MURRAY, Ky. (BP) – Ron Crow says the work being done in western Kentucky is a visual image of the Cooperative Program in action.
Crow, the director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, has been at the front of the organizational effort as different churches, associations and conventions work together in cooperative fashion. Hundreds of volunteers have come from Kentucky and other states to aid their neighbors after the destructive Dec. 10 tornadoes.
“This is really showing the Cooperative Program at work even within our own states, the churches and associations working together with the Convention and other state conventions cooperating as well. It shows, not just financially and the offering in the plate, but tangibly, with volunteers and resources putting the Cooperative Program into focus visually. We can do so much more together. Finances are great but to see people get out of the pews and into the field is good to see.”
Sixteen salvations have been recorded so far by Kentucky Baptist DR volunteers, he said.
“That’s why we do what we do,” Crow said. “We don’t know what other ministry opportunities have been able to do. That’s a number we can count.”
Kentucky DR brought in more than 170 volunteers and a new group of 74 are the boots on the ground this week doing chainsaw work, tarping and feeding, Crow said. Three chainsaw teams, 2-3 tarping teams, the feeding operations and chaplains are on the scene working out of First Baptist Church Murray.
Forty-five of the trained Kentucky DR volunteers were in their first time participating at a weather event and that doesn’t count the untrained volunteers, he said. Crow expects the training sessions next year in Owensboro and Winchester to both have large attendance.
Crow, who is taking the week away from the field, said the Bowling Green response has closed. He and wife, Lisa, are visiting family in Missouri for Christmas celebrations. But the Kentucky DR leader’s phone and email has stayed hot with messages and updates.
“We thought we’d be winding down, but we have several more large jobs,” he said. “We’re staying busy working in the Benton and Mayfield areas. The rain could pose a problem and extend the work into next week.”
Crow said it was also worth noting that Kentucky Baptist Convention Associate Executive Director Jim Donnell and his wife, Ginny, and KBC President Harold Best are serving in Murray this week. “I think it’s worth noting that those folks are volunteering their time,” he said. “We appreciate them a lot.”
“We’re down here for a few days to help with the feeding unit,” Jim Donnell said. “We’re helping prepare some food, washing dishes, cleaning tables … anything that Karen (Smith) says to do, we do. I had no idea the DR program was as organized as it is. Everybody has their roles. It’s a very interesting thing to see.”
Donnell said his wife had been wanting to do DR volunteer work for some time and since they both had time off from work, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. “This worked out timing-wise for both of us. I’m glad we came,” he said.
He said they would visit the Mayfield area before heading home on Thursday.
Best worked with the chaplain team visiting churches and praying with pastors in the area.
“The destruction in Mayfield is unbelievable,” said Best, the pastor of First Baptist Church Burlington. “I’ve seen the pictures, but the pictures don’t do it justice.”
He said the volunteers, especially the Kentucky Disaster Relief workers, have been remarkable to watch. “They pick up everything,” he said. “Great workers and I know they’re like a big family.”
Best said the chaplains have looked for opportunities to share with pastors, including some whose church buildings are completely gone. He said other churches, like FBC Mayfield, suffered severe damage.
“I was with Wes (Fowler, pastor of Mayfield) this afternoon and looking out from his church toward downtown is unbelievable,” Best said. “Wes has had several crews working on their church. He’s doing a great job of leading through all of this. I admire what he’s doing.”
Crow said there is also a team of volunteers working at the KBC building in a call center, making calls to every church and pastor in western Kentucky to follow up on any needs that may have been missed.
“They have made literally hundreds of calls,” he said.
Crow said the effort in western Kentucky has been incredible, but he said there’s always work to be done in non-disaster times, too. “We can do the same at home in times of non-disaster. It’s part of our calling as believers. Let’s not forget about those times either.”