>> by Alan Carlton, Member, Tulsa, Parkview
Recently, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Teams have been in the news. Their bright yellow shirts and caps are everywhere being the hands of Jesus to communities in need.
You may not be aware that this year marks the 40th anniversary for Oklahoma Disaster Relief Teams, which has teams that have worked in Moore, Edmond, Little Axe, Shawnee, Wagoner County and New Jersey. In the past, they have served in Colorado, Indonesia, Thailand, Haiti, Galveston, New Orleans, Woodward, Oklahoma City and Bowlegs, just to mention a few.
You also may not be aware that, while they meet people in their greatest times of need and reach out with the hands of Christ during devastation, like Christ, the team members really “have no place to lay their heads.” What I mean is that this organization of more than 5,500 Oklahoma Baptist volunteers has no centralized facility from which to:
• Maintain and store its equipment,
• Train volunteers,
• Keep volunteers’ vehicles safe while they are serving.
Disaster relief work requires a lot of equipment: food preparation kitchen trailers, shower trailers, chain saw trailers, mud-out equipment, laundry trailers, lighting units, trucks to move all this around, and thousands of other equipment items. While Boys Ranch Town east of Edmond has gladly housed many of these items for years, the equipment is exposed to the elements and can interfere in Boys Ranch Town’s primary function. Disaster Relief needs its own facility.
Without a current facility, much of the vital training of Disaster Relief must be done under less than optimal conditions. A dedicated facility would allow for frequent and thorough training for the teams, assuring better response by those who are called upon to be prepared in a moment’s notice.
Volunteers often assemble in Oklahoma City and travel as a group to help in disasters. Currently, there is no secure facility in which to safeguard their vehicles while they are responding to the needs of others. It is only right that their property be secured from the risk of theft or damage while they are away.
Living in this world means that disasters come in many varied and unexpected forms: wildfire, earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics, super storms, tsunamis and war.
“There but for the grace of God, go I.” Perhaps you may have had that thought, as I did, when you saw the horrendous damage in Moore. All these disasters leave hurting people who need the kind of help Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers can provide . . . if given the chance.
With this in mind, I am voicing a request on behalf of the ministry for your help to reach the next level through a central home-based facility for Oklahoma Disaster Relief.
A 5-10 acre facility site in the Oklahoma City area is needed. The location needs to be near a major highway for visibility and ease of access for heavy equipment. The facility will need high bays, trailer loading docks, five paved acres, security fencing, an office and a large training room.
Estimates are that a location and this type of facility could be acquired and built for around $2 million. During just one hurricane, volunteers working from this facility could easily touch 500,000 lives. When this cost is spread out over the millions of people whose lives will be touched, the cost per life becomes small. Aren’t the lives of each of these “friends we don’t know yet” worth our investment? Christ certainly thought they were.
With nearly 1 million Southern Baptists in Oklahoma, though you don’t have to be a Baptist to help, surely we can raise $2 million for this worthy endeavor within a short time. Will you help? Life is uncertain. An Oklahoma Disaster Relief Team may even be called to help your family next time.
Since this is Disaster Relief’s 40th anniversary, please think about a gift that honors that milestone. One dollar for every year is only $40; $100 for each year is $4,000. Could you consider $1,000 per year for $40,000 or even $400,000? Possibly you or your organization could donate the acreage. How much do you want to help? How much does God want you to help? Please send a generous gift today to:
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Facility Fund
3800 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
You may also give online by going to www.bgco.org/donate.