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His new faith among fruits of disaster relief, Cooperative Program

KIRBYVILLE, Texas (BP)–Clyde and Rose Lummus huddled in their small house as Hurricane Rita stormed up the tree-whiskered hill country of east Texas. The only noises louder than the howling gale were the monstrous oak crashing through their roof and the stately pine crushing a pickup truck in their front yard.

Both trees were about three feet in diameter. “It took us a day and a half to clean up that mess,” said Scottie Stice, director of missions for the Del Rio-Uvalde Baptist Association in southwest Texas, who spent two weeks leading a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chainsaw crew.

“We spent a lot of time working with believers,” Stice said. “And at that point, doing disaster relief becomes a pastoral or healing role.” But for Stice, it became more than that.

Stice was told by Charles Burchett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kirbyville, that the Lummuses were church members. Rose became a Christian in the church and was baptized there as a young girl.

Clyde stayed inside almost the entire time the chain saw crew was at work and, to Stice, seemed to be “an old cowboy, self-made, self-sufficient.” But when the chainsaw crew finished the job, Clyde did come out and tearfully thank the men for their work, Stice said.

But on Friday, Sept. 30, Stice saw Clyde crying again.

SBC President Bobby Welch was touring east Texas that day and concluded his travels by preaching an evangelistic sermon in a vacant lot across the street from First Baptist.

Welch led the crowd in a prayer of repentance from their sins and commitment of their lives to Christ. When Welch asked those who’d prayed the prayer to raise a hand, Clyde’s went up, but he remained at his seat and didn’t walk down to the front of the crowd with others when Welch asked.

Stice approached Clyde immediately after the meeting.

“He was already crying when I got to him after the final prayer,” Stice said. “I put my hand on his shoulder and asked, ‘Did you pray to receive Christ?’ And he said, ‘I sure did.’”

Clyde also said, “‘I’m not sure if I had done this in the past, but I’m sure I’ve done it now,’” Stice recounted.

Stice describes disaster relief work as “a tool the Lord can use to reach people for evangelism. In the midst of suffering we have a chance to minister the Gospel and a ray of hope with someone by giving them a hot meal or by mudding out their hose or by getting a tree off their roof.

“And sometimes we get to pray with believers and encourage them in troubling times,” Stice said. “I can’t count the times we heard Christians say, ‘We lost everything, but the Lord had been good to us.’ They’d been without electricity for two weeks and without water for one, but they were grateful to have their lives, their families and their churches.”

Stice expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve, and also for the Cooperative Program, noting that CP funds from churches allow the work of the Southern Baptist Convention to go on while Baptist volunteers from all walks of life can drop what they’re doing and answer disaster relief’s call.

Stice noted that his chainsaw crew had gathered in San Antonio to go to Baton Rouge to aid Hurricane Katrina victims, but Hurricane Rita changed those plans.

“That’s where I got another illustration of how the Cooperative Program works,” he said.

“We were at our rally point in San Antonio when our deployment was changed. We had local church members composing our disaster relief teams from our own association and two others, the Frio River and Hill Country associations.

“Our guys were on the phone with the guys at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and they were talking to people at the North American Mission Board.

“And then it struck me: This is one huge cooperative effort: local churches working through the local associations, and associations working through the state convention, and the state convention working with the national entity. It thought it was a perfect illustration of how the Cooperative Program should work,” Stice said.

Stice told Baptist Press Southern Baptists are “blessed to have such a system in place because it led to meaningful ministry, and it led Clyde Lummus to Jesus Christ.”

    About the Author

  • Norm Miller