WADDY, Ky. (BP) – In the midst of ongoing recovery from recent natural disasters, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief workers trained more than 200 volunteers during an event at Graefenburg Baptist Church Saturday (Sept. 10).
Of those trained, nearly 100 of them had never received any type of disaster relief training before. After completing the training on Saturday, those first-timers received certification to serve with Kentucky Disaster Relief on future projects.
Ron Crow, disaster relief director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said a typical training event will draw around 50-75 people, but the state’s natural disasters of the past few months have increased interest “dramatically.”
“It was so exciting to have this many people at our training event,” Crow said. “These people have been moved with compassion and that creates the interest in them to sign up. The people at Graefenburg Baptist were wonderful hosts, and it just gave us a great opportunity to illustrate our partnership with churches and the family structure of Kentucky Baptists.”
A tornado ripped through western Kentucky in December 2021, killing dozens of people and destroying entire towns. Then a few months later in late July, flash floods in the eastern part of the state took the lives of more than 30 people and left millions of dollars in damage.
National Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Director Coy Webb said the flooding will have a longer-lasting impact than even the tornado.
In the face of this devastation, Crow said Saturday’s training session is an encouraging sign.
He explained recovery from the disasters has moved toward to the “rebuilding phase.” There were once 11 different Kentucky Disaster Relief sites set up to provide relief throughout the state.
Crow said only two sites still remain, and as relief efforts are “winding down,” the focus now turns to helping rebuild devastated communities. This phase often involves Kentucky DR representatives helping with projects run through local churches and Baptist associations in heavily affected areas.
Training events like the one on Saturday help prepare volunteers for future trips and projects.
In addition to first-timers being trained and credentialed, the event served to re-certify volunteers and offer “cross-training” in areas like feeding and food safety, chainsaw safety, flood recovery, first aid and temporary emergency childcare training.
Crow said attendees at these training events are typically those older than 50, who often have more free time, but the recent disasters have brought in some younger volunteers as well.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is even partnering with campus ministry directors to develop a training designed for college students.
Crow added that the trainings give state DR workers the opportunity to show the partnership that exists among all Southern Baptists.
“These events help us show people that Kentucky Baptists are not alone,” Crow said. “We tell people at these events there were 19 different state conventions who responded to the flooding in our state, including a couple that are still here ministering. This really shows the Cooperative Program in action.”
Through this cooperative work of Southern Baptists, Crow said there have been 90 baptisms officially reported since relief work began in July.
He encouraged any Kentucky Baptists wanting to get involved to attend an upcoming training in London, Ky., Oct. 8, which will be the last training event of the year.
“There are a variety of skills needed to be prepared for this type of ministry, and Scripture mandates that we prepare and equip the saints for ministry,” Crow said.
“Something happens in the heart and life of a Christian when they are so moved that they want to be a part of this type of ministry. DR work models and compassion ministry of Jesus and helps change the lives of not only those we minister to, but our volunteers as well.”