By Baptist Press
MINNEAPOLIS (BP) — When devastating floods hit Louisiana and Texas in early March and April, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers did what they normally do in the face of crisis. They responded.
Those efforts were recognized May 20 when several disaster relief teams were acknowledged during this year’s National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD or VOAD) conference in Minneapolis.
The organization presented SBDR with its National Member of the Year award.
“I am honored that the North American Mission Board allows me to serve this incredible organization,” said Mickey Caison, accepting the award. Caison serves as executive director of disaster relief for the North American Mission Board. “On behalf of the North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief network, I would like to express our gratitude to the membership of the National VOAD for this recognition of our work.”
For 46 years, more than 100 organizations like NAMB and the SBDR have cooperated through VOAD to serve people and communities impacted by natural disasters. Initiatives within each disaster relief organization, like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program (the SBC’s unified channel for funding missions and ministry), have helped bring even more aid to disaster-stricken communities during the last half-century.
“It is a privilege to bear witness to the willingness of our volunteers to provide help, healing and hope to individuals, families and communities everyday as they serve as the hands and feet of Jesus,” Caison said. “The love and compassion expressed by our volunteers’ hard work, along with emotional and spiritual care, are used by our Lord not only to assist in recovery following a disaster but also to impact eternal relationships with Him.”
The National VOAD was founded in 1970 in response to the challenges many disaster organizations experienced in 1969. Until that time, numerous governmental, private sector and nonprofit organizations served disaster survivors independently of one another. As a result, help often came to the survivors haphazardly. Unnecessary duplication efforts occurred, while at the same time, other needs went unmet.
Now, the National VOAD can depend on committed member organizations like NAMB and the SBDR network of 42 state Baptist conventions’ thousands of volunteers — including chaplains — to meet the needs for survivors of disasters.
“I am so honored to see how Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has been recognized by the National VOAD,” said David Melber, vice president of NAMB’s Send Relief network. “Such recognition speaks to the very heart of the Cooperative Program. For 50 years, members from our Southern Baptist churches have been faithful to serve people in their most desperate times for the sake of proclaiming the Gospel in word and in action. We, at the North American Mission Board, are thankful for the testimonies of churches across this nation that led us to accept this honor and recognition on their behalf,” Melber said.
For more information about SBDR and Send Relief, visit www.namb.net/SendRelief.