VANCOUVER, Wash. (BP) — Randy Adams praised the faithful service of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, while also reflecting back on the pioneer spiritual leaders who first took the Gospel to the Northwest in the 19th century, at an awards banquet at the Northwest Baptist Convention building in Vancouver, Wash.
“You guys are adventurers for Jesus,” Adams, Northwest Baptist Convention executive director, said. “Your adventures center on fires and floods and tsunamis and terrorist attacks — any part of world whether it’s a flood in Myanmar, an earthquake in China or wherever it might be, you’ve been there. … You were there because there were broken, hurting people there. You don’t just go to go. You go because one by one by one you speak to and touch those who are hurting. I want to thank you on behalf of Northwest Baptists.”
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) awards presentation preceded the SBDR Round Table held Jan. 29-30 at Greater Gresham Baptist Church near Portland, Ore., and followed two days of extended SBDR training. See related story.
Adams shared with SBDR representatives a history of Christian and Southern Baptist mission work in the Northwest. Adams reflected on the Gospel of Matthew as he commended SBDR workers and their commitment to reaching out with both physical touch and the promise of the Gospel during disaster response efforts.
“Jesus connected touch and voice,” Adams said Jan. 28 before the awards were presented. “That’s what you do. You take the Gospel and connect it with touch.”
During the banquet SBDR leaders honored four Southern Baptists who were present at the ceremony. Twenty-year SBDR veteran Jim Richardson, who retired at the end of 2014, was presented with the Robert E. Dixon Award that recognized him for a lifetime of service. Richardson retired as the director of disaster relief for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Before serving in Texas, Richardson held a similar role with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Fritz Wilson, the executive director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, praised Richardson for raising the standards for SBDR work.
“In both places where he has served he has brought a level of excellence through training and in how they operate that has not only influenced them but also how we have done training in other states,” Wilson said.
The two recipients of this year’s Joel W. Phillips Outstanding Achievement Award were not able to be at the presentation and will be given the award at a later time.
Six recipients of the Distinguished Service Award, representing each of the six SBDR regions, have been selected but only three recipients were able to attend the banquet. The others will be named at a later time. The Distinguished Service Awards are given specifically for service over the past year.
Bill Johnson, a member of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, Cannonsburg, Ky., was given the Distinguished Service Award for his service as the project coordinator for Hurricane Sandy Rebuild. Johnson has been involved in the Hurricane Sandy response since it began. He has served with SBDR for 10 years.
Dean Kiser, a member of First Southern Baptist Church of Arcadia, Okla., was awarded a Distinguished Service Award for his service on the national steering committee and his efforts to keep Oklahoma feeding units up to date on current policies and procedures. He has also been involved in long-term recovery efforts related to the Oklahoma tornado outbreak of May 2013.
Kenton L. Hunt received a Distinguished Service Award for his work in developing training materials and strategies. He has also been involved in preparing ministry equipment for use. Hunt pastors First Southern Baptist Church of Williamsport, Penn. He has been an SBDR volunteer for 14 years and currently serves as the recovery coordinator for Baptist Resource Center of Pennsylvania-South Jersey Disaster Relief.
For those interested in more information about SBDR relief, contact the Baptist convention in you state or go to http://www.namb.net/disaster-relief/. Or, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262).
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers — including chaplains — and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, 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.