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DISASTER RELIEF DIGEST: Oklahoma, Kentucky volunteers share hope in storm zones; WMU Foundation helps ministries rebuild

Kentucky Disaster Relief workers have taken on more than 700 jobs in Fairhope, Alabama. (Kentucky Today photo)

Oklahoma Baptist DR shares the Gospel, sees lives changed

By Chris Doyle/Baptist Messenger

LAKE CHARLES, La. (BP) – Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) continues to help those who were affected by recent hurricanes. In recent weeks many Southern Baptist DR volunteers served in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, more than 350 people made professions of faith in Christ.

“Meeting people in their brokenness gives opportunity for advancing the Gospel,” said Rusty McMullen, pastor of First Baptist Church in McAlester, Okla. “That’s what Disaster Relief does primarily. It opens the door for people in the middle of their hurt and pain and difficulty to be able to come in and meet needs physically. As you meet needs physically it opens the door to talk about the Gospel.”

McMullen and a group of six men from his church spent a week in Lake Charles, partnering with a group from First Baptist Claremore, Okla.

“What we said from day one is the reason we are here is to share the Gospel,” said McMullen said of serving with DR chainsaw teams. “We were constantly looking for opportunities. We worked on 15 homes during the five days we were there, and at every single home, minus one, we got to share the Gospel with the homeowner.”

While they were cleaning a yard, a neighbor named David came over to talk with McMullen and his team members. The DR volunteers explained to David why they came from Oklahoma to serve hurricane victims.

McMullen said David told them he “rode out the storm” in his house, experiencing all kinds of emotions and dealing with the fear of the hurricane. After they connected, McMullen shared the Gospel with David, who prayed and made a profession of faith in Christ.

“This has changed my life,” David said. “What you guys have done, not only in your work but also what you’ve done in sharing the truth of the Gospel with me has changed me.”

McMullen said David began to weep while they were praying, and the new believer in Christ was overcome with joy.

“It was a beautiful picture of the Gospel moving in his heart,” McMullen said.

Read the full story here.

Kentucky Disaster Relief brings hope to Fairhope, Ala.

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (BP) – Fairhope, Ala., has found hope through the volunteers of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief.

In an area reeling from damage done by Hurricane Sally that uprooted trees and threw debris everywhere, 25 volunteers from Kentucky with chainsaws have become superheroes.

“We had so many; they gave us the whole portion of the county,” said volunteer Jeff Free. “We divided up into two teams and have been going hard.”

Free said the group has completed nearly all of the more than 700 work orders it received.

Free is on his second disaster relief (DR) deployment in the past month. He said it will probably be his last one in 2020 because he has no more vacation days available. Many DR workers sacrifice not only personal time but vacation time to help those in devastating situations and to share the Gospel with them.

Free said one of his fellow volunteers in Alabama is self-employed, meaning he’s not getting a paycheck for time off.

“I’m still getting a paycheck (because of vacation), but if you’re self-employed then you shut down your operation for a week,” Free said. “That’s a big sacrifice.”

Free said the damage was considerable from Hurricane Sally, which was predicted to be a Category 1 hurricane but was upgraded. Many of the residents in Fairhope decided to ride out the hurricane when they thought it was going to be a Category 1, Free said.

Then they held on for dear life as the storm passed through the area.

“We left one home and a lady named Helen, who was 80 years old, told me she decided to ride it out,” Free said. “She said, ‘Even leaves hitting your windows sounds like something is going to crash through.’”

Read the full story here.

WMU Foundation helps six Louisiana ministries rebuild

By Brian Blackwell/Baptist Message

ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – The Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation has gifted the Louisiana Baptist Convention $25,000 to cover insurance deductibles for four Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) sites, as well as the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center and the Baptist Building – all damaged by Hurricane Laura.

While insurance adjusters have not completed full assessments for all the facilities, preliminary reports estimate there is at least a combined $1.2 million in damages, according to Dale Lingenfelter, business and information services director for Louisiana Baptists.

The BCM facilities at McNeese State University, Louisiana Tech, University of Louisiana and Louisiana State University, Alexandria, will need either partial or complete roof replacements. The roof of the Louisiana Baptist Building, the state mission center in Alexandria, also needs repairs. Meanwhile, Tall Timbers must repair one of its cabins, the ropes course and the loading dock that were damaged by the storm.

“The damage to McNeese BCM was extensive,” Lingenfelter told the Baptist Message. “The roof damage allowed a lot of water inside which will call for a complete rebuild of the interior and replacement of all contents. We are working with insurance, and work has already begun on the rebuild. We are grateful for all of our ministry partners in the Southern Baptist network, like the Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation, that have blessed us and so many others in times of need.”

The donation was given through the WMU HEART Fund, which stands for Humanitarian Emergency Aid (for) Rebuilding Tomorrow. Established in 2001, the fund allows for the WMU Foundation to respond to requests from WMU leaders in humanitarian emergencies.

Read the full story here.

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