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FIRST-PERSON: Christmas prayers for storm victims

Residents of Bowling Green, Kentucky survey damage on a neighborhood street. Severe storms ripped through five states killing dozens of people in the wee hours of Dec. 11. (Photo by Morgan Bass)

Hundreds of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers brought help, healing and hope to thousands of people affected by the devastating tornadoes in December in the south and midwest. Volunteers manned chainsaw teams, feeding units and helped tarp roofs across the affected states.

Karen Smith, chairman of the national SBDR feeding committee and feeding coordinator for Kentucky DR, joined in serving the people of Mayfield, Ky., one of the hardest-hit areas. Smith and her crew of about 30 volunteers have been on the ground serving since Dec. 13, at a feeding unit set up at Murray Baptist Church. Most of her team and other volunteers will take go home for Christmas and some will return the next week. As of Dec. 19, more than 3,700 meals were served from her unit, Smith said.

On Christmas Day, though, Smith and one other volunteer will cook about 250 Christmas dinners for individuals displaced from their homes in the Mayfield community. Church members will deliver the meals, she says.

Smith says she stays encouraged by seeing what God is doing through the work and seeing so many needs met.

For example, she said upon their arrival, the feeding unit needed eggs. More than 39,000 eggs have come in from everywhere and have been distributed to other SBDR feeding units.

“We speak of a need among ourselves and within a short period, God has provided,” she said.

A season of prayer

In the remainder of this article, we share prayers for those affected by the storms:

Father God, we come to the throne in supplication, Lord, for the people affected by the horrific tornadoes that besieged our state (of Kentucky), and others recently.  Father, the ones that lost all tangible aspects of their lives, the ones injured and physically broken and especially, Lord, the ones whose families will forever suffer the loss of loved ones in this terrible event.

Father, we pray the children of God who know You are comforted by You and find peace in the knowledge You are with them as they look around and see Your love pouring onto them through the hundreds of Christian brothers and sisters descending into their community, and their lives to love on them and help with their burdens. 

We thank you for the thousands (of people) providing donations of supplies, money and most importantly, prayers from throughout the Disaster Relief Ministry and Baptist churches en masse.

Lord God, we pray that the people who were touched by or witnessed this catastrophic event and the aftermath and do not know You Lord, will have their eyes opened to see, and hearts touched to feel the love of God and know the wonder of His love!

Merciful Lord, we pray for our brothers and sisters who are there in the “eye of the storm” helping those with physical needs in so much devastation. But more importantly, ministering to their personal “physical and spiritual” needs to bring about healing to their lives and hope in Jesus for their soul for eternal life with the Father!

You are Holy!  Glory be thy name! Amen.

–Bill and Donna Johnson, Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Ashland, Ky., 14 years as SBDR volunteers

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being a God who is not caught off guard or surprised by the circumstances of this world.  Even though bad things happen, you do not leave us to struggle alone. You provide hope, peace, and comfort through the trials of this life.

Please provide the hope, peace, and comfort only you can give to families this holiday season.  Many are grieving a loss; whether it be their home, possessions, or loved ones.  May they find a community of believers to love on them this holiday season and come alongside them as they begin to recover and rebuild.

Give strength and endurance to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who are serving in many states across the country, providing help, hope, and healing.  Let them be a light in the communities they are serving.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

–Amanda McGary, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry Assistant, Parkland Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., three years with SBDR

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for your faithfulness and love for all of us. Thank you that you never leave or fail us. You never said we would not go through the storm, but You did promise You would be with us in them. Great is Your faithfulness.

Even when there are times or things that happen that I don’t understand, I will trust in You, for You are faithful. Please give me peace and comfort during this time of confusion, chaos and crisis. When there seems to be unanswered questions, You have the answer already.

This storm did not surprise You nor is it out of your control. But Lord, I ask You to teach me, guide me, protect me, and show me what You want me to learn. Grow me through this.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

–Ron Crow, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Director, First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Ky. in Shelbyville, Ky., served 18 years in SBDR


As we come before you in a time where many are devastated and hopeless, remind us afresh that God sent a Savior into our world.

He was Emmanuel, God with us. How thankful we are that you do not abandon us to the darkness, but in Your love, you came and continue to come to us.

For those of us who have experienced such grace, help us to give with overflowing grace to those who are hungry, displaced and broken.

Help us to give as You gave.

On this day we pray for healing restoration to all living in the aftermath of the storms.

We pray for those on the ground serving that they would be the hands and voice of Jesus to the hurting and to the hopeless.

And we pray that all would know and experience the peace and hope of Christ in this season and every day.

I ask all of this in the powerful name of Jesus, Amen

–Coy Webb, Send Relief Crisis Response Director, Victory Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Ky., served 15 years in DR

Heavenly Father,

We come humbly before you to uplift the many people affected by the tornados in over five states. People are overwhelmed by the massive amount of destruction and recovery seems to be an impossible task. We need to place every individual and circumstance in your hands and ask for your leadership and guidance.

You tell us in your word that nothing is impossible with You.

We need to be careful to give you all the praise and glory for all you do and show each of us what to do to help. Especially be with those that have lost loved ones and give them peace, comfort and love as they work through these hard times. We love you and give you all the praise and glory.
In your precious Son’s name, Amen.

–Dave Karr, SBDR Chaplain, Bethel Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., served 13 years in SBDR

Lord, as I bow today there is an uncertainty in my soul as I view the chaos that seems to engulf our existence.

I am confident of your promise to never leave us or forsake us.

In this season, I see even more clearly the ultimate proof of your unimaginable love and grace when I reflect that a people who had lost their way was visited by a little child, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, who is the Light of the World. As the light in eternity past shined over chaos so the Light of eternity present shines in the chaos of today’s world and says to us, “in the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Lord, we trust in this promise and are reassured of your victory given us through the shed blood of Jesus.

In Christ’s name, Amen.

–Tom and Susan Vannoy, Hope Baptist Church, Moravian Falls, N.C., served 17 years with North Carolina Baptists Men/ Baptists on Mission.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the many blessings You freely give each day.  We love You and praise You.  Many people have been affected by the horrible storms and some have lost family members, homes, or businesses and are wondering how they will move forward.

Please place someone in their lives to show them hope and comfort can be found in You, Lord. Be with our disaster relief volunteers who have worked so many months this year.  Please protect them as they travel and work on dangerous sites.  Keep them focused on serving You as they chainsaw, mud out homes or feed people. 

Dear Lord, give them boldness to share Your Love with a hurting world.  Give us courage and strength to be of use to You. In the Holy Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

–Doris Perryman, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief State Training Coordinator, Trinity Baptist Church, Okla., Has served 14 years in DR

Dear Lord, as the Psalmist penned, “Hear my voice,” I echo the same.

Hear my voice, Lord, as we consider our circumstances.

Thirty seconds and lives forever changed. We are broken. Hear my voice as I search for words to express my sorrow, my hurt, yet my confidence in you.

Hear my voice for as I seek to settle the fear and trembling unknowns of my family.

Hear my voice as I stand shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors with words written only with tears and silence.

Though no answer to why may come, I know you hear my voice.

Thank you for hearing my cries for help as these volunteers serve us offering hope and giving us the help, we need. This is my confidence. You, hear my voice.

In Jesus name, Amen!

–Delton Beall, Transitional Pastor, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief State Director (retired), First Baptist Church Lynn Haven, Lynn Haven, Fla., served 13 years in SBDR


I pray for strength, endurance and the peace that passes all understanding.

I pray for health for you and your family as you, on one hand celebrate the birth of Jesus and on the other may be mourning for the loss of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.

Psalm 59:16

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”


–Karen Smith, chairman of the National SBDR feeding committee and feeding coordinator for Kentucky DR, Pleasant View Baptist Church, Waynesburg, Ky., served 27 years with SBDR


Thank You for this Christmas season that we celebrate the Day that you stepped out of Heaven to be born to live and walk among us through Your Only Born Son, Jesus and to become the Savior of the World

This Christmas year, as you know, we have millions of your children hurting across the world but especially in middle America.

You are the master of the storms as you demonstrated on the Sea of Galilee. I pray that you will step into the lives of these hurting people and calm the storm raging within them seeking hope as they recover from this catastrophic event.

I also pray that you will move in the lives of all believers who are aware of the needs of others. Please move within them to give as you have given and to love others as you have loved us.

I thank you for the thousands of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serving now being your hands and feet serving others led by your Holy Spirit. Fill them and continue to bless them.

Thank you most of all, Lord,  for the promise of eternal life through your son Jesus.

In His Name we pray.


–Sam Porter, National Director Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Director and former Oklahoma Baptist DR director, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond, Okla., served 24 years in DR

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  • Laura Sikes