By Joe Conway
BOULDER, Colo. – The first day of fall brought snow to Colorado’s Front Range, and a caution to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers: ministry in the Rockies brings its own set of challenges. Estes Park, an area where SBDR leaders hope to be serving soon in response to recent flooding, received snowfall Monday.
“The peaks are white now and there was snow as we traveled to do assessments,” said Colorado Disaster Relief Director Dennis Belz. Belz reminded leaders and volunteers that freezing temperatures were coming soon and full-scale mobile operations will only be tenable through the end of October.
“We are working in Longmont, Bolder, Loveland and Greeley,” said Belz. “We hope to be opening up Estes Park and some of the other mountain areas soon. Jobs are being completed, but we have a lot of work to do, weeks of work.”
Weather was still mild, but a cold front was forecast for this week, and freezing temperatures will make mobile units vulnerable to the elements. Leaders will look to alternative ministry locations but hope to keep clean-up and mud out crews working as long as practically possible.
“We are going into some areas that have been closed to the gospel,” said Eddie Blackmon, North American Mission Board SBDR coordinator on site in Longmont. The Lord is doing some great things and is opening the doors to ministry. We need to be ready to walk through the doors.”
Volunteers from Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas Baptist Men have already responded and are serving in the four locations. Additional SBDR volunteers are on the way from Arkansas, Kentucky, Southern Baptist of Texas, Tennessee and Utah/Idaho. Additional states have committed to the response. Blackmon said trained mud out teams are still needed.
In addition to the Colorado floods and long-term rebuild in New York and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, SBDR volunteers are active in Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas in response to flooding.
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 https://donations.namb.net/dr-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 Board.