The twelfth annual Crisis Preparation and Sustainable Living Expo, which took place Feb. 10–11 at Little Cypress Baptist Church in Orange, Texas, drew at least 400 people from as far as Florida, Utah and Arizona.
That’s up about 100 people from its pre-COVID-19 event in 2020, when reality star Mike Lowe told attendees, “Eighty percent of the people who could survive give up as soon as it gets tough. Make up your mind beforehand that you’ll make it, rely on Jesus Christ, fight and stay alive.”
Little Cypress Baptist’s Crisis Expo might be the only preppers event hosted by a Southern Baptist church, association or state convention. Preppers are people who prepare for the possibility of a catastrophic event, whether natural or man-made.
‘Part of daily life’
“We have trained and supplied thousands of people at these free events to make sustainable living and crisis preparation a part of their daily life and experience,” pastor David Turner told The Baptist Paper. “Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana have had some difficult and expensive crises in recent years.”
He was speaking of multiple hurricanes as well as several flooding events over the last 15 years.
“This wasn’t something we just decided to do,” Turner continued. “God started raising up like-minded people, saying, ‘What should we do?’ and it grew from there. With this two-day event, we get to share the gospel along with preparedness and sustainability.”
Preparedness has to do with having an action plan to protect against the unexpected. Sustainability has to do with building a life of self-sufficiency.
Some say the what-if scenarios of widespread destruction are nothing more than fearmongering. Others who have lived through devastating hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters have learned the value of being prepared when the lights go out for days or weeks.
Some say America is too big and too spread out to ever face the invasion of a hostile army. Others point to a recent surveillance balloon that flew unobstructed across the entire nation.
The 2023 Crisis Expo included more than 20 hour-long classes. There was basic prepping, which includes having a gallon of water a day for a week on hand for each person in your home, buying a few extra canned goods each grocery trip to build a reserve stock, arranging a meet-up location away from home so the family can reconnect if separated and more.
Other classes covered forest foraging for food, wound care, raising chickens and other small livestock, canning, soap-making, safe water, wireless communication, raised-bed gardening, DIY skills and a dozen more.
In Little Cypress Baptist’s great hall — utilized Sundays as its worship center — tables were set up to showcase the wares of various vendors. Available for purchase were magnesium fire starters, portable cookers that cook to 500 degrees without electricity or propane, ham radio equipment, books, long-term storage meals and much more.
“Preparedness and sustainable living can be incorporated into your daily life in such a way as to eventually save you a great deal of money if done correctly,” Turner said. “Some of the preparations are things you can purchase. Some of the preparation is becoming a person with a knowledge and skill base to help you remain resilient.
“Some of the preparedness is from emotional and spiritual strength so a person can respond to life with wisdom instead of fear,” the pastor added.
Preparedness and sustainability are not “lone ranger” options, Turner said. Community is key: being part of a group that can work together for mutual support. Also essential are faith and trust in God.
“We must say, ‘I have turned to experts to teach me how to prepare. Now I need to turn to the Expert to prepare my soul,’” Turner said. “In John 14, Jesus says, ‘I am the way.’ He is the expert on eternal life, not only because of what He knows, but also because of what He has done and said.
“It’s His work on the cross, His rising from the dead. That’s how you get prepared spiritually. You come to Jesus Christ by faith in His works. He accomplished salvation. I can’t.”
The Crisis Expo provides hope as well as knowledge, Turner said. As participants learn new skills and acquire life-expanding information, they’re developing the ability to focus outward, develop goals and retain a sense of normalcy even as they recover from the loss of home, possessions, family members, friends and even employment.
“The opportunities for ministry after a major event are going to be astronomical,” Turner said. “The question is, how many more people can I lead to the Lord if I live another week?”
The next Crisis Preparation and Sustainable Living Expo hosted by Little Cypress Baptist Church is set for the second full weekend in February 2024.