Spanning over the last 50 years, Oklahoma Baptists Disaster Relief has significantly impacted the lives of thousands, as they have come to their aid in one of their greatest hours of need. Oklahoma Baptists have assisted in natural disasters, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, ice storms and blizzards.
Also, we have had significant roles after man-made disasters like the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City and the Twin Towers in New York City. Today, as this article is being written, there are teams traveling to Florida to assist in their recovery after hurricane Ian. We do this because we love God and love people, and we believe that we are to “Let our light shine before men, so they can see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven” (Matt 5:16).
Over the past 50 years we have had four directors of Disaster Relief in Oklahoma; Laddie Adams 1973-1996, Buddy Hunt 1996-1997, Sam Porter 1998-2017 and Don Williams 2017-2022. Currently, Sam Porter is serving as our interim director as we prayerfully search for the next leader.
It’s worth remembering that each of these men were visionary, pioneer leaders, but they would say that the ones who really made Oklahoma Baptists Disaster Relief great were the thousands of Oklahoma Baptists men and women who have worn the yellow shirts and served faithfully. This group helps make Disaster Relief the second largest trained disaster response group in the world. They have served on chainsaw teams, mud-out teams, shower and laundry teams, feeding teams and recovery teams.
Of course, there is one other team that is very important to all we do, chaplains. Oklahoma has trained and sent out more chaplains than any other state because we believe meeting the physical needs of a person is only half the job. The other half is their spiritual wellbeing. Over the years, hundreds of men, women and children have made first-time commitments to Christ as the result of one of the chaplains sharing the Gospel with them.
Throughout the course of a year there are several opportunities for Oklahoma Baptists to assist Oklahomans. This year alone we have served in flood recovery, tornado recovery and wildfire support. We are reliant on donations to enable us to respond to these events. Gifts to the general fund of Oklahoma Disaster Relief are all used for response purposes, and none is used for salaries. It’s worth knowing that as we served Oklahoma this year, all of the more than $400,000 were dollars that donors made to the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief fund.
Let me encourage you to attend the Oklahoma Baptists Annual Meeting and to register for the Oklahoma Baptists Disaster Relief dinner on Monday night, Nov. 14 at Mustang, First. That night, a history book about Disaster Relief will go on sale through Amazon that can be downloaded, if you would like to know more about our 50 years of ministry!
Let me also encourage you to consider attending one of our training events, so you can become involved in this life-changing ministry. Oh, and one last thing, let me encourage you to go to the Oklahoma Baptists website and make a donation to support our teams that are in Florida today!