MARIANNA–After Hurricane Ida slammed into the U.S. mainland, leaving devastation in its wake from Louisiana to the Northeast–Florida Baptists are coming right alongside the hurting and rebuilding the only way they know how—as the hands and feet of Jesus.
The Florida Baptist Disaster Relief (FLDR) and local churches across the Sunshine State have sprung into action by going, giving, and serving those affected by one of the strongest storms to hit the mainland. While some Floridians have traveled to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, many are serving right where God has them by gathering supplies and providing hot meals to evacuees seeking refuge in northwest Florida.
Trinity Baptist Church, Marianna
When Marianna hotels filled to the brim with Hurricane Ida evacuees fleeing Louisiana, a local church jumped into action to serve a hot meal.
Trinity Baptist Church heard that as many as 250 evacuees were seeking refuge in local hotels and quickly responded. Having been on the other end of Hurricane Michael in October 2018, members of the Florida Panhandle church gathered donated chicken and delivered a hot meal, with all the fixings, to a hotel where many evacuees and families are staying for the next two weeks.
“Many of them [evacuees] left with absolutely nothing, just the cars and gas and clothes on their back, so we’re just trying to do what we can and feed those who are in need and to serve the way Jesus calls us to,” said Pastor Danny Mann.
Knowing how difficult things can get and wanting to make a lasting, gospel-impact; the church not only provided a hot meal but to also shared the lasting hope in Christ.
In days following the storm, the church continued to reach out to help survivors of Ida’s wrath.
Utilizing a box truck from the Chipola Baptist Association, Trinity partnered with other area churches to provide and deliver disaster relief supplies. The three churches, including First Baptist Church in Marianna and Eastside Baptist Church, gathered tarps, water, batteries, LED lanterns and lights, diapers and wipes.
The churches also sent a disaster relief team to Louisiana to assist with chainsaw and debris cleanup.
“The disaster relief team cut up hundreds of feet of trees, prayed with multiple homeowners, delivered much needed supplies, and tarped roofs,” said Mann.
First Baptist Church, Pensacola
Knowing first-hand what it is like to survive a major hurricane, and the aftermath, propelled First Baptist Church Pensacola to take immediate action in mobilizing their Hurricane Ida efforts.
Referencing Hurricane Sally that made landfall in their area in September 2020, Dave Snyder, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Pensacola, said the familiar feeling of desperately needing disaster relief for themselves compelled to return the favor.
“This is an opportunity for us to serve those that are going through what we went through almost a year ago,” said Snyder. “One year ago, He was on His throne and God is still on His throne today.”
Once an evacuee himself during Hurricane Katrina, Snyder invited evacuees fleeing to their community to have dinner at the church and join their Wednesday night service. By advertising at local hotels in downtown Pensacola and good old-fashioned word of mouth, over 40 evacuees came out for dinner, prayer, and words of encouragement.
The church also gave evacuees bags of food.
With disasters and the aftermath an all-too-familiar experience for Florida Baptists, mobilizing and serving those affected by Hurricane Ida has come second nature. With many Floridians’ converging on the state of Louisiana and those serving right in their own backyards – help, healing, and hope is taking place for the sole purpose of gospel-impact.