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By Joe Conway
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Within
hours of the deadly EF5 tornado striking Moore, Okla., on Monday, Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief chaplains were ministering to families at both
elementary schools in the community destroyed by the storm. Baptist General
Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter said response needs
will continue for weeks.
“Paul Bettis is leading our
chaplain team,” said Porter. “They were on the ground at the schools with the
families as they were searching for their children. Paul was involved in
several official notification visits, as well.”
Porter said security in the
affected area remains tight, but feeding and laundry units are already serving.
As of lunch on Wednesday, Oklahoma SBDR volunteers had already prepared more
than 9,100 meals and made 269 ministry contacts. Oklahoma SBDR has 105
“We will need clean up
assistance for four to five weeks at a minimum,” said Porter. “Because of the
nature of the storms there will not be a lot of chainsaw work, but the debris
clean up will be big.”
The series of storms that
moved through the area Sunday and Monday left a 70-mile-long track of EF4 and
EF5 tornado damage, Porter said. SBDR crews from Texas Baptist Men were already
in Shawnee in response to the EF4 tornado that struck the Oklahoma City suburb
Fritz Wilson, executive
director for Disaster Relief at the North American Mission Board said a multi-state
response is expected in support of Oklahoma SBDR efforts. Wilson said he
expects to see crews working in the affected areas Friday or Saturday.
“Our prayers are certainly
with the people of Moore, and all of the affected areas,” said NAMB president Kevin
Ezell. “Oklahoma Baptists have one of the best disaster relief
teams in North America.”
Wilson asked Southern
Baptists to continue to pray for survivors and volunteers, and to give to the
efforts to help sustain the ministry. He also asked Southern Baptists to
remember the SBDR volunteers and the survivors they are serving in other parts
of Oklahoma, in Texas and in Missouri, all as a result of the two days of
storms, May 19 and 20.
“The prayers, support and
concern of Southern Baptists has been overwhelming,” said Porter. “Don’t stop
“The heart of Southern
Baptists comes through in ministry like this,” said Wilson. “Oklahoma Baptists
went into action immediately following the storm.”
First Baptist Church, Moore
is hosting an Oklahoma SBDR feeding kitchen. The church, which also served as a
ministry center in response to the 1999 storm that struck Moore, will host a
NAMB mobile command center.
Wilson said the multi-state
nature of the response exemplifies the critical nature of the partnership among
Baptist state conventions and NAMB in disaster relief.
NAMB 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 programs.
Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained
volunteers—including chaplains—and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw,
mud-out, command, communication, childcare, 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.
To donate to SBDR efforts,
contact the Baptist convention in your state or visit namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB
(6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.
Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission
Date Created: 5/22/2013 4:14:23 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC