MKs, international students to receive WMU aid after tornado

 
Children of missionaries (MKs) and international students attending tornado-ravaged William Carey University in Mississippi are being assisted by a $5,000 HEART Fund grant from the national Woman's Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation. The HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) grant will be used to purchase gift cards for each of the 30 MKs as well as international students affected by the Jan. 21st tornado's devastation at the university in Hattiesburg. "My first thought after witnessing the vast destruction in my ...

Gatlinburg fire: Disaster relief volunteers urged to be patient

 
The Tennessee Baptist Convention, the Woman's Missionary Union and Southern Baptists serving in local government are among those providing aid in the wake of wildfires that killed at least 14 people in and around Gatlinburg on Nov. 28. But TBC disaster relief officials are urging those wishing to volunteer to be patient. TBC Executive Director Randy Davis wrote in a Dec. 1 open letter to Tennessee Baptists that "Tennessee Baptist Mission Board missionaries were able to get to the sites of three of ...

Fire-damaged churches in Gatlinburg: God is still with us

 
The pastors of three churches whose buildings sustained major damage in Gatlinburg, Tenn., wildfires Nov. 28 say God is at work in their congregations despite sadness and tragedy. Meanwhile, Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Director Randy Davis has called for prayer amid ongoing ministry efforts by Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief workers. Some 15,000 acres in and around the resort area of Gatlinburg have burned thus far, with four deaths reported and "hundreds of structures and homes" destroyed, Knoxville's WBIR TV reported. Larry Burcham, ...

'Heartbroken': Tennessee fires destroy homes, churches

 
Wildfires in and around the east Tennessee resort area of Gatlinburg have destroyed the facilities of at least one Southern Baptist church, claimed buildings at two other churches and prompted local believers to launch relief ministries. The reported 14 blazes near Gatlinburg Nov. 29 were among a series of wildfires across the Southeast this fall that have led Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units to deploy in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. In Gatlinburg, about 100 homes have been damaged or destroyed and 14,000 people ...

Volunteers needed in North Carolina for hurricane recovery

 
Disaster relief volunteers are urgently needed to help North Carolina residents recover from flooding damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew, said Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptist Men. "Teams are needed to help individuals and families remove the wet furniture, floors, walls and other items as needed. We will need many recovery volunteers for many months to come," Brunson said Oct. 24. "Thousands of homes and many thousands of people were affected by Hurricane Matthew and we need volunteers to ...

Amid fallen trees & debris, Baptist teams bring help & hope

 
Though tragedy has been a recurrent theme in Holocaust survivor Margaret Oettinger's life, so has hope. When a large tree fell on her property during Hurricane Matthew's destruction, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, including Florida Baptist chainsaw teams, were there to provide help and hope. As volunteers cut away the tree, Oettinger became one of many helped by SBDR teams in recent days. And the teams didn't just come bearing chainsaws. They came with prayer as well. "We worked in ...

Several states helping North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew

 
North Carolina continues to reel from the damage and flooding left by Hurricane Matthew. As rising rivers have yet to crest in many areas, North Carolina Baptists are responding where they can and as quickly as conditions will allow, a state Baptist disaster relief leader reported Monday. A team of North Carolina Baptists on Mission serves its first meal Monday at Cedar Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville. Electrical power is coming from the kitchen trailer’s on-board generator. A ...

North Jacksonville Baptist Church ministers after Hurricane Matthew

 
Chris Coram watched as the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief trucks rolled into the North Jacksonville Baptist Church parking lot in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday night. “It was quite humbling to see the big disaster relief trucks here to help my city,” said Coram, who serves as associate pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church. “And it is an honor to assist the volunteers and teams with KBDR by hosting them at our church. It is amazing how hearing the ...

Hurricane-hit Haiti relies on Florida Baptists for initial response

 
At least 1,000 people have died, with many already being buried in mass graves, following the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti during the first week of this month. And cholera, a killer disease contracted through contaminated water, is beginning to spread quickly, according to numerous national news sources. Some 1.4 million people in Haiti need humanitarian assistance, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. Just six years after an earthquake brought this impoverished country to its knees, ...

Disaster relief volunteers reveal ‘heartbeat of Southern Baptists’

 
Two days after Hurricane Matthew hit the Anastasia Island community in St. Augustine, Fla., Walter West gathered his flock to learn of damages suffered by church members and the community alike. Although a tree tore through the church’s office building, West, pastor of Anastasia Baptist Church, said destruction to the church was minimal. “However, a lot of church members had flood damage, tree damage and their entire belongings ruined by the flooding.” Residents along the barrier ...

Mobile kitchens deployed to North and Central Florida

 
Florida Baptist Disaster Relief is mobilizing three mass feeding mobile kitchens to meet needs of residents in Central and North Florida in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. According to Delton Beall, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief director, “The scope of impact of this disaster and the destructive swatch it cut up the east coast will require multiple feeding sites to meet the needs of those affected by the storm.” Florida’s mobile kitchens are being dispatched Saturday ...

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief stages as hurricane slams state

 
With Florida Gov. Rick Scott warning Hurricane Matthew "will kill you, time is running out," an estimated 1.5 million people evacuated Florida's Atlantic coast communities as the storm skirted the shore today (Oct. 7). "The scope of impact goes from Port St. Lucie north to the Georgia line," said Delton Beall, Florida Baptists' director of disaster relief. Florida Baptist Disaster Relief is working with the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and other partners to meet feeding, cleanup and recovery and other ...

Hurricane Matthew: Cuba is Baptist Global Response's focus

 
Though media reports of Hurricane Matthew's devastation in the Caribbean have tended to spotlight Haiti, the Southern Baptist humanitarian organization Baptist Global Response plans to focus its relief efforts on Cuba, where the damage reportedly is "massive" and humanitarian aid more sparse. Eastern Cuba seems to have "received a lot more infrastructure damage" than Haiti, BGR executive director Jeff Palmer told Baptist Press. "They were hit a little bit harder. ... We don't know exactly how much loss of life has ...

SBDR leaders prepare for Hurricane Matthew response

 
As the first light rains from the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew passed over South Florida Wednesday, Oct. 5, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders were planning their response to the potentially devastating storm. Computer models give a high probability of a Category 4 hurricane with a massive storm surge making landfall late Thursday or early Friday somewhere near Palm Beach on Florida's east coast. SBDR state leaders in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, along with national leaders at the North American Mission ...

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief preparing to respond to Matthew

 
Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are making preparations to respond to the potential impact and damage caused by Hurricane Matthew’s march along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Forecasters expect the Category 3 hurricane to strengthen as it moves northward from the Bahamas with potential landfall from North Miami to Jacksonville Thursday night. This will be the first time a major storm has made a direct hit in Florida in more than a decade, when Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005. On ...

Haiti, Cuba lashed by Hurricane Matthew

 
Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in Haiti and Cuba Oct. 4, destroying homes, fields and businesses and driving thousands from their homes in a part of the Caribbean where many people already struggle day by day just to survive. Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist humanitarian organization, is monitoring the situation in both countries to determine what response might be most appropriate and effective. In Haiti, "multiple organizations already were on the ground in the country before the storm struck, and they ...

Bronze Star, Purple Heart restored by California Baptist disaster relief

 
A charred Bronze Star and Purple Heart were somewhere in the ashes after a wildfire destroyed Bill Cronkrite's house and outbuildings—medals awarded to his son who was killed in Iraq in 2004. When a California Southern Baptist assessment team visited the site after this summer's 7,609-acre Border Fire, the medals of the late Army Sgt. Brud Joseph Cronkrite became a priority. "[Bill Cronkrite] told me he would love to have his son's Bronze Star and Purple Heart that were ...

Send Relief: Louisiana Flood to enlist Baptists nationwide

 
The North American Mission Board is facilitating a recovery effort to help Louisiana flood survivors rebuild and to assist churches and individuals who want to serve. The initiative, under NAMB's Send Relief ministry, will begin Oct. 1 and enlist Baptists nationwide. "We're developing a recovery plan to help Louisiana residents, pastors, churches and other buildings damaged by extreme flooding," said Mickey Caison, NAMB's Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) executive director. "The Send Relief plan includes a facility to house 300 volunteers as ...

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers respond after Hermine

 
When weather forecasters predicted Hurricane Hermine would bring a tidal surge of about 3 feet from the Gulf of Mexico’s churning waters, Pastor Alan Ritter thought First Baptist Church of Homosassa would be safe from damage. But when late-breaking news about the storm suggested a 7-foot tidal surge would hit the community located on the Homosassa River, the pastor faced the worst with little time for preparation.  Now the Homosassa church and at least three other Florida Baptist ...

Student from FBC Brandon aiding Louisiana flood survivors

 
In the end, the answer was simple. Muddy water lapped against his waist as he struggled to heave his black Labrador retriever Rascal into his kayak. Then, he paddled away from everything he and his family owned in Denham Springs, La., near Baton Rouge, knowing they would never see most of it again. His parents, Darrell and Zanie Whitehead, were in Tuscaloosa, Ala., trying to get home. They talked by phone several times as the situation worsened. "I called the ...

Disaster relief volunteer dies while serving in Louisiana

 
Working as part of his church's disaster relief team, Sonny Ellis died while doing what he did best -- serving people. "He was showing the people of Denham Springs, La., an example of what Jesus would do," said Roy Hill, pastor of First Baptist Church in Satsuma, Ala. On Sept. 1, Ellis had just placed a load of laundry in a washing machine with his church's disaster relief laundry unit, which was in operation helping flood survivors of the historic flooding ...

LifeWay meeting physical, spiritual needs in flood-ravaged Louisiana

 
As Louisiana recovers from historic flooding, LifeWay Christian Resources wants to help churches, pastors and other victims. Part of the effort includes restoring Bible study material and pastoral libraries lost in the floodwaters. "LifeWay provides biblical solutions for life," said Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. "We want to support these pastors and churches during the good times, but even more during the difficult times. Replacing some of what was lost is a way for LifeWay to ...

Katrina-like disaster relief deployment continues in Louisiana

 
A church van apparently caused a stir in one flood-ravaged town in south Louisiana. A 12-person team traveled to hard-hit Denham Springs on Saturday, Aug. 20. The disaster relief volunteers—from Longview Baptist Church in Deville, 120 miles to the northwest—were only able to mud-out a couple of houses. The next week, however, Longview's phone lit up. "[O]ther people in the neighborhood saw our van, wrote down the name of our church, Googled it to get our number ...

Baptist volunteers in Louisiana witness power of community

 
Jerry Ritter's Tuesday began at 4 a.m., but he was still brimming with enthusiasm as the sun slipped low, closing another day of flood relief in Baton Rouge, La. Ritter, a member of Blackgum First Baptist Church in Vian, Okla., arrived in Louisiana last week with other members of a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) kitchen crew. Though his body was tired, he considered the hard day's work to be a blessing. He gazed across the parking lot of Istrouma ...

Chaplains relay 'glimpses of hope' amid Louisiana flood crisis

 
The catastrophic flooding in south Louisiana is quite different for Southern Baptist chaplains in the National Guard than anything they have seen before and, at the same time, all too familiar. Brigade Chaplain Page Brooks, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary faculty member serving with Louisiana's 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said even though record rainfall and flooding didn't come from a named storm, the devastation is much the same. "This reminds me of other natural disasters, the sense of ...

Southern Baptists continue to aid Louisiana flood survivors

 
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers continue flood recovery efforts across south Louisiana, coping with intermittent rain as they tear out insulation, sweep mud from houses and carry buckets of sodden clothing to curbs. Few areas were left unscathed last week when nearly 7 trillion gallons of rain fell, killing 13 people and damaging more than 60,000 homes in 20 parishes. State officials estimate the damages will exceed $20 billion, making the 500-year flood event one of the worst disasters to strike the United States since ...

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief called out to flood-weary Louisiana

 
In the wake of the second wave of historic flooding to hit Louisiana in the past six months, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers will be deployed Tuesday, Aug. 23, to help flood-weary families recover from the early August disaster. At the request of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Florida DR team will stage an Incident Command Operation at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, one of seven centers expected to be established across the state. “Flooding has devastated much ...

Louisiana flood relief to extend 'as far as the eye can see'

 
Aboard a Black Hawk helicopter rescuing flood victims in south Louisiana, Staff Sgt. Chad McCann saw "water to the roofs of homes as far as you can see," with the Amite River still rising, "methodically washing away foundations, structures and trees." "It is way worse … more widespread" than even Hurricane Katrina, said McCann, a member of Union Baptist Church in Deville, La., who made 80 airlift rescues after Katrina's 2005 onslaught. [T]hese people live in areas that have never flooded &...

Southern Baptists deploying 4 kitchens to south Louisiana

 
The death toll in south Louisiana's unprecedented flooding has risen to 11, and at least 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. In response, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is deploying volunteers, equipment and resources to the affected area, including four kitchens in Baton Rouge, Hammond, Lafayette and Walker. The American Red Cross has requested four kitchens that each have capacity of 10,000 meals per day. All four DR teams deploying have twice that capacity. Additional support is expected given the scope of ...

Jacksonville professional serves Christ through disaster relief

 
Micah Roden was beginning a well-deserved vacation from his job as manager of a Jacksonville Beach retail store when he learned Florida Baptists’ disaster relief volunteers were being deployed to flood-ravaged South Carolina in 2015. Serving as a trained emergency resource team volunteer, the young father of three quickly sacrificed his vacation plans to be the hands and feet of Christ to the survivors. Several months later another callout was issued, and once again Roden forfeited his own scheduled vacation ...

Amid Louisiana flooding, churches use social media to convey hope

 
Sermons by social media became a means of disaster response Aug. 14 amid record rainfall and flooding across south Louisiana. David Denton, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in New Iberia, used Facebook to speak to church members after Sunday services were cancelled. "Help with cleanup, and exercise caution in doing so," Denton told church members, according to the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. "Feed people who are hungry. Get involved wherever you can and by all means share ...

Baptist College of Florida establishes disaster relief unit

 
For more than five years, students at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville have had the opportunity to train and respond to disaster events as part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. This summer, BCF established a fully functional disaster relief unit and through the generous donations of churches and individuals the team was outfitted with a new disaster relief response trailer. According to BCF Associate Professor of Leadership and Christian Education David Coggins, the ...

Florida Baptists among those serving W.Va. flood survivors

 
Three weeks after historic flooding in West Virginia, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers continue to serve survivors as they begin the long process of recovery. Southern Baptists are serving in the Charleston, W.Va., area in Kanawha County along the Elk River. SBDR volunteers, including members from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV), manned one of three feeding kitchens in the state. Heritage Baptist Church in Elkview hosted one kitchen that had prepared more than 63,000 meals as of ...

Florida disaster relief volunteers shine light of Christ in flood-ravaged West Virginia

 
The elderly woman was still grieving the death of her husband when torrential rains June 23 flooded her West Virginia home. Consumed by her own sorrow and resentment, she was unable to respond to the devastation within her own house. When Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers arrived there a week after the historic flood, the widow appeared distrustful and bitter, volunteers reported. But as the team pulled out muddy carpet and unsalvageable furniture, disinfected contents and cut away moldy sheetrock, they ...

Florida Baptists among those responding to West Virginia flooding

 
Heavy rains on June 23 brought historic flooding to West Virginia, claiming at least 24 lives and 100 homes. Search and rescue continued on Sunday (June 26), where state and federal officials declared disaster areas. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders and volunteers have been working in the wake of the storm to aid survivors and comfort those facing the loss of family and loved ones. Several state SBDR units were mobilized Saturday (June 25). “The strength of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is our ...

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief receives national award

 
When devastating floods hit the Houston area in April, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers did what they normally do in the face of crisis. They responded. Those efforts were recognized May 20 when several disaster relief teams were acknowledged during this year's National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD or VOAD) conference in Minneapolis. The organization presented SBDR with its National Member of the Year award. "I am honored that the North American Mission Board allows me to serve this ...

Compassion rises with water levels to help Houston

 
A flash flood on April 18 swamped Houston when as much as one foot of rain fell on the nation's fourth-largest city, claiming seven lives and making it the wettest day there since 1888. Most of the victims died in their cars while trying to traverse flooded roads. An estimated 1,200 Houstonians required rescue assistance. The city finally caught a break on Friday, April 22, their first dry day since the initial downpour, though rain returned on Sunday along with tornado warnings. Citizens reported ...

Baptist disaster relief reaches toward the nations

 
The shantytowns of Cape Town, South Africa, could be among the initial disaster relief deployments for the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. In a partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Convention facilitated by the Baptist Global Response humanitarian organization, the Baptist union's disaster relief ministry is in the early stages of development, according to reports by the KBC Kentucky Today news site and KBC Western Recorder newsjournal. South Africa is among several countries where Baptist state convention disaster relief leaders have ...

Florida Baptists among Disaster Relief volunteers serving in Louisiana

 
When flood victim Lynell Davis walked into the Southern Baptist Incident Command Center at Woodlawn Park Baptist Church, longtime Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Marlene Thompson could see that he was distraught. "He looked like he hadn't slept in days," said Thompson of Colyell, La. "He sat down and was shaking, said he hadn't had food." The volunteers at Woodlawn Park in Hammond, La., provided Davis with food, and then began the process of completing forms for disaster relief team ...

Torrential Gulf Coast rains challenge disaster-relief efforts

 
  Storm waters have damaged an estimated 5,000 homes in Louisiana alone in about 28 parishes, and that number likely will rise. As water recedes in one town and recovery begins, it's likely cresting in another. Some of the state's bigger rivers have yet to crest. "This flood was not a respecter of any one place or people," said David Abernathy, the Louisiana Baptist Convention's disaster-relief incident commander. "This thing hit everybody. Rivers and lakes are cresting at records never seen before." ...

Chainsaw cross conveys hope after tornado onslaught in Texas

 
Three weeks after Shane Pruitt was a guest preacher at Bellville First Baptist near Houston, one of its disaster relief teams assisted Pruitt's family in the wake of devastating tornadoes that swept through the metro Dallas area the day after Christmas. Pruitt, who serves as director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, recounted that he was en route to a preaching engagement when his wife called to tell him that tornado sirens were going off in their ...

Holiday storms draw Southern Baptist volunteers to 8 states

 
Deadly storm systems slashed across the nation during the holidays, killing scores and bringing rapid response from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. In Texas, eight people were killed and more than 800 dwellings were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes that struck the day after Christmas in Dallas. The rain accompanying the storm systems has the Mississippi River and its tributaries at flood stage. North American Mission Board SBDR Interim Executive Director Mickey Caison described the response as all too reminiscent of ...