By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MOUNT JULIET — Nineteen Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers will be serving in Flint, Mich., Feb. 21-28, responding to the city’s water crisis, reported Wes Jones, Tennessee Baptist DR specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
The volunteers will be installing water filters in homes and providing encouragement and prayer, he added. The project is being coordinated by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and the Flint-area emergency management office.
Meanwhile, Baptists continue to distribute bottles of water in the Flint area.
The crisis developed in the Flint area after it was found that water to homes there is contaminated with lead. The contamination has sickened children in a man-made catastrophe that has captured the nation’s attention.
The water filter project began Feb. 14 with Kentucky Baptist DR providing the manpower for a week. The second week is being led by Tennessee Baptists. The project may extend for about six months.
This disaster relief project is very unusual, admitted Jones.
“There’s not always a natural disaster to run to. This gives us another opportunity to serve.”
The water crisis has resulted in several local, state, and federal officials of the Flint area resigning since doctors revealed last year that using the Flint River for the city’s drinking water supply caused elevated levels of lead in some children’s blood, Baptist Press reported. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems.
Jones noted that a trained DR chaplain will be a part of every three-person team dispersed to homes to install a water filter, which is being provided by the government. This plan by NAMB says a lot about the emphasis of Baptist disaster relief on evangelism, he added.
Additionally, two of the 19 Tennessee volunteers will provide meals and two will provide leadership. The volunteers are trained or certified DR volunteers from all regions of Tennessee, stated Jones.
Jones explained that the Baptist DR effort is similar to what the ministry has done in several national projects recently. He referred to long-term rebuild efforts over several years following Hurricane Sandy and rebuild work still continuing following flooding in Michigan about 18 months ago.
Baptist DR has adopted this long-term work to help victims of a disaster while doing what Southern Baptists have done for years, which is “doing a good job and managing the money well,” he stated.
Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers can participate in the water filter project, which will be manned by DR volunteers from various states, by contacting Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.