What should the first response be to a natural disaster like the floods in Louisiana this month? For many Americans, the answer may be charitable giving, support of government intervention, or sharing messages of concern on social media.
For Christians, there is no doubt about our proper role as first responders: We should pray. I would encourage all Alabama Baptists to continue praying over the long term for our fellow citizens in Louisiana. With tens of thousands of homes damaged, the crisis won’t end soon.
We should also pray for 7,000 trained Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers – “the yellow shirts” – who are available to serve as boots on the ground with a variety of critical skills in Disaster Relief ministry, including sharing the Gospel. Each such DR volunteer is a trained witness, ready to share the plan of salvation and God’s love for humanity as demonstrated through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Beyond prayer, as we look to many areas of Louisiana, floodwaters have been slow to recede with many roads impassable. I heard State Missionary Mark Wakefield share a report from one of our trained Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who was among the first deployed in Louisiana. The volunteer told Mark it took 45 minutes to drive four miles.
Indeed, we are watching and waiting for conditions to improve so that the long-term relief efforts may commence on a larger scale.
In the meantime, I would ask Alabama Baptists to pray for and offer support for:
- immediate response efforts. Thanks to Alabama Baptist gifts through the Cooperative Program, CP has provided for initial and immediate deployment of Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers, equipment and resources. CP provides the ministry infrastructure of your State Board of Missions as we strategize missionally and help deploy Disaster Relief resources in consultation with ministry partners in other state Baptist conventions and especially the Louisiana convention.
- long-term response. To quote Mark Wakefield, “For some, disaster relief is like a sprint. For us, it will be a marathon. Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists know that recovery and rebuild efforts are likely to last for 12-18 months and probably beyond.” For the long-term, even more groups of Alabama Baptists will be encouraged to go to Louisiana as ministry opportunities are identified and flooding victims see things settling down a bit and are able to begin putting their lives back together.
- monetary contribution. Please consider designated Disaster Relief gifts to assist flooding victims. All such contributions are used to help people in flood-ravaged areas of Louisiana. To give, you may go online to https://sbdr.org/louisianafloodrelief/ or send a check made payable to: Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, P.O. Box 11870, Montgomery, AL 36111-0870, for “Louisiana Flood Relief.”
Mel Johnson, who has served for the past several years as the SBOM’s Disaster Relief Strategist, encourages prayer and designated disaster relief giving as ways to “support those who are supporting others in the frontline DR efforts. The SBOM will continue to provide updates for Alabama Baptists as we receive them.”
I want to say a special word of appreciation and encourage you to pray for my counterpart, David Hankins, who serves as executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. David has been himself present and involved on the frontlines of disaster relief and recently met one of Alabama Baptists’ major Disaster Relief units as it arrived on site in Louisiana. He has expressed strong appreciation for Alabama Baptist involvement on various fronts of the relief effort.
Because of Alabama Baptist support through CP and to designated offerings, your State Board of Missions was able to send an initial contribution for frontline disaster relief in Louisiana to help flooding victims. Please prayerfully consider sending additional help to this DR effort.
Mel Johnson has pointed out rightly that “financial giving is the priority need, even more so at this point than in-kind gifts and resources. Monetary contributions allow us to provide an immediate response for families on site. Sometimes, for example, we’re able to provide residents with gift cards so they can personally acquire needs for their families. These gift cards can often be used at local merchants which not only helps individuals and families but supports the local economy with commerce. In my opinion, this is a bit more beneficial to local communities in Louisiana than us in other states purchasing resources in our own communities and then shipping them to flooded areas. Merchants there are helped in this type of effort, and so are their employees many of whom are likewise rebuilding their households and livelihoods.”
To sign up for periodic email updates on future Disaster Relief training events, future opportunities of ministry partnership in Louisiana during rebuilding and recovery, and other vital DR updates, please visit SBDR.org and sign up for email updates.
To give, please go online to https://sbdr.org/louisianafloodrelief/ or send a check payable to: Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, P.O. Box 11870, Montgomery, AL 36111-0870, for “Louisiana Flood Relief.”