At last year’s BGCT meeting in Amarillo, a disaster relief feeding unit served lunch to messengers on the first day of the convention. It was a delicious taco soup, and they prepared it and fed a thousand people in a relatively short period of time. The unit was displaying its ministry to the messengers. I was impressed.
Our disaster relief ministries are important. I have seen places where the very recognizeable disaster relief logo, shared by various state convention ministries under the NAMB umbrella, is in abundance in places that have experienced storm devastation. I’ve heard testimony upon testimony about how visible and how helpful Baptist disaster relief has been in New Orleans, and along the Mississippi gulf coast since Katrina. Baptists are working everywhere in New Orleans, with a permanent headquarters for various groups that now stream into the city with regularity to help residents with cleanup and repair services. Texas Baptists were among the first on the scene during Katrina, and recently, during Gustav. Most of these people are volunteers who do this because it is something God has called them to do, and they love to serve people. That makes this ministry a tremendous witness and testimony to Christ.
Baptists have contributed a lot of money to provide equipment necessary to help. We have all kinds of mobile feeding units, capable of turning out thousands of meals in a short period of time, over an extended time if necessary. We have shower trailers for volunteers who sometimes sleep in a local church or school where such facilities may not be available. Some of those are pretty sophisticated, containing laundry equipment as well, so volunteers can wash clothes. Several states have tool trailers, carrying along equipment so volunteers can have what they need close at hand. Even more remarkable is the fact that the various state conventions are willing to share their volunteers and equipment with other state disaster relief organizations. It is a fine example of Baptist cooperation that works about as well as any other. Your Cooperative Program dollars are at work.
One of the most remarkable things about this ministry is the way people work together. Sometimes, especially with larger catastrophes, units from several different state conventions come together in a given location. The work is coordinated by NAMB volunteers and staff, and everyone works together to help, doing whatever their unit is set up to do. It is a cooperative effort, with the focus on providing relief services to people in the devastated area. Imagine, a group of Baptist volunteers from different churches and different states, getting together, organized by an SBC agency, working together for a common cause. When we really need to, we can work together and accomplish just about anything, can’t we?