Tennessee Baptists continue to give aid around the state — and well beyond
By David Dawson
MOUNT JULIET — The numbers tell the story: 2021 was an extremely busy year for Tennessee Baptist disaster relief teams.
With flooding, tornados and other emergency situations occurring in rapid succession — and sometimes even overlapping — Tennessee Baptist DR personnel logged more than 34,000 work hours during the past year. The DR teams combined to serve more than 14,000 meals in 2021, and performed more than 250 chain saw jobs during one of the busiest years on record.
For Wes Jones, though, there is one statistic that stands above all the rest.
“The greatest number of all from 2021 was that we saw 48 souls who joined us as part of the family of God this past year,” said Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“I think this shows the intentionality of the volunteers to not just do the work, but also make time to do the most important thing we do which is ministry,” he said.
Jones added that the 48 professions of faith show that DR workers do so much more than repair homes and provide meals. “Our volunteers are very committed to taking the time to make sure they meet the spiritual needs of a person during the crisis,” Jones said.
Jones said disaster relief volunteers faced a demanding schedule in 2021, but said he was pleased with the response each time that a crisis developed. “Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief continued to answer the call when needed,” he said.
Jones noted that this past year was “on the very high end” in relation to the average number of emergencies this year. “Our teams (worked) at a breakneck pace,” he said. “They responded to disaster event after disaster event.”
Jones has been on the TBMB staff for more than six years, and has seen Tennessee Baptists respond to more than 100 disaster situations in that time. He noted that the TBDR personnel “has brought help, hope and healing” in each of those emergencies.
Jones noted that 2021 provided Tennessee Baptist disaster relief teams with several opportunities to explore new avenues of service. “We were able to do things we had not done before,” he said. “The deployment of the drone unit in a lost child rescue was exciting as well as the opportunity to help some families with access to their properties after it had been cut off by flooding: Teams went in and constructed new culverts or bridges as needed.”
Tennessee Baptist DR teams’ range of service in 2021 once again extended well beyond the state lines, with jobs being performed across the nation — and in other countries.
Jones said this past year also saw an increase in volunteers connecting with those in their own back yard.
“Teams are not only responding when disaster strikes but are more and more becoming involved in their local communities through service projects that meet needs where they live,” he said. “This allows more volunteers to be involved, keeps their skills sharp, as well as making a positive witness for the love of Christ in their local community.”
Jones praised the DR volunteers who worked tirelessly in 2021, and said he hopes the ranks will grow even larger this year.
“I am so grateful for our volunteers,” he said, “and I encourage those of you that may be reading this to consider if God is calling you to use your talents and abilities to serve those in need during a time of crisis as well as during times of peace.”
Jones noted that there are numerous upcoming training sessions across the state.
For more information, visit www.tndisasterrelief.org and click on the training tab. If you have questions, please call us at 615-371-7926. B&R
Where they’ve been
Where have Tennessee Baptist DR teams served in the past 12 months? The answer seems to be almost everywhere. Here’s a run-down of some of the places that DR has provided assistance:
• Chattanooga (Apartment Fire) • Cumberland Plateau (Tornado) • Granger Co. (Lost Person Drone) • Hardeman, Ky. (Tornado) • Louisiana (Hurricane Ida) • Mayfield, Ky (Tornados) • Middle, West Tenn. (Tornados) • Mountain City (Flooding) • Nashville (Flooding) • Nashville (SBC Annual Meeting) • Oklahoma (Ice Storm) • Oneida, Ky. (Flood Recovery) • Overton (Ice Storm) • Texas (Ice Storm) • Tullahoma (Tornado) • Waverly (Flooding and Rebuild) • West Tenn. (Tornados) • Local projects (Small local disasters covered by local units without outside help and local service projects done by Disaster Relief Units)
What they’ve done
How much have the Tennessee Baptist DR teams served in the past 12 months? The answer can be seen in the stats below — and in the smiling faces of those who have been assisted:
48 — Professions of Faith
182 — Gospel Presentations
3,853 — Volunteer Days
34,677 — Work Hours
14,301 — Meals Prepared
135 — Tear outs
165 — Mold Remediation
258 — Chain saw Jobs
45 — Debris Removal
2,304 — Heavy Equipment hours
23 — Temporary Roofing
1,348 — Showers
514 — Laundry loads
Where they’re headed
As the calendar moves deeper into 2022, Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers are prepared to once again spend the year aiding those who are facing dark hours. Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said he is excited to see what God has in store for this year, and said he is hopeful that 2022 will include a host of new DR volunteers.
“I encourage those of you that may be reading this to consider if God is calling you to use your talents and abilities to serve those in need during a time of crisis as well as during times of peace,” Jones said. “We have a number of trainings across the state coming up and we invite you to join us in preparing to respond.”
For information on upcoming trainings, go to www.tndisasterrelief.org and click on the training tab. If you have questions, call 615-371-7926.