By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
I couldn’t believe what I saw when I made my way down the hill and into Waverly following the flooding last August. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of several natural disasters, but the news reports didn’t capture the magnitude of the devastation that leveled that city.
You might have felt the same if you have driven through Dresden, or what’s left of Dresden, after the small West Tennessee town took a direct hit from a tornado just two weeks before Christmas.
I just grieve when I see what remains in the wake of disasters, thinking about the loss of life, the loss of livelihoods and the incalculable trauma people suffer. But I also thank God that, as Tennessee Baptists, we have a way to stand in the gap and minister to hurting people in a tangible way through Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief.
One thing I love about Tennessee Baptists is that we rally to the need. We do it time and again in our state, like after the Gatlinburg fires; across our nation, like we did following hurricanes in Louisiana, Texas and Florida; and the world, like we did in the Dominican Republic when it was hit by hurricanes. Tennessee Baptists respond, and we respond for the long haul.
That’s why I’m offering this rally cry. We need to rally to these communities and help them and their people recover and rebuild.
For instance, the news media has long since moved on from the catastrophic flooding in Waverly, but your Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief teams haven’t. They’re still there working, and will continue until the job is done. The need there is overwhelming. More than 700 homes were affected, and 300 of those had to be demolished. Approximately 320 need serious repair, and 79 of those homeowners have specifically asked for our help.
Same with Dresden. The loss of property is staggering.
Frankly, now is the time for Tennessee Baptists to come to the aid of our fellow Tennesseans. There are so many ways you can contribute.
Prayer is obviously first and foremost. Pray for those affected and God to supply their needs. Pray for workers to go, for their health and safety while in transit and onsite. Pray that through the ministry of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief that many will have their greatest spiritual need met while having their physical needs met.
Go. Practice the power of presence by rolling up your sleeves and digging in, literally in many cases. There is need for people with trade skills such as those who can:
• Replace joists
• Install new duct work
• Rewire the house
• Lay subfloor and install flooring
• Install exterior doors
• Hang and finish sheetrock
• Plumb in bathroom fixtures
This doesn’t sound like you? There is a need for those who can serve as helpers. If you are interested in being involved in any way, please call 615-371-7926 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to schedule a team.
In some instances, like Waverly, there is opportunity for onsite accommodations. Approximately 50 people can be housed at First Baptist Waverly. You’d need to bring a cot or air mattress. Disaster Relief cooks prepare breakfast and dinner for the teams. Laundry and shower units are on site. Most teams that have come arrive on Sunday evening to work the week. Others work shorter times and even just come on Saturday.
We’ve had so many folks already answer the call and I want to say thank you. You’ve made an important contribution to the lives of others and in service to the Lord.
And finally, you can give. There is always a financial need, and you can certainly be a part of that tangible need by visiting TNDisasterRelief.org and clicking the “Give Now” button.
I am thankful that Tennessee Baptists also give through the Cooperative Program and Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. Those offerings help us even have disaster relief teams to begin with. We really can do more together.
Tennessee Baptists, you are making a difference, and it is my joy to be on this journey with you. B&R