According to Sam Porter, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) DR director, the ministry will be even more effective with a staging center for personnel and relief goods to be dispatched to disaster sites.
Porter and leaders with the BGCO have cast a vision to create the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief TEaM (Training, Equipment and Mobilization) Center.
Since Oklahoma Baptist DR was born in 1973, teams have served in major disasters across the state, nation and world, including the May 3, 1999 tornado in Moore, Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the May 20, 2013 tornadoes.
“This year, we are 43 years old and we have never had our own home, so to speak,” said Porter. “(Former DR Director) Laddie Adams erected a building in 1982 on the Oklahoma Baptist Children’s Home grounds in Edmond, where our equipment resides today.
“When I came in 1998, we had 300 volunteers, a feeding truck and a trailer and people with an awesome heart to serve,” said Porter. “Since that time, God has continued to give us a heart to serve and has expanded our array of volunteers and equipment.”
Porter talked about the ways the ministry has changed and grown and how the new DR TEaM center will be critical to the future of the ministry.
“We have trained more than 6,500 people (not all of whom are currently serving) and now have a fleet of vehicles used for DR work. Many of our rolling vehicles and trailers are dispersed around the state. We currently cover almost an acre behind the children’s home property just parking trailers and trucks. It looks like a used truck parking lot, so we try to keep it as orderly as we can so it’s not an eyesore for the Children’s Home. So we need to be off of the children’s home property as well to not inhibit their ministry as they make presentations.
“We have the most incredible volunteers, in my humble but accurate opinion, in the whole U.S. to lead this thing, and many of them are retired. They are retired from very successful businesses and the companies they ran and worked in. We want Oklahoma Baptists to say, ‘hey we love you guys and appreciate you guys enough that we want to give you something worthy because of all that you have done to help impact thousands of lives the last 43 years.’”
To make the TEaM center a reality, Porter said it will take many gifts. BGCO Development Officer Marty Harkey said DR is praying for and accepting lead gifts for the forthcoming capital campaign.
“Every size of gift is important,” said Harkey. “With the $3.5 million goal before us, it will take many giving generously to make this DR staging center come to life.”
Porter anticipates the TEaM center will be a tool in the hands of the Lord for the advance of the Gospel.
“Ultimately we serve because we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and to earn the opportunity to share God’s love and the Gospel with everyone,” he said.
“When people are affected by a disaster of any kind, they are often very receptive to the Gospel. Just as people’s gift toward Disaster Relief have helped us serve so many, without a charge, we believe many people will give toward this effort.”
Those wishing to make a donation may contact Harkey at 405/516-4868 or [email protected] or, go to www.bgco.org/donate.