After a windstorm toppled trees and scattered limbs and other debris around the area earlier this year, the Christian County Baptist Association learned there are many ways to partner with and benefit from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts.
Some 15 years ago, the Kentucky association had an active DR ministry, championed by DR volunteer Tom Westerfield.
Under his leadership, the association even owned and maintained DR equipment, including a DR shower trailer and child care trailer. But, when Westerfield died in a tragic accident over a decade ago, the ministry began to wane.
Related: Learn more about how associations can better partner with Disaster Relief efforts.
When Associational Mission Strategist John Franklin began his ministry in the area roughly two years ago, the association practically had no DR ministry.
“When I got here, we had all this equipment that was unused — like the child care trailer, a dual axel with flat tires, because they dry-rotted over time. … Effectively, we had no DR ministry, and there was no personnel, volunteer base to speak of.”
Franklin quickly decided they needed to make their ministry viable again, or else get rid of the DR trailers and equipment.
Then, after a windstorm toppled trees and left debris throughout the area, Franklin asked if Kentucky Baptist DR could help.
In June, three dozen DR volunteers arrived in the community, ready with chainsaws and skid steers to cut and remove fallen trees.
Franklin noted many of the people who needed help lived in lower-income, predominantly black neighborhoods. As such, DR teams were able to help bridge economic and racial divisions in the area.
DR ministry efforts not only helped the community, but also opened Franklin’s eyes to the way that associations can partner with DR, even if they don’t have an active associational DR team.
“Associations have a wonderful opportunity, with any natural disaster, to mobilize DR into their area,” Franklin said.
“My experience was it created goodwill with the local community. It obviously created goodwill with the people who served, and it let them present a gospel witness. … And it exposes your churches to greater service in new ways as well.”
Serving the community
“So it exalts the name of Jesus and you have witnessing opportunities. You have a chance for your people to get involved, and you end up serving people in your area. Even if you don’t have a team (within your own association), if you don’t have all the equipment, all that can still happen.”
Recently, the association partnered again with Kentucky Baptist DR to donate an unused trailer to a relief ministry in Canada.
But the association is keeping their recovery trailer, which includes chainsaws and similar equipment.
“I am keeping that because it’s deployable,” Franklin said. He hopes that, little by little, it will help the association grow its DR ministry once again.