Meeting emergency needs after a hurricane requires a host of committed, equipped volunteers serving in many roles—mass feeding, clean-up and recovery, emergency response, temporary child care, emotional and spiritual care, administrative support and logistical support.
At least 250 Florida Baptist disaster relief volunteers, representing every area of training, assisted in the month-long response after Hurricane Matthew crawled up Florida’s Central and Northeast coastline, Oct. 6-7. Many of these volunteers had responded to multiple callouts in the past 12 months–Hurricane Hermine in Florida’s Big Bend region, tornadoes in Pensacola and Century, and floods in South Carolina, West Virginia and Louisiana.
After all of these deployments, many of the volunteers are weary, but committed to the task at hand.
While cleaning out a moldy and mildewed St. Augustine home just steps away from the intracoastal’s marshlands, Danny Powell, a member of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola and Jim Bruce, a member of Fellowship Baptist Church in Tallahassee, recounted their recent DR deployments—and quickly had to be reminded where they were at that moment. Admittedly, the towns and responses roll together.
It is a nasty, dirty job, few would embrace. But these two men look past the labor intensive work to the joy they find in the midst of the storm.
“Because of the passion Christ has placed in my heart,” said Powell. “It’s a heart thing, not a head thing. You go where God leads you.”
“We’re supposed to go and help our fellow man and help our neighbors,” said Bruce. “We’re here taking care of our neighbors in St. Augustine.”
Delton Beall, FLDR director, called the volunteers, “a shining example of love in action. I have been humbled and honored to witness the labors of love as DR volunteers have traveled to West Virginia, Louisiana, and across Florida to serve selflessly and work sacrificially among the many whose lives have been uprooted by the damaging floods and hurricanes.”
Whether having served a few days or a dozen days they have brought relief and hope that made a difference, he said. “Their spirits were infectious with the love of Jesus in serving others. Because they were willing to let God work through them, many came to know the love of Jesus.”
“We’re here to bring help, hope and healing and sharing Christ in crisis,” said Tommy Lewis, a member of Canopy Roads Baptist Church in Tallahassee, while leading the cleanup crew at the Druzdis home.
Lewis told of the day before while working on another home, when a neighbor came and asked for help in removing a tree. “People ask us, ‘Why are you here?’ and we end up praying with them.” While they were praying, one woman accepted Christ as her Savior “right there on the spot. We weren’t even sent to them, but God sent them to us. She came across the street for us. It’s amazing.”
Disaster relief, Lewis said, “is a way of worshipping God, because of what Jesus did for us. This is nothing compared to what He did for us.”
As a result of Florida Baptists’ cooperative disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Matthew, seven persons received Christ and more than 245 ministry contacts were made.
by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, November 8, 2016