MBC responds to Katrina tragedy
Historic disaster relief effort rolls on in earnest
By Allen Palmeri
September 20, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptists continue to perform at a high level of service and efficiency along the Gulf Coast as the greatest relief effort in the 171-year history of the state convention keeps on relaying many forms of assistance to the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Danny Decker, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) point man in the overall Disaster Relief emphasis, has been working in McComb, Miss., where Missouri Baptist volunteers have prepared more than 35,000 meals.
“This is the largest operation ever undertaken by the Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief Unit,” Decker said. “The state unit and the Cape Girardeau unit, which is located at Hahnville, La., (about 15 miles west of New Orleans) have worked in cooperation between the sites by sharing personnel and equipment.”
MBC President Mitch Jackson said he keeps on hearing good reports about all that is going on in the field.
“I’m proud of our Missouri Baptists, and our associations, and our camps, and the way they’ve responded to the need,” Jackson said. “Our people have come through with helping in meals, man hours and money, and I’m proud of how Missouri Baptists have responded.”
John Rhodes, coordinator for Southeast Missouri Regional Disaster Relief, said that Missouri Baptist workers at shelters in the Charleston Baptist Association and Black River Baptist Association are “working hard to find housing and jobs for the evacuees.” As of Sept. 16, there were 23 housed in the Charleston shelter and 20 in the Black River shelter, he said.
MBC Executive Director David Clippard commended the Missouri Baptist camp directors and workers who have made folks from Louisiana and Mississippi feel welcome in our state. There were 16 other Missouri Baptist camps poised to receive people, only to learn they were not needed.
“It is a wonderful thing to know that so many of our camps made themselves available,” Clippard said. “Another disaster in the future may raise itself up, and this need will become real again.”
Clippard is attempting to “find, seek out and determine the needs of our Missouri Baptist seminary students who were evacuated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.” His goal is to make them a priority for assistance, if needed. New Orleans seminary officials have yet to provide The Pathway with a comprehensive list of those Missouri seminary students, but one official did say in an email that all of the Missouri students that he knows personally are “out and doing well.” Many of the seminary’s records remain inaccessible, the official said.
Rhodes summarized the efforts of Missouri Baptists on all levels of the relief outreach by stating that what we are witnessing in September of 2005 is an amazing, ongoing display of God’s marvelous, matchless grace.
“In all my years of ministry, I have never seen such an outpouring of Christian caring,” he said. “As these displaced people enter our communities and camps, we must realize that God is putting them in our hands. We must reach them with the Gospel. This is a greater need than even food and housing.”