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FIRST-PERSON: Hurricane Katrina: How can we help?

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–We are all glued to the news. On television, we continually see images of the unbelievable devastation of the Gulf Coast.

We receive email updates every time there is breaking news related to Katrina’s aftermath. Those of us with family or friends living in the impacted areas have been trying to call our loved ones and make sure they are OK. As Southern Baptists we are particularly concerned about the extent of the damage to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and churches in the area. Those of us who do not live in areas affected by Katrina are having a hard time even imagining that all of this is real. Are those really pictures of the southern United States? Is that really New Orleans? You may be asking what you can do to help.

Hurricane season is the source of unpleasant memories for my family. Almost a year ago, my father-in-law passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 52. My wife and I consider him a victim of the 2004 hurricane season, although he did not live in the path of any of the storms that struck last fall. He worked for the North American Mission Board as the national off-site coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. He was one of the thousands of Baptists ready to respond when natural disasters strike. Many of them are responding right now.

By Monday, Baptist disaster relief teams from across our convention were already making their way toward the Gulf Coast. These volunteers, most of them laypeople, will provide meals, clean showers and other services to countless people in the coming months. They will meet the physical needs of some of the neediest among us, sharing the Gospel with thousands in the process. They are making a true kingdom impact, and they need your help.

NAMB and Baptist state conventions train Southern Baptists to provide disaster relief for those in need. Many of these volunteers will be on the field in the coming days. One way you can help is by calling your state convention office and finding out when the next training will be offered. Then you can go and be a part of this ministry.

Another way to help is by giving. Some may be unable to go themselves because of specific work or family restrictions, but you can provide financial assistance to those who can go. Disaster relief is expensive and NAMB and state conventions need your financial assistance to make sure that they can meet every need that the Lord places before them. By making a donation, you help other Baptists make a tremendous difference in the lives of hurricane victims. Contact your state convention or local association to find out how you can give. Contributions to NAMB can be made online at www.namb.net/disasterrelief, by calling 888-571-5895 or by mailing a check to the North American Mission Board Disaster Relief Fund, Box 116543, Atlanta, Ga., 30368-6543.

Finally, all of us can pray for our disaster relief volunteers. We can pray for their safety as they minister in areas that are still dangerous. We can pray for their strength and stamina as they serve meals, provide construction assistance and meet various other needs. We can pray for the leadership at NAMB and our state convention offices as they decide which teams to send to which locations and the best way to use their resources. And we can pray that God would be honored through the actions of our Baptist volunteers and that thousands of people would be brought into the kingdom of Christ because of their efforts.
Nathan Finn is associate archivist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a Ph.D. student in church history.

    About the Author

  • Nathan Finn

    Nathan A. Finn is professor of faith and culture and executive director of the Institute for Transformational Leadership at North Greenville University. He is also the Recording Secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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