JEFFERSON CITY – Gaylon Moss, MBC Disaster Relief (DR) director, says the ministry that hundreds of Missouri Baptists do in DR ministry is beneficial for the survivors of disasters, but it is also a great ministry platform for churches to engage in missions with great results for the church as well.
Moss said many churches are willing to be involved in Disaster Relief in several ways. They pray for the workers as they are responding to the disasters. They give financially and they support the workers. And many volunteers are trained and go regularly on DR callouts.
But how does DR give back to those churches?
He puts it like this: Churches can help DR ministry by 1) praying, 2) giving and 3) going. In return DR ministry helps churches by: 1) leading, 2) discipling and 3) sending.
Moss spoke to an association meeting at Rehoboth Baptist Church, Kirksville, on April 22, and he fleshed out the concepts he and other DR leaders have been developing.
“Many of the key conferences and events in Baptist life are gathering events where pastors and leaders are coming to hear something. We are wanting to offer something to the people in our state that are ‘doers’ and ‘goers.” Our leaders are asking ‘What can we offer that would speak to leadership?”
So they have developed these pairs of “benefits” for DR and for churches.
“Churches and associations are looking for a place to train and develop leaders,” he said.
“A disaster response provides a place to do that and an environment for leadership development,” he added.
When on a disaster, there are opportunities for people to share their faith with disaster survivors and to just be “life on life” encouragers as they help people.
And Moss said DR responses are “a ready made mission trip for a church.” With just a little investment in training, volunteers can go to a place to serve and much of the logistics of travel, food, lodging and support are already in place.
He pointed to an example at First Baptist Church, Eldorado Springs, where Pastor Ron Marsh has been leading his church to be involved in DR ministry pretty regularly.
Marsh said he has about 16 volunteers trained and ready to go when needed. About four of them go pretty frequently. Several of them are retired people who are young enough and physically able to respond on quick notice. And Marsh says the church is supportive of the efforts and they provide funds for a DR trailer to be outfitted, gas for the trips, motels as needed when traveling and they pray for the volunteers.
He has watched as some of his people have risen to the challenge and have become better leaders as a result of their missional involvement.
“We have a man named Phil Palmer who retired from the 3-M corporation and went on a trip with us. He had not been involved in mission trips before. He was mostly a church attender. But he has blossomed as a DR leader and now he goes on every DR opportunity available,” Marsh said.
He said “Another volunteer, Warren Wisner, has become our “Blue Hat” (supervisor) of our unit. He went to Houston, Texas with us to help with flood relief.” On the return trip the pastor discussed some further opportunities to go to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief. Wisner was reluctant at first, but the more they talked about it, the more excited he became. Now he leads the groups as they go.
Brandon Kiesling is the associate pastor for gospel proclamation at First Baptist of O’Fallon. He has found that DR ministry helps meet needs but introduces people the answer to their greatest need, that of Jesus Christ.
“We responded to a hurricane call-out in Georgia some time back,” he said. “The church, Iron City Baptist, in Iron City, Georgia, was right in the eye of the hurricane.” Their members took to the streets to help meet needs and they kind of neglected their own building damage. “We were able to go down and help them patch leaks and do some repairing of ceilings.”
He said he resonates with Moss’ philosophy that DR builds leaders. “We have a man named Jeff Herndon, who has recently become one of our DR leaders. He has experience in the construction industry and has led teams for us now.”
Kiesling says FBC O’Fallon loves DR ministry and they like the structure it provides for quick and fairly easy mission trips.
Moss encourages Missouri Baptists who are interested in getting involved in DR ministry to check out their website and make contact: www.mobaptist.org/dr.