May in Oklahoma is a month marked with many memories of storms and the damage they can cause. Meteorologists and news stations encourage us to review our tornado safety plans. Each weather front is examined closely and evaluated for its potential for destruction.
The visual images of storms and their aftermath have made an impact on many of us. The sounds of tornado warnings are visceral, eliciting an increase in heart rates across tornado alley and, indeed, all of Oklahoma. You may have personal recollections of what a particular storm has done to affect your life or those of friends and family. Some storms we will never forget.
Countless prayers have been offered for those whose lives have been disrupted by wind, hail and torrents of water. Some people are intrigued by the power of the storms and stand on the front porch or in the backyard in awe of the spectacle, while their spouse calls for them to come inside to safety. Eventually the storms pass, but what they can leave behind often takes a human toll. The loss of property and, in some cases, the loss of life can be overwhelming.
At this point, the bleakest for some, in steps a team of yellow-shirted bearers of compassion. Their leader, Sam Porter, BGCO Disaster Relief director, has been keeping up with the fury of the weather, sending texts and emails, and making phone calls to line up help if needed.
The Disaster Relief volunteers have been on call, all across Oklahoma. While the weather professionals have been following the storms, the volunteers are ready to spring into action. Teams are ready to cover roofs that are leaking. Chainsaw crews are prepared to remove trees that have fallen on houses, cars and that block the way of Oklahomans.
From 2013-2015, in Oklahoma alone, 6,004 Disaster Relief volunteers served 251,073 meals. They assisted 2,190 families and helped 77 of them with no insurance to obtain a home with a storm shelter. These teams worked a total of 233,123 hours, which amounts to over $4 million of hourly labor. Through their efforts, the volunteers have saved homeowner families approximately $14 million for repairs to damaged homes. Money that homeowners would have had to contract out.
Financial savings are not the main reason these Disaster Relief workers have sacrificed holidays, vacations and time with their own families. The ministry of Disaster Relief compels them to help. Thousands of people have heard the Gospel while standing next to the remains of their homes. The question is asked over and over, “Why would you help us for free when so many want to charge us for this work?” The answer is Jesus; “Jesus would have us help you.”
In 1973, the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry was born. Disaster Relief teams have helped not only Oklahoma, but they also have served our nation and the world to help after numerous disasters. For 43 years, these teams have met and trained in borrowed facilities. We now have the opportunity to help train a new generation of Disaster Relief teams with the construction of an Oklahoma Disaster Relief Training, Equipment and Mobilization (TeaM) Center, which will house, in one convenient location, all the assets of the BGCO Disaster Relief ministry.
Imagine the ministry that another 6,000 trained members could do for the Lord’s work. As we look forward to this opportunity, I would like to visit with you regarding a lead gift and naming prospects for this exciting campaign. The Lord has used the Disaster Relief teams to minister to thousands of people. Help us reach even more lives through the building of the $3.5 million TEaM Center.
For more information about a gift for the Oklahoma Disaster Relief TEaM Center, or regarding other BGCO capital campaigns, call me at 405/516-4868, toll free, 800/690-6933, or email, [email protected].