EDISON, N.J. (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed after Hurricane Sandy had prepared more than 1.2 million meals as of Monday (Nov. 19) in New York, New Jersey and, earlier, in West Virginia.
As more power is restored to homes in the hardest-hit areas, SBDR leaders said the need will diminish for meal preparation by SBDR units deployed from numerous states.
Volunteers also have reported 56 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry.
On the horizon: The North American Mission Board will coordinate both church-to-church partnerships in the region and the mobilization of student volunteers for long-term ministry and service in the Northeast.
“The church-to-church initiative in response to Sandy will be different in nature than that of the response to Hurricane Katrina,” said Jerry Daniel, team leader for the North American Mission Board’s LoveLoud emphasis.
While the church partnerships fostered in the wake of Katrina focused in large part on the physical rebuild and repair of church infrastructure, the aftermath of Sandy will see a different ministry emphasis, Daniel said.
“There was not a lot of damage to church facilities, so the church-to-church aspect of Sandy will focus on churches partnering with churches in the affected area to do work in the community,” Daniel said. “This will provide the local churches a platform with their neighbors. The assistance given by partnering churches will allow for an increased bandwidth of ministry by local churches in the Northeast.”
Planning and logistics also continue for mobilizing college students to assist with cleanup operations over the winter break. Details for the volunteer opportunity for students and the church-to-church initiative will be available soon, Daniel said.
In total, more than 1,200 SBDR volunteers from 34 states and Canada have responded to Sandy. Baptist convention volunteers have served from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas-Nebraska, Kentucky, Maryland/Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota/ Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, New England, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania/South Jersey, Southern Baptists of Texas, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Baptist General Association of Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah/Idaho and West Virginia. Also responding are volunteers from North Carolina Baptist Men and Texas Baptist Men.
Terry Henderson, DR director for Texas Baptist Men, shared an email from an emergency worker who thanked SBDR volunteers for their service. The email read, in part:
“I am an EMT on deployment to help with evacuations and emergency medical operations. I have been here for two weeks now under some very stressful and less than ideal conditions. Yesterday your disaster relief team arrived while we were out on a mission. Today they were serving us breakfast. I just wanted to say thank you.
“All of us are exhausted, stressed and homesick and most of us have been living in our ambulances for the entire deployment. A nice home-cooked meal and smiling faces are a very welcomed sight. Also the hot showers and ability to do our laundry will not be overlooked either. Again I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your arrival has made a very tough mission more bearable.”
From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund via www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).