By Joe Conway
BOULDER, Colo. – Travis Kunckel had no idea his selection of a temporary base of operation for his consulting business would lead to the proprietor’s spiritual transformation. The same is true Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers who played a role in her baptism. Throw in a local congregation focused on serving the community and Donna Gail is the newest member of East Boulder Baptist Church.
When Kunckel, a Texas business consultant, contracted for an extended time in Colorado working with multiple clients, he looked for a central lodging location that would afford him flexibility in travel with the benefits of a mountain retreat. He settled on Gail’s Patience Clearing Bed & Breakfast in Lefthand Canyon.
Soon Gail noticed Kunckel used his spare time at the inn for Bible study. Intrigued, Donna asked questions. Travis gave gospel conversation answers. “Finally the reality of Christ was so clear to me and I stopped resisting Him,” said Donna.
After sharing the gospel, Kunckel continued to disciple Gail on his visits. He gave her a Bible and his wife, Denise, sent Bible studies and other gifts.
In the meantime, God used Baptist Relief volunteers to minister to Gail as well. She was one of the survivors of the 2013 floods that wiped out much of the nearby village of Jamestown and devastated Lefthand Canyon. SBDR volunteers, hosted by East Boulder Baptist Church, worked to bring help, healing and hope to survivors in the area. East Boulder senior pastor Larry Dramann escorted SBDR assessors to locate ministry sites, but they were unable to travel up the canyon road to rescue Gail. That would take a U.S. Army helicopter.
Gail and Dramann never met, but she began to encounter SBDR volunteers. First she saw volunteers helping her friends in Jamestown. Then she encountered two SBDR volunteers at a FEMA location where she applied for aid. They prayed with her and gave her a Bible.
“It was the most uplifting prayer and they were so gracious,” said Gail. “And just like all the volunteers I met, before I can even say thank you they are always thanking me for the opportunity to serve. Everywhere I went people would ask me, ‘Have you heard about the Baptists?’”
By December Gail was determined to find a way to say thank you. So she picked a local church, East Boulder, and attended worship, not knowing the church had served as a command center for SBDR. In fact, the day of her visit, the church thanked volunteers who were leaving to return home.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Gail, who cried through most of the service.
“When Donna came up and introduced herself, I said, ‘You’re the one we were looking for but could not get to,’” said Dramann. “I saw her knees buckle, she was so overwhelmed by God’s grace.”
Dramann, who has pastored the church 13 years, served with the International Mission Board for 15 years in southern Africa. He and his son visited Gail and asked about her spiritual journey.
“When it became apparent that she had a genuine relationship with Christ, I asked her, ‘Would you want to be baptized?’ She said, ‘Could I?’ And when she told me about Travis and Denise and their impact on her life I asked if I could give them a call. They said they would come to the baptism.”
On July 20 Dramann baptized Donna. Travis and his family were by her side.
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.