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Wash. – Patty Wetzel already knew the life-altering devastation that can come
when fire strikes her home. She remembers well the night 37 years ago—as a
young mother—when she and her family were forced to flee their burning home
while still in their pajamas. Her family lost “everything” that night.
month fear gripped her as she was given 20 minutes to leave her Twisp, Wash.,
home before the fire she could already see in the horizon reached her property.
was just pure fright,” Wetzel said. “First you pray. I said ‘God, please don’t
let this happen again.’ Then it was like, ‘Help everyone.’ It was coming so
fast, and it was so hot.”
time Wetzel’s home was spared. Despite burning a variety of spots on her
backyard—including more than a dozen trees—her home suffered little more than
month later the uninsured homeowner fretted over the burnt trees in her
backyard and their potential damage to her home should they fall. That’s when
she ran across a sign advertising “Southern Baptist Disaster
efforts in Twisp.
need relief,” Wetzel thought as she went inside to inquire exactly what kind of
relief was being offered. When she discovered that Southern Baptist volunteers
could help with tree removal, she could see God’s hand in the discovery. The
next day a team of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers from
Texas and Idaho cut down about 15 trees in her backyard for free.
was so wonderful,” Wetzel said. “I can’t say enough about [Southern Baptists].
volunteers were among approximately 145 Southern Baptists representing six
state Baptist conventions (Northwest Baptist
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Baptist General
Convention of Texas, California Southern Baptist
and the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention) who have worked together
to serve survivors of this summer’s historic Carlton Complex fire. Volunteers
are currently focused on ash-out and chainsaw work throughout the Washington
towns of Twisp, Winthrop, Malott, Brewster, Pateros, Methow and Carlton.
Carlton Complex fire has become the largest in state history, burning more than
256,000 acres of land and destroying more than 300 homes. Though the fire is
now contained, mudslides near Twisp caused by flash floods Aug. 21 complicated
the area’s relief needs. Ten homes were damaged or destroyed by the mudslides.
volunteers are working out of two locations. SBDR Incident Command has been set
up at Calvary Chapel in Twisp. The Oklahoma team is working out of Malott, Wash.
As of Sunday evening, SBDR volunteers had completed 46 of the 73 jobs they’ve
poignant ministry SBDR volunteers perform for residents impacted by fire is going
through the ash left behind and searching for valuables and irreplaceable
family heirlooms. For example, the SBDR team from California spent time
searching for lost Civil War-era jewelry and Native American artifacts lost by
homeowners they’ve served in Washington relief efforts.
you see the delight in the homeowner’s eyes when you find something they’ve
lost, it really pays for all the sacrifices [the team made to get here],” said
Stan Harrison of Journey of Faith church in Redondo Beach, Calif.
volunteers help fire survivors clean up debris and find valuables, they also
attend to the spiritual needs that inevitably spring up from a life-altering
disaster like the Carlton Complex fire.
let them know that it’s okay and God is there,” said Barbara Guidry, a veteran
SBDR volunteer from LaBelle Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas. “We
share God’s Word. We bring them Bibles. We pray with them. We ask them if they
believe in Christ and whether they’d like to accept Christ as their Savior.”
to Richard Brown, the team leader or “blue hat” for the Oklahoma team
ministering out of Malott, his team had an opportunity to lead a woman to
Christ Aug. 20 outside a local store where the team had stopped to purchase
supplies. He says the woman—who was originally from Norman, Okla.,—later committed
her life to Jesus.
hopes that the Washington homeowners served by SBDR see Jesus in the
want them to see the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Brown, a member of Grace Place Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. “That’s
the bottom line. We want people to see Jesus.”
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief
can contact the
Baptist convention in their state or
visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call
1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA
30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through
partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own
state Disaster Relief ministries.
Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile
units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care,
shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR
is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in
the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Tobin Perry writes for the
North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 8/28/2014 9:11:19 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC