An Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief chainsaw team clears limbs from a fallen tree off a house in Center Point following the Jan. 25 tornado there.
Photo by Cynthia Watts

First person: Disaster Relief helps meet immediate needs

As a team of Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers worked in Center Point to clear a yard following the Jan. 25 tornado that struck the area, a 79-year-old homeowner, Jeff Schatz, spoke to his son on the phone.

“There are a bunch of bumble bees in my yard,” he said, describing the yellow hats and jackets of the chainsaw team.

Overwhelming needs

The volunteers were helping clear the downed trees from Schatz’s deeply sloped backyard — a job too big for him alone.

Many ask why people volunteer with Disaster Relief.

The needs are overwhelming, and the Scripture says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40) and “Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2).

What does ABDR do? We minister to those impacted by disasters, handing out Bibles, water, toiletries, gift cards for meals and food, sometimes taking them to the grocery store — whatever it takes to meet their immediate needs.

We get up at 4 a.m. and fix breakfast for the volunteers. We prepare three meals a day, wash the dishes and disinfect the tables. In mass feeding situations, thousands of people are fed at each meal.

We wash the clothes of volunteers, first responders and sometimes local residents and return the laundry dried and folded. We also provide showers and make sure the facilities are sanitized between uses.

We share with them. We listen to them. And sometimes we are quiet and allow them to cry.

We ask about their relationship with the Lord and pray with them. We long to lead nonbelievers to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Disaster Relief training

Birmingham Metro

Baptist Church at McAdory, 4954 Eastern Valley Rd., McCalla

  • April 15–17


Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Center, 118 Jesse Samuel Hunt Boulevard, Prattville

  • March 27 — Communications
  • March 27 — Shower and laundry

Laundry Unit

  • April 8–10 — Chaplain
  • April 9 — Cleanup and recovery


  • April 9–10 — Chainsaw
  • April 9–10 — Mass Feeding

Register and find more information at

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