They say your reaction to a yellow traffic light tells a lot about you. When you see it, do you slow down or hit the accelerator? When Oklahomans and others throughout the country see Southern Baptists’ yellow disaster relief shirts, they are sure to see our volunteers speeding up to help people in need.
Wildfires, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. The past year of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) has been arguably the busiest in the 40 years of service. When visionary leaders like Laddie Adams helped establish DR work in this state, I am sure they could scarcely have imagined all of the tragedies that would come.
What they could sense, though, is God’s call for Oklahoma Baptists to establish this ministry, and that God can turn tragedy into triumph for the victims. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about the plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of DR at the BGCO Annual Meeting in Broken Arrow on Nov. 11.
In the meantime, there are training opportunities to help you get involved. Recall in May how you wanted to help, to get your hands dirty through relief work in Moore and elsewhere. Now you can. Visit www.bgco.org/calendar, or see the schedule on page 5 of the Messenger each week, to find a training opportunity near you. The BGCO also has opened up a way for volunteers to spontaneously help through a new Spontaneous Unsolicited Volunteers program, whereby people can sign a waiver and do more basic tasks related to DR.
Even as I write this, our tireless men and women in yellow are still serving, this time in the wake of Colorado’s devastating floods. To stay connected to the latest DR efforts, we have established a special website, www.okdisasterhelp.com, complete with photos, news and stories. You also can get free text message alerts by sending a text that says “BGCODR” to 33733 as a way to stay connected to the work.
It has been amazing to see people pray and go in these trying times. It also has been amazing to watch people give. More than $1 million already has been given to victims of the May tornadoes as immediate relief, and the BGCO leadership is working to use wisely the remaining monies to be an active, compassionate part of the rebuilding effort, such as through the mobile homes provided to those who lost everything.
While other disaster relief volunteer operations may get more headlines and donations, the work of Southern Baptist disaster relief is becoming increasingly known. NBC news anchors Brian Williams and Harry Smith even referred to Southern Baptists as the “Faith-based FEMA.”
In a live broadcast from Moore in May, Smith said to Williams, “As you and I have seen in so many different places in this country, if you’re waiting for the government, you’re going to be in for an awful long wait. The Baptist men, they’re going to get it done tomorrow.”
We never know where our DR operation will be needed tomorrow, whether here in the United States or around the world. What we do know, however, is that the thousands of Oklahoma Baptist volunteers, led by director Sam Porter, will go wherever we are called. We will serve with our hands and speak the Name of Christ to those at their greatest hour of need. Then the world will see our works and “give glory to the Father in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16).