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Georgians turning to Christ in the wake of Hurricane Idalia

Volunteers from Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief remove trees from a damaged house in Valdosta on Monday, Sept. 4.

VALDOSTA, Ga. (BP) — In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, residents of south Georgia have been turning to Christ for hope, comfort and salvation.

“When people get into these kinds of life-or-death situations, they start thinking about their own mortality,” said Bob Sprinkel, a longtime volunteer with Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. “When a hurricane hits, people need hope, and Jesus is that hope.”

Disaster Relief volunteers reported that nine people had made salvation decisions in the Valdosta area as of Monday (Sept. 4).

“God is at work in these situations,” Sprinkel said. “These hurricanes, God uses them to bring people to Him.”

Valdosta’s Northside Baptist Church Pastor Robby Foster said it helps that the Disaster Relief volunteers are patient, kind and compassionate, always showing the love of Christ to the people they’re serving.

“Keep in mind, they’re all volunteers,” Foster said. “They stay way out of their comfort zones — sleeping in Sunday school rooms, making their own food, serving as the hands and feet of Christ. It’s important for our state to realize how desperately we need this organization. You just don’t know when a storm is going to hit. We caught a hurricane, but you never know when an ice storm is going to hit up north or a tornado is going to blow through.”

Disaster Relief volunteers took time out Sunday to attend a worship service at Northside, where they received a lengthy standing ovation from the congregation.

“Our people are so proud to have them here,” Foster said.

Valdosta took a direct hit from Idalia when, Foster said, it was still a Category 2 hurricane.

“You could see trees falling everywhere,” he said. “It’s nothing I want to go through again. For a good five hours, it was as ugly and bad as anything I’ve ever seen in my life.”

About 100 Disaster Relief volunteers spent the long Labor Day weekend helping hurricane survivors with cleanup. Their work is expected to continue for about three more weeks.

Chris Fuller, a member of one of the Disaster Relief chainsaw crews, said the volunteers are working amid heat, humidity and biting insects to provide hope, healing and help to people in hard-hit areas.

Gov. Brian Kemp estimated that the storm did some $35 million in damage across southern Georgia. He has requested federal assistance for residents, businesses, and local governments impacted by Idalia.

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said Georgia Baptists have deployed mobile kitchen crews, heavy equipment operators, chainsaw teams, chaplains, family care volunteers, mobile laundromats and shower units.

Their work, which is done free of charge, is being concentrated in a five-county area around Valdosta where most of the Georgia damage occurred.

Foster said Idalia provided a spiritual wakeup call to Valdosta residents.

“How do you go through this,” Foster asked, “and not know you need the Lord? There was nobody unscathed.”

This story originally appeared in The Christian Index.