What do you do when everything you own is burned in a wildfire? Where do you turn when you don’t have insurance and your home is in rubble? Who is there to help when you are evacuated in face of another hurricane just after rebuilding your home? Where will you get your next meal?
For most of us, these questions are outside our realm of experience. Thankfully, many of us have never faced such devastation in our families. It is hard for us to imagine being faced with starting over with nothing. For hundreds of fellow Oklahomans and for friends in Colorado, Louisiana and Mississippi, these are the stark realities of their lives today. Wildfires have left them homeless; flood waters and wind have left their homes in shambles.
Their questions regarding help have an answer—Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, along with their counterparts from state conventions across America. Over the last several months, our Disaster Relief teams have given untold hours to clear debris, remove trees from roofs of houses, mud-out homes, cook thousands of meals and spend time loving people in the name of Jesus.
Oklahoma Disaster Relief has more than 5,000 trained workers ready to volunteer their time and efforts to meet the myriad of human needs left behind from a disaster. These men and women are willing to do the most menial tasks as well as the hard tasks. They have sifted through the ashes of burned homes helping people seek any treasure that survived the fire. They have carried, shoveled and scrapped their way through the ash heaps and rubble to clear a spot for families to start again.
Teams from associations in Oklahoma have cooked meals and provided loving care for many. Even now, these teams are in Louisiana preparing meals for thousands each day who are victims and also for those who are serving the victims.
Every time a home site is cleared and the mud and its aftermath removed, or when a meal is handed to a person in need, an opportunity for the Gospel is presented. These volunteers do not serve just so they can share the Gospel, they serve because they love people. Each time a tree is cut from the roof of a house, a chaplain or Disaster Relief team member prays with the family and tells them the source of their love and heart for service. As a result of this service, many times, people have life-changing experiences with Christ.
Disaster Relief is a direct result of the giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the state missions offering. The cost for equipment, food, travel and money to help victims comes through the Edna McMillan State Missions Offering being taken in our churches during September. Sam Porter, Disaster Relief Director for Oklahoma, just emailed me that it took $1,700 just for fuel to get our big rigs to Louisiana. Your gifts to the state missions offering result in lives changed and people served through Disaster Relief.
I want to challenge you to join other Oklahoma Baptists in making a generous offering to the Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering. Your gifts will provide the ministry dollars needed for Disaster Relief and many other Oklahoma-focused ministries.