NEOSHO – Aaron Werner is the new collegiate ministry leader for the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief (DR) ministry.
A resident of Neosho, Werner is also a campus missionary at Crowder College Baptist Student Union (BSU), which is affiliated with the Shoal Creek Baptist Association and MBC collegiate ministry. He and his wife, Mary, have three children: Grace, Sarah and Jacob.
Werner will continue serving the Crowder College BSU and will lead a team of student interns to do DR work for ten weeks in the summer.
He is a 1999 graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in upstate New York.
Gaylon Moss introduced Werner to DR leaders at their annual meetings at the Baptist building in December.
Werners’ tasks will be to develop student leaders through Disaster Relief ministry. Student interns work for ten weeks learning various aspects of DR work and helping across the nation as well as in Missouri (depending on where the needs are).
Werner said “the leadership development occurs one student at a time.” Each student has different needs and affinities, and they are taught tasks but also how to operate in a team environment and in an organized and structured response to a disaster situation.
He said, “A lot of the time collegiate DR interns are not the first on a disaster scene but are more involved in the recovery phase.” They go in behind the initial volunteers and help people put their lives and property back together following a flood, tornado or a hurricane.
The 10-12 interns will travel in two mini-vans and a DR truck full of equipment. They sleep in churches and often make their meals in church kitchens or with DR mobile kitchens if the disaster is larger.
Werner said flood recovery is the most common collegiate intern work although they have responded to windstorms, ash-out recovery and other natural disasters that occur.
They begin in late May with an orientation with other summer missionaries at Hannibal-LaGrange Univeristy in Hannibal. There they learn the basics of summer missions. They return to Jefferson City to the DR operations building at High Point and get trained in several areas including mass feeding, flood recovery, chain saw and child care ministries.
Werner told The Pathway, “College students are energetic and enthusiastic. They don’t need much downtime. They take in so much so quickly. They want to learn—they are like sponges.” He said interns do not have to have much previous experience in DR areas. They can be trained at the beginning of the summer. Werner said some of the students are going into fields like emergency management and they can get internship credit from their university through this program.
But he is interested in their spiritual development and their leadership training as well as them mastering the tasks of a Disaster Relief worker. “How they make decisions during the college years will stick with them a long time and impact their spiritual, physical, marriage and career decisions later. He added, “We want them to learn how to have a quiet time every day.”
His daughter, Sarah Werner, 18, went as a DR intern last summer and came back much more mature at the end of the summer.
Werner is excited for the opportunities the new role will add to his responsibilities as a campus missionary. He said he has devoted his life to ministering to college and university students, and he feels this will be a new opportunity to make disciples and develop leaders.
For more information about the MBC collegiate DR internships, check the web page at: www.mbcpathway.com/dr-internships.