.

Volunteers from Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief and many others from numerous churches continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus, helping in recovery, providing food for thousands and sharing the Gospel whenever they can.

KYDR Director Ron Crow said 18 state conventions are assisting in Kentucky, including Alaska.

“We are grateful to all who have come to assist,” Crow said in a social media message. “We are grateful to all who have come to assist. Much has been accomplished but there is so more to be done.”

Imagine doing 3,308 loads of laundry or preparing 25,419 meals. That’s what has happened since KYDR volunteers arrived with hope and healing for the mountains on Aug. 1. The days can be long but the reward great as some of the hardest-working Kentucky Baptists clean out mud or provide meals and then begin a gospel conversation.  

Crow said there have been many “wow” moments “that only God could orchestrate” through KYDR volunteers and church volunteers.

Seventy-eight professions of faith have been recorded, 417 gospel conversations presented, and 741 Bibles distributed throughout the southeastern and eastern parts of the state over the past three weeks. The work has not slowed down since flooding practically swept away towns. Much like when tornadoes swept through west Kentucky in December, the flood recovery in eastern Kentucky will be a long-term project.

Here are some KYDR numbers about the work being done:

  • 6,406 Volunteer Days
  • 52,800 Volunteer work hours
  • 25,149 Meals
  • 3,323 Showers
  • 3,308 Laundry loads
  • 250 Flood Recovery jobs completed
  • 481 Flood buckets distributed
  • 741 Bibles distributed
  • 417 Gospel presentations
  • 78 Professions of Faith

To support the work and ministry of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, visit www.kybaptist.org/flood. One-hundred percent of your contribution will support the work in eastern Kentucky. All administrative costs are covered by the Cooperative Program, which allows 100% of your gift to support the relief, recovery, and rebuild effort.

Arizona DR workers’ unexpected visit leads to salvation

By Irene A. Harkleroad/Arizona SBC

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (BP) – Recovery teams were busy reclaiming the foundations of homes that burned to the ground during the Tunnel Fire in Flagstaff, hauling twisted metal, rebar and melted box springs and appliances and transforming them into massive heaps inside industrial-size walk-in dumpsters.

Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief incident command coordinated efforts with Coconino County and managed work orders and teams.

A two-person assessment team met with property owners to evaluate the scope of the jobs and get them on the schedule. A chaplain lent an empathetic ear, ready to listen and pray at any moment.

An Arizona Baptist DR set up a feeding team and a shower/laundry unit at First Southern Baptist Church of Flagstaff.

Of course, workers prayed for a chance to share Christ with homeowners, as well as the workers who brought the dumpsters, the heavy equipment operators and anyone else they came in contact with.

Before long, the opportunity came.

At the end of a long day, while teams were waiting for dinner, a woman stopped by the church. One of the volunteers met her on the sidewalk. Although the woman seemed hesitant, she was looking for someone to talk to.

She explained her situation as “temporarily homeless” and asked if she could park in the parking lot overnight. First Southern Baptist’s pastor, Jim Maynard, spoke with her. As a rule, the church does not allow anyone to park overnight for safety reasons. Since the Disaster Relief teams were housing there, he made an exception.

“Our volunteers invited Sandy* to stay for dinner,” said Patty Kirchner, director of Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

“Over the next few days, several of our chaplains and other volunteers began to learn her story. We invited her to join us in the morning and evening devotions.

“As we shared our lives and Christ’s love with her, she began to ask questions. Later, she told us that she saw and experienced something she hadn’t in the church she had been part of since she was a child.

“On the morning the teams were packing to leave Flagstaff, one of our chaplains had another conversation with Sandy*. That’s when she asked if she could receive Christ. Chaplain Sue led her to the Lord.”

Some team members stayed in touch with her and report that since their last meeting with Sandy, God has blessed her with a new job, an apartment and a church family.

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