OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are ministering to survivors after a second round of deadly storms killed 22 people in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas last weekend.
A series of tornadoes north of Oklahoma City claimed at least 18 lives Friday (May 31), just 12 days after twisters killed 24 in nearby Moore. Flash flooding from the storms killed four in Arkansas.
Sam Porter, disaster relief director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, shared a story indicative of the critical spiritual support volunteers provide in the midst of meeting physical survival needs. In this instance, a chaplain and assessor perhaps prevented a suicide while visiting two women with storm damage.
As the assessor spoke with one woman, Porter explained, her neighbor told the chaplain, "I have to tell you something. I've been so overwhelmed by all that has happened here I was going to take my life today. But now I know God cares for me and people care."
The chaplain prayed with the woman as she placed her faith in Christ, Porter said.
Fritz Wilson, executive director for disaster relief at the North American Mission Board, said volunteers will go wherever there is a need.
"Southern Baptist volunteers continue to serve people who are hurting and in need," Wilson said. "One of NAMB's core values is 'whatever it takes.' That spirit is exemplified in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. Volunteers were scheduled to go to one location and changed at a moment's notice to respond to a new area of need."
Today (June 4) marks the 17th straight day of SBDR response in the Oklahoma City area, where volunteers have completed more than 400 cleanup and recovery jobs and have at least 200 requests outstanding.
Insurance estimates show that each cleanup job saves homeowners an average of $8,000, Porter said. Friday's tornadoes in Oklahoma City never churned into the ground and could have been much more destructive, Porter said, thanking Southern Baptists for their prayers.
Assessment teams were on their way to St. Louis Monday (June 3) where storms ran a parallel track some 40 miles long, according to Missouri Baptist Convention SBDR director Dwaine Carter. Southern Baptist volunteers are en route from Kansas-Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to aid Missouri SBDR volunteers, Porter said, expressing hopes to have teams serving by June 5. Twelve days of cleanup and recovery operations had just ended in Hannibal, Mo., when Friday's storms hit the St. Louis area.
NAMB dispatched a semi-truck loaded with requested supplies to St. Louis on Sunday, primarily plastic rolled roofing, furring strips and SBDR teddy bears. Another SBDR truck from NAMB is in route to deliver 52,000 new clothing items donated by retailers, which volunteers will distribute this weekend through Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, near Moore.
New opportunities like clothing distribution allow SBDR to partner with local churches in the affected area to bring help, healing and hope in new ways, Wilson said. Read More