Over the last few years it seems that Oklahoma has faced one natural disaster after another. Tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms and floods have all impacted our state. Sadly, tornado alley has grown to include several of our neighboring states as well.
We cannot stop natural disasters, but one thing we can do is be an ever-present help for those who find themselves in the devastation left behind from a disaster. In minutes, lives are changed. One minute you are enjoying time with family in your home, and the next you are hunkered down in a storm shelter, only to emerge to find your house destroyed.
I would suggest that no one excels the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Disaster Relief Ministry in meeting the needs of those who must stand in the rubble that remains of their homes. I have never lost everything including family heirlooms and cherished pictures or had my clothes strewn across acres, but I have walked with the Disaster Relief teams as they offered physical, financial, emotional and spiritual help to those who have experienced these deep losses.
The BGCO Disaster Relief teams, who serve under the seasoned and excellent leadership of Sam Porter, never quit. As I write these words, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams are assembling in Elk City, which has just sustained severe damage. The teams will cook meals, remove debris and serve in a hundred other ways those who have lost so much. As the teams go, they will become the hands and feet of Jesus.
These teams serve without compensation. Everything Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers do, they do to serve others and to bring glory to their Savior. No job is performed without sharing the love of Christ and taking time to pray with the families. Our Disaster Relief teams want to give of themselves without reserve to assist others—above all, they want to share the love of the Savior so that all may know Him personally.
These men and women come from every walk of life. Many are retirees who have found serving through Disaster Relief an incredible way to use their skills and time in productive ways. No rocking chair for these volunteers who work from daylight till dark and beyond, just so they can make life bearable for those who are facing the trauma of so much loss.
The Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry is kind to allow me to wear one of their bright yellow shirts. I never stand taller than when I don that shirt and walk among the hurting.
The bright yellow shirt speaks for itself. This shirt speaks of love, sacrifice, service and compassion. When disaster happens, be assured those bright yellow shirts are well known, and people find great solace just to see them in their towns.
I give thanks to God for Sam Porter and his army of volunteers. These volunteers do service worthy of the Master they serve. Disaster Relief deserves our applause (which they would be embarrassed to receive) and our support. Some of you should go through the training and join their ranks. You can wear a yellow shirt and do so proudly as you serve those in such need.
All of us can support Disaster Relief’s efforts through giving. As soon as I finish writing this article, I will head to Elk City. I will have the privilege of providing checks to pastors for members in their congregations who have lost their homes.
Each check is provided to give emergency money until insurance money is made available. The money goes to the church, and the church distributes it to those in need. We only ask the pastor to present the check as a gift from their church and Oklahoma Baptists.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you as we bless those faced with disaster. You are a generous people, and I am proud to serve people on your behalf.