By Staff, Baptist Message
LORANGER, RUSTON – Tsunami: American Samoa; earthquake: Haiti, earthquake: Chile. These are the current international needs for disaster relief volunteers.
And over the course of the last year, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief engaged in more than 170 disaster responses – feeding, plus clean-up following floods, fires, storms, and other types of disasters.
[img_assist|nid=6132|title=Gibbie McMillan with Disaster Relief award winners|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]The details are significant: In 2009, more than 29,523 volunteer days produced 291,922 meals; completed 7,895 recovery jobs; made 12,137 ministry contacts; and recorded 661 professions of faith.
Nationwide, more than 88,000 people have completed Disaster Relief training.
In Louisiana, 4,124 volunteers are in the LBC Disaster Relief database. That’s a huge jump from pre-K – before Hurricane Katrina.
It was the tremendous needs of Louisiana residents as a result of Katrina that Louisiana Southern Baptists escalated their disaster relief presence, from 16 DR units pre-K to 74 today, said Gibbie McMillan, Disaster Relief director for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Trained DR volunteers know how to work together in such a way that they can be part of the coordinated solution, and not an additional problem, McMillan said.
Armies of volunteers in yellow shirts also help raise awareness in the community that it is God’s people who are helping, which opens doors to additional opportunities for gospel witness, McMillan added.
“Disaster Relief is the face of the Cooperative Program,” McMillan said. “It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ. He has chosen to work through people like you and like me. The key is keeping a Kingdom mindset.”
DR units in Louisiana were called out in 2009 to ice storms in Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. McMillan said the lack of hurricanes in Louisiana in 2009 enabled DR volunteers to “rest up for Haiti – and now chile.”
Two-day DR training events took place recently, at Camp Living Waters and at Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, that together involved nearly 400 people. (See related article and photos on these pages.) Friday night awards banquets highlighted both events.
At the Southern Louisiana DR Roundtable, as the event was called, the following received awards:
Cal Jones Award: Butch Bates of Ethel. (Jones was Louisiana’s first DR director.)
Freddie Arnold Lifetime Achievement Award: Larry and Karen Cupper of First Zwolle. (Arnold coordinated the massive DR efforts in New Orleans after Katrina.
DR Volunteer of the Year Award: Shorty McLemore of Oak Grove.
Special Recognitions to: Tom Long of Pearl River and Stanley Statham of Trinity Franklinton.
At the Northern Louisiana DR Roundtable, the following received awards:
Distinguished Service awards to Jerry Houston of Calvary Ruston, Chris Albritton of Calvary Ruston, and Terry Foster of Temple Ruston.
Yellow Cap award to Donald Kimble of Emmanuel Ruston.
Special LBC recognition to Ben and Sue Peterson of Florien.
“Many times people have a hard time putting a face on missions especially Disaster Relief,” McMillan said. “Everytime you look at one of these Disaster Relief volunteers being trained it seems to put another face on missions in action. We are always happy to accommodate and lead others in being trained to serve in a time of crisis.”