Several years ago, my mom and dad built a new house in a 100-year floodplain. Other relatives had built in the area, and so they were excited to be among family. No one gave a second thought to building in this neighborhood because, after all, nothing should happen for 100 years. Well, you might know that the 100-year flood struck.
I cannot even begin to describe the mess. Floodwaters rose to at least four feet in the houses. The result was the destruction of beautiful homes along with belongings that the occupants were not able to take with them during evacuation. The mud, sewage and overall devastation left behind were astonishing. The subsequent heartsickness was like that experienced during any tragedy.
Recently, as I watched the flooding that hit the Midwest and is now making its way down the full length of the Mississippi River, I could identify with the people who live there.
As you can imagine, there is much to do. Along with many Southern Baptists from other states, Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief workers and chaplains are standing by to serve on-site with several feeding units, a manned child care unit, a manned water purification unit and a laundry unit. We will send mud-out crews to help clean up the devastation left behind by the floods. Our disaster relief leaders continue to monitor the needs day-by-day and respond as needed.
No doubt, like me, you are wondering what we can do to help our fellow Americans who are in such dire straits. It is the right question, and one Oklahoma Baptists have answered time and again when great disaster strikes. Let me remind you of some opportunities for you to make a difference.
If you would be willing to join the disaster relief effort by working on a mud-out crew, please contact Mary Stephens (405/942-3000, Ext. 4336) in the BGCO Partnership Missions office. (This does require previous basic training in disaster relief.) Mary will assist you in setting a time when you can participate.
Most of us will not be able to join one of these teams, so what can we do? Give! We can make contributions to disaster relief. The dollars will be used to send teams, provide food and help victims through their local Baptist conventions, associations and churches. Churches that take an offering for use in the flood-stricken areas can send contributions marked for this purpose to the BGCO. Individuals who want to send checks directly to the BGCO should write “Disaster Relief” on the memo line and send them to BGCO Disaster Relief, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City 73112.
Countless flood victims have lost everything. They are facing many of the same kinds of after-effects experienced by residents of the Gulf Coast region. We can give them a helping hand and a hand up in the name of Jesus. I assure you that people do not expect something for nothing. In every disaster where we serve the needs of people, we find a great openness to the Gospel. We even have opportunity to start churches when we provide loving service to people in the name of Jesus.
We have an opportunity. We at the convention will do all we can to help facilitate ministry and resources that will make a difference in people’s lives.