We take weather seriously in our state. Alabama has always been known as part of “tornado alley.” We are also a coastal state. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico are annual concerns for us.
Following the devastating tornadoes that struck Alabama in 2011, Alabama Baptists wisely saw the need to launch an annual state disaster relief offering to help ensure that funds would be available year-round to assist disaster victims. Prior to that time, it wasn’t unusual for a major hurricane or a tornado strike to empty our reserves completely.
The Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Offering was approved by messengers to the 2011 meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in Mobile, and Alabama Baptists have generously supported the offering in April 2012 and 2013. Since then, we’ve noticed the benefit of moving that offering earlier in the year, to try to stay ahead of the worst of the bad weather.
With that in mind, this year February is being promoted as Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Preparedness Month. Of course, disasters know no season, but this month-long emphasis will allow churches to have the flexibility to focus on disaster relief ministry in a variety of ways.
It would be a good time for individuals, families and churches to make sure that they have necessary resources on hand in the event of a disaster and to take time to pray for Alabama’s disaster relief ministry. It also gives every church the opportunity to choose a Sunday in February to take up a disaster relief offering.
The 2014 offering goal is $200,000. Money collected will help purchase much-needed equipment and provide affected churches and individuals with assistance. Alabama Baptists have been generous in the past during weather-related disasters which come our way. The offering is a way for us to stay prepared for such events.
At www.sbdr.org/beprepared, you’ll find several downloadable resources, including a church preparedness plan, a family preparedness plan and a video to help you promote the disaster relief offering. Posters, offering envelopes, bulletin inserts and other promotional materials are also available.
Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, under the capable leadership of State Missionary Mel Johnson, is a pacesetter in Southern Baptist Convention life and boasts an army of 7,000 trained volunteers ready and willing to serve in the aftermath of a disaster. It is my prayer that Alabama Baptists will take advantage of this month-long opportunity to prepare ourselves and our churches to not only weather the next disaster, but also to respond to its victims with Christ-like care and compassion.