Missouri Baptists still helping with hurricane aid
November 1, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptist churches continue to participate in cleanup and recovery efforts primarily related to Hurricane Katrina, sending teams of disaster relief volunteer workers to the devastated shoreline areas of Louisiana and Mississippi in the month of October.
Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, trained 135 volunteers from 15 churches Sept. 6 before sending three separate teams out in September to serve for one week at a time. About 50,000 pounds of relief supplies were collected Sept. 6-10 in two donated tractor-trailer trucks in the church parking lot. Those trucks then left for Baton Rouge, La., Sept. 10.
“We had the opportunity to create relationships with evacuees through simple conversation, prayer, or providing clothing or other immediate needs they had since many didn’t have transportation to get out and secure those things for themselves,” said James Streicher, a Pleasant Valley member who writes for the communications department at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “We spent our time mingling among the 2,000 evacuees at the River Center (in Baton Rouge) offering physical relief and also ministering to their spiritual needs.”
Pleasant Valley focused on training chainsaw crews and grief counseling/hospitality crews, according to Stacey Hamby, the church’s director of communications. Additional chainsaw crews were sent out in October, she said.
Meanwhile, a dozen men and two ladies from First Baptist Church, Mountain Grove, spent Oct. 16-22 in tandem with Salem Heights Baptist Church, Laurel, Miss., helping various families in and around Bay St. Louis, Miss., including a woman named Rebecca who was glad for their ministry.
“We passed by them to speak to a neighbor whose home they were gutting out and the next thing I see is these guys coming down to my home and within 3½ hours, they had the house gutted and mud shoveled out of it,” Rebecca wrote in an e-mail. “Words cannot express how thankful I am to them and how selfless people can be.”
First Baptist Church, Piedmont, sent a 14-person team to Slidell, La., for a two-day whirlwind trip Sept. 29-30 to deliver supplies. The workers packed a 25-foot rental truck with three tons of bleach and various personal care items and clothing to be unloaded at Grace Memorial Baptist Church.
“The thing that impressed me the most was what the Cooperative Program was accomplishing when we showed up,” said Scott Cheshire, minister of music and youth at First Piedmont. “Stay the course and make it happen for the long haul, Missouri Baptists.”
Cheshire was encouraged by the presence of Southern Baptist volunteers from as far away as Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.
Various churches around Missouri continue to send offerings to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Disaster Relief Fund. Those churches include, but are not limited to: Fairview Baptist, Trenton; Hopewell Baptist, New Bloomfield; and Round Grove Baptist, Miller. More than 75 churches have adopted or are partnering with stricken churches in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Spring Garden Baptist Church, Olean, collected an offering and sent Cathie Kirkweg, who works for the MBC, to work with the Southeast Missouri Disaster Relief Kitchen Unit.
First Baptist Church, Lake St. Louis, sent eight workers to McComb, Miss., along with three SUVs full of donated items. The mission team worked with the chainsaw unit, feeding unit and chaplaincy unit.
Harmony Baptist Church, Waynesville, put together a 15-person team, equipped with a trailer load of food and $5,000 to hand out, to spend one week working with the Gulf Coast Baptist Association in Mississippi. They also tore out sheet rock and are going back for another week.
Barry County Baptist Association Director of Missions Jerry Williams, who just completed a year of service as second vice president of the MBC, reported that his association gave a total of $22,733.31 for the combined Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief effort.
Southern Baptist Convention mobile kitchens have now prepared nearly 10 million meals since Hurricane Katrina hit.