NAPLES–As Hurricane Ian’s storm surge is receding and the winds are subsiding, First Baptist Church Naples is just getting started.
In partnership with Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief, Texas Baptist Disaster Relief, American Red Cross and Hearts With Hands, the church has been able to serve those who have been devastated by the storm’s wrath.
“We are so grateful to First Baptist Church Naples who came to our rescue the first day we were able to get back into our place, which flooded over four feet,” said Naples resident Sara Nicholle.
“They [DR and church volunteers] were there to help in any way they could. We are forever grateful to the volunteers who made the cleanup process easier and to have them pray over us and all of those affected.”
Nicholle is just one of the countless stories of hope.
With ever-increasing needs from the storm’s aftermath, more than 300 volunteers have been mobilized from the church to serve throughout the various hard-hit neighborhoods in Naples.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams and church volunteers not only are providing hot meals every weekday on campus, but also have distributed more than 2,500 boxes of nonperishable food items.
On Sunday, Oct. 2, the church even had a familiar face visit its campus to help with distribution. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis visited the church and helped distribute food and water to community residents.
Other teams help with wellness checks, disaster relief and home cleanup.
“We’re doing muck outs and even gutting entire homes,” said Kevin Taylor, missions pastor at the church.
“First Baptist Church Naples is doing excellent work through disaster relief,” said Wayne Briant, southwest regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention. “They are reaching their community and showing the care and love that the community desperately needs.”
Hearts With Hands
“Our good friends and ministry partner, Hearts With Hands, are helping us share hope and the love of Jesus in the wake of Ian,” said Taylor.
Volunteers with Hearts With Hands, a Christian humanitarian nonprofit organization in North Carolina, have been serving the hard-hit community with nonperishable food boxes, water, hygiene kits, and cleaning and baby supplies. The nonprofit has contributed more than 35,000 pounds of relief supplies, a mobile kitchen trailer and 400 bags of ice for distribution.
Focus on God
Reminded of the truth in Psalm 46, church leaders are encouraging Floridians to keep their eyes fixed on God, the source of their strength.
“When we look to God for strength in difficult times like these, we find our refuge in Him,” the church posted on social media.
“It’s overwhelming–the number of people that need help right now,” Nicholle said. “Seeing the community come together so fast and so strong for everyone in need has been beyond amazing.”
For updates on FLDR response go to facebook.com/FLBaptistDR and flbaptist.org/dr-current-response. To give financially in support of these relief efforts go to https://flbaptist.org/dr-give/. Donations of items are not needed at this time.