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Gospel focus motivates, makes Southern Baptist crisis relief unique

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers pray with a storm victim during a deployment to Louisiana.


NASHVILLE (BP) – The capacity for help from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is high. In fact, one key SBDR leaders says it ranks right up there with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army in resources available to people in crisis.

Still, that’s not what sets it apart among relief organizations. Coy Webb, the crisis response director for Send Relief, says it’s the intentional Gospel focus that makes SBDR stand out.

“We like to say that we like to do two things – we want to offer practical help when people are hurting, and we want to offer the hope of Christ,” Webb told Baptist Press.

While crisis and disaster are obvious needs, “the greatest crisis in the world is lostness and that people have not yet had an opportunity to know the God who loves them and created them for a purpose,” he said.

Webb has served in the role at Send Relief for a little more than two years. He came to the Southern Baptist compassion ministry after serving many years leading disaster relief efforts for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and pastoring local churches.

The month of August calls for a Focus on Christian Service in the SBC annual calendar with an emphasis on ministries of Send Relief.

Webb believes crisis relief work gives Christians the opportunity to “step outside the walls of their church buildings and, sometimes, step outside their own communities to make an impact for Christ.”

He said through helping people at their greatest time of need, he’s personally witnessed believers’ credibility restored with people who said they would never step foot in a local church.

Webb specifically recalled a time a time he was working with a crew in a small community. They encountered an older man who needed help, but told them he didn’t want to hear about God or Jesus while they worked.

Webb said the man’s hardened exterior was softened over the next few days as they helped to clean up and repair damage at his home.

By the end of the week, the man placed his faith in Jesus Christ and was open to being connected to a pastor in the area who could build a relationship with him. That pastor later informed the team that he baptized the man a few weeks later.

Webb believes encounters like this are what motivate SBDR workers. “Most disaster relief workers have a heart for people, but they also have a passion for Jesus. They put that together to serve Him in the worst moments.

“I think that makes them unique because most people are running from a disaster but these volunteers are running toward it to help people,” Webb told Baptist Press.

Most Baptist state conventions have disaster relief teams, Webb said. Each state convention offers specific opportunities to serve. They include:

  • Chaplaincy ministry
  • Chainsaw crews
  • Mud out crews
  • Feeding units
  • Laundry units
  • Mobile shower units

All workers must receive training and certification before they can serve on the field. Webb encourages people who are interested to check with their state convention for training opportunities.

Learn more about Southern Baptist crisis relief at SendRelief.org.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter
    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive CommitteeRead All by Brandon Porter ›