The scene is all too familiar in Oklahoma—the force and destruction of a tornado. Now our fellow citizens in Bethel Acres, Carney, Shawnee, and Moore must face the tragedy of homes and families lost to untamed forces of nature. In surveying the loss, we feel deeply the hurt and tears of our fellow citizens.
The people of our great state have walked this path far too often. Many of us remember the devastation of May 1999 in Moore. The May 20, 2013, EF5 tornado eclipses all of the damage and loss experienced in 1999.
The resiliency of the people of Oklahoma is remarkable. Whether in the face of one of the darkest and most evil acts in history through the Murrah bombing, or the stark reality of a powerful tornado tearing through our communities, Oklahomans rise again.
It is interesting to listen to those who lost everything. They, with few exceptions, express thanksgiving that life was not lost and that “stuff” can be replaced. As one said in Okie fashion, “This is not our first rodeo, and we will rebuild.”
The Oklahoma standard has not faded. In the face of devastation, Oklahomans open their hearts, hands, and pocketbooks to touch those in need. Long lines at collection points and too many volunteers for the jobs available are a part of that standard.
There also is an Oklahoma Baptist standard. Immediately, when the first tornado touched down, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams sprang into action. This army of more than 5,500 trained volunteers stands ready and active to meet the needs of hurting people.
BGCO chaplains have served those families whose children were in the school and were awaiting notification. The large feeding unit has been set up at Moore, First, and Disaster Relief teams will cook the meals that Red Cross and Salvation Army deliver.
This Oklahoma Baptist standard has been met through chainsaw teams, the shower trailer and a myriad of other ways. BGCO churches have opened their doors to those who find themselves homeless, and are also serving as collection points for goods needed to help people in need. Volunteers from our churches are ready to flood the area in the cleanup effort.
But the Oklahoma Baptist standard was seen in another remarkable way. We immediately publicized the ability to donate online to Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. Within 48 hours, more than $500,000 had been given. I am sure that amount will have been far exceeded by the time you receive this Messenger. Additionally, Southern Baptists from around the nation have called to offer help and indicate checks are on the way.
I can assure this, the Oklahoma Baptist standard is clear. We will give, serve, and pour out our lives to come alongside those who have lost so much. We will offer physical help, but I guarantee you we will do more. Oklahoma Baptist people will weep with those who weep, and we will extend the love of Christ in tangible ways. Our help will not be just physical, but also spiritual. We will call on a good and loving God and offer the Good News of Jesus to all.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity. Bless you and bless Oklahoma.