We are in the height of hurricane season. One storm after another comes across the Atlantic and several find their way into the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Coast states are in the cross hairs time and again.
What does this have to do with Oklahoma? Well, sometimes it affects our weather by bringing heavy rain. But that is not the impact I have in mind. The hurricanes impact Oklahoma Baptists because we have one of the largest trained Disaster Relief corps in the nation. Whenever hurricanes strike the Gulf Coast, be assured Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief units will not be far behind.
Gustav was the latest to hit. By the time you read this, Ike may have made landfall. During Gustav, more than 2,000 evacuees came to Oklahoma City, and were housed in a large industrial building. Every day, they received hot meals prepared by Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief workers. Our trained child care volunteers provided activities for the youngest evacuees. Chaplains were available to counsel and encourage. The cost to the victims or the government for these services? Nothing-nada. It was all done with equipment purchased through the gifts of Oklahoma Baptists and the work performed by Oklahoma Baptist volunteers.
Immediately after the rain stopped, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief sent its large new semi-trailer unit to Baton Rouge, La. Gustav’s fury centered on that city and several miles to its east and west. Our workers set up at Florida Avenue Church and immediately started providing food and water to residents. A shower trailer was stationed there as well. Chainsaw crews began cleaning debris from homes and churches.
But that is not all of the story. Last week, a team of 10 boarded an airplane to travel to the nation of Georgia, where large areas were destroyed following the invasion by Russia. Our men will work with other SBC Disaster Relief teams to meet the needs of the people so devastated by war.
Today, Southern Baptists have the third largest disaster relief organization in the nation. Within that group, the number of trained volunteers from Oklahoma is one of the largest in the Southern Baptist Convention. Without a doubt, Disaster Relief is one of the greatest ministries to hurting people that we offer as a denomination. I could not be prouder of the men and women who give their time and resources to serve others in the name of Jesus.
Make no mistake, it is social ministry-but it is social ministry conducted with the hope and intention of sharing the Gospel of Christ. Our teams are given multiple opportunities to name the name of Jesus and share the Gospel. It is most often done within the context of people wanting to know why our volunteers would go so far and work such long hours serving others-and all without pay. The answer is simple. We love hurting people because He first loved us.
As you can imagine, the Disaster Relief budget has taken a large hit. This month, Oklahoma Baptists have the opportunity to give to the State Missions Offering. This provides $50,000 to help support disaster relief. You can have a part in this ministry as well as many others that will impact the lost population of Oklahoma with the good news of Jesus. I challenge you to join Polla and me in giving generously to the Oklahoma Baptist State Missions Offering through your church.