Relief and recovery efforts from an active tropical season have kept Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers busy from the southeastern United States to the South Pacific.
Most recently Southern Baptists have been in the midst of organizing a response to Typhoon Yutu, which overwhelmed the Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory which is part of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC).
On Oct. 24, Yutu reportedly swallowed the 67 square-mile island of Saipan, endangering the roughly 52,000 inhabitants. Saipan is the northernmost island of CNMI, roughly 3,860 miles west of Hawaii.
In the aftermath of Yutu’s destruction officials were working to clear roads and repair the airport, said Darrell McCain, disaster relief director for HPBC. Only military and humanitarian relief were allowed to fly into the island.
“The Baptist Association of Micronesia (BAM) is sending a disaster relief team to start assessing and working on [Church 360 in Saipan],” McCain said Oct. 30.
Typhoon Yutu delivered a blow to Church 360 tearing down walls and rendering some of their meeting spaces unusable. Church volunteers, however, cleaned up, and they managed to host a worship service the Sunday following the storm.
SBDR teams hope to repair the church and use it as a base of operations to serve the community, McCain said.
“Many homes are damaged or destroyed and will need lots of help,” he said. “We will do our best to go and bring help, hope and healing in Jesus’ name.”
Chris Martin, the executive director/treasurer of HPBC, expressed his thanks to Rob Puckett, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Guam, and to the churches that make up BAM for their quick response. Puckett serves as BAM’s disaster relief coordinator.
“Please join us in fervent prayer and generous response to the churches and community in Saipan,” Martin said.
SBDR volunteers also continue their work in the Southeast in response to Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
In early November, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) volunteers were serving in Marianna, Florida, as part of a feeding team. ABDR volunteer Charlotte Crane assisted with a team from Five Points Baptist Church, Northport. She said the team stayed busy.
“The needs are tremendous down here and the people are so grateful for the help,” Crane wrote in a Facebook post Nov. 1. “You will be blessed by serving!”
Sam Porter, national director for disaster relief at the North American Mission Board, said he expects Southern Baptist feeding units to be in place at some sites in Florida at least through Thanksgiving.
“We have hundreds of volunteers who are still helping people clean up storm damage, and we will still need hundreds more to volunteer months from now,” Porter said. “The damage from these hurricanes has been that extensive.”
In response to Hurricane Michael SBDR has surpassed the 700,000 mark in meals provided. Southern Baptist volunteers have also cleared more than 1,300 homes and yards of downed trees and other storm debris.
Helping the Carolinas
In North and South Carolina, SBDR volunteers provided more than 1.1 million meals, cleared nearly 1,200 homes and performed flood clean-up for more than 600 homes following Hurricane Florence.
So far Southern Baptists have presented the gospel more than 2,100 times through disaster relief work and reported 224 professions of faith. (BP, TAB)
For more information on how you can help, go to www.SBDR.org.
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