Five years may seem like a long time for most Alabama Baptists unless the date happens to coincide with April 27.
Alabamians are all too aware that this date in 2011 marked our memories with images of struggles that for many are as vivid today as they were in the days, weeks and months following one of our state’s darkest hours.
A record 107 tornadoes left their mark across 42 counties on April 15 and April 27, leaving more than 23,000 homes and 47 Alabama Baptist church facilities damaged or destroyed.
Emotions remain raw as we recall weeping with families for more than 250 of our friends and loved ones who perished.
One can learn a lot in five years. Viewing life through the lens of personal experience has taught me much about the importance of statewide missions and the Great Commission spirit of Alabama Baptists.
I have learned that experience does not bind us to the past but rather lets loose a passion to touch lives at their point of greatest need.
Such was the case in 2011, and this lesson has been repeated countless times in the days leading to this five-year anniversary.
Pastors have preached the Word and led by example as church members mobilized for ministry. Associations coordinated, collected and distributed much-needed supplies for recovery.
The State Board of Missions cleared the calendar to provide a mechanism for 11 other state conventions to deploy more than 12,000 disaster relief missionaries to respond, paving the way for scores of Alabama Baptist volunteers to help rebuild communities and churches.
Though we are still healing, the hope of Christ continues to shine bright, lighting the way for future missions and ministry throughout our state.
Alabama Baptists know all too well that if we are to reach the estimated 2.5 million unreached in our state, we will have greater success by working together.
We also know that we bear complete responsibility, for no one else has been tasked to reach our Jerusalem and Judea.
I am thankful to the messengers of the 2015 Alabama Baptist State Convention who saw fit to develop and approve a means for increased missions and ministry in Alabama through the Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering.
I am grateful for how those gifts will support missions education and outreach through Alabama WMU, Disaster Relief, Church Planting, Church Revitalization and Global Missions Partnerships.
So at this significant anniversary, be encouraged. Let’s continue picking up the pieces of broken lives by providing help, healing and hope for those in crisis.
Thank you, Alabama Baptists, and always remember, you make the difference!
State Missionary Mel Johnson serves as Disaster Relief Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.