“Will disaster strike?” That is never the question. It is, more realistically, “When and where will the next disaster occur?” Tornadoes, floods, fires, hurricanes and earthquakes are regular events in our world. Oklahomans have seen our share of disasters with fires, floods and devastating tornadoes ripping across our state. Every catastrophe presents the opportunity to meet real needs, heal hurts and share the Gospel.
Many years ago, under the direction of Laddie Adams, the BGCO joined other state conventions in developing a corps of disaster relief workers who stand ready, on short notice, to go anywhere in Oklahoma and beyond to relieve suffering. What began as a small group of dedicated and trained workers has grown into a large band of brothers and sisters committed to serve. Their number now stands at 3,502.
Disaster relief is not just about workers. It is also about equipment. In the last two years, our state convention has replaced its semitrailer truck, which is equipped to cook thousands of meals each day. In fact, the reputation and effectiveness of our disaster relief ministry is so great that a Jewish person provided the funds for the new tractor to pull our trailer. We have added other essential equipment to help meet the needs of people and their property.
Baptist associations take disaster relief ministry very seriously. They have joined the convention’s efforts by building trailers for chain saw and cooking equipment and crews. They do a tremendous job of responding when disaster strikes.
Through the Oklahoma State Missions Offering, you participate every time disaster relief units and workers are activated. You provide the food, fuel and multiple other necessities for these folks to touch people devastated by tragedy.
But there is more. When a tornado hits, we are able to help churches and individuals with emergency funds. You can imagine the panic and bewilderment when everything in life is in turmoil from disaster. People are struggling with great loss. I cannot tell you what it means to your Christian brothers and sisters when we are able to provide even minimal emergency funds to help them up front and early in the aftermath of calamity.
Across the years, church buildings have been destroyed by fires, tornadoes and floods. It is a great privilege to represent you in providing emergency assistance to these churches. I was pastor of a church that was destroyed by fire prior to my arrival. Twenty-five years later, the scars still existed in the hearts and minds of those who stood and watched their church burn. I assure you, any help we are able to provide to one of our churches in the midst of this kind of experience will not be forgotten.
This month, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who, in many cases, lose all their worldly possessions. When years of hard work go up in smoke, get leveled by a tornado or become waterlogged by flood, and the victims are left with only memories, they need a helping hand and an encouraging word. Because of your gifts to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering, our disaster relief workers will be there to offer real and meaningful help. More significantly, these devastating events often provide opportunities to share the Gospel and see people brought to faith in Christ.
Please give generously to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering through your church.