DISASTER RELIEF DIGEST: Florida, Georgia volunteers see professions of faith; Kentucky Baptists give generators, gift cards

Florida DR team sees four professions of faith

By Keila Diaz/Florida Baptist Convention

METAIRIE, La. (BP) – Over Labor Day weekend, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed to a suburb of New Orleans to assist with cleanup and recovery from Hurricane Ida and help run a disaster relief command center at Metairie Baptist Church.

A disaster relief team from Florida removes a tree from a house in Lousiana.

But the team has done much more than cut limbs and place tarps on houses.

“We have had four professions of faith so far,” said David Coggins, state director for Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. “Two of the new believers were drivers picking up a piece of equipment, and one of our logistics volunteers led them to the Lord.”

The group of 80 to 100 volunteers staffing the command center have more than 200 job requests. The jobs are primarily chainsaw work and temporary roofing as well as a few flood recovery requests, Coggins said. During their first week on the ground the teams assessed the damage and completed 30 jobs.

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Georgia volunteer leads man to Christ after scary morning

By Roger Alford/Christian Index

KENTWOOD, La. (BP) – Gloria Harper Anderson’s friends suggested she take the day off after her near-death experience in the Louisiana hurricane zone, but the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer wouldn’t hear of it.

Gloria Harper Anderson

The Lord’s at work here, Anderson said, and she didn’t want to miss a moment of it.

Anderson was on one of the Georgia teams deployed to help Louisiana residents clean up after Hurricane Ida blew through with heavy rains and 150-mph winds. The storm had left a trail of destruction across the state and beyond and had shaken many of the survivors to the point that they realized their need for God.

The Leesburg, Ga., woman was having breakfast with other volunteers in Kentwood, La., when she choked on a piece of a sausage link. When she couldn’t get it dislodged herself, she put her hand on her throat to signal other volunteers that she couldn’t breathe. They tried the Heimlich maneuver, loosening the obstruction just enough to allow some oxygen through. EMTs wanted to take her to the hospital, but she managed to expel the rest of the obstruction herself.

What has stuck with Anderson from that experience on Sept. 11 is the blessing she would have missed if she had taken the day off. She and a teammate had driven up to a storm-damaged home. When she got out of the car, she met Robert Johnson, a Louisiana man who was helping his sister with cleanup. Another member of the Georgia team had shared the Gospel with Johnson the day before and had given him a Bible. Johnson had seemed reluctant at the time.

But Johnson told Anderson he had read a portion of his new Bible during the night.

“There’s a shade tree out in the yard; why don’t we walk out there?” Anderson told the man. “It’ll be cooler. Let’s talk for just a few minutes.”

Anderson, a member of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., shared with the man the ABCs of salvation, a very familiar discussion starter for evangelistic-minded Southern Baptists. “A. Admit that you’re a sinner. B. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross, and that He arose from the dead. C. Confess Jesus as your Savior and commit your life to following Him.”

“Now Robert, I’m going to ask you if you’d like to pray,” she said. “But you must be sincere about it. The Lord knows your heart.”

“I want to pray, but I don’t know what to say,” Johnson said.

“I can help you with that,” Anderson replied.

Johnson prayed and professed Jesus as his Savior. He was the second person in two days whom Anderson had introduced to Christ.

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Kentucky association sends generators, gift cards to New Orleans

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

ERLANGER, Ky. (BP) – Members of the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association (NKBA) reached out a helping hand to friends in New Orleans who were trying to put lives back together after Hurricane Ida.

Northern Kentucky Baptist Association delivered 40 generators worth $24,000 and $10,000 in gift cards to the New Orleans Baptist Association to assist victims of Hurricane Ida.

NKBA sent 40 generators and $10,000 in gift cards to the New Orleans Baptist Association (NOBA). The generators were $600 apiece, for a price tag of $24,000.

“We’ve had an existing partnership with them,” said Jim Woolums, the director of missions for the NKBA. “I called Jack Hunter, the DOM (director of missions) at NOBA, before the storm hit. He and I are good friends. We knew they were going to need help.”

Woolums’ early organization made it easier for them to get help together quickly for what was needed. He asked Hunter what the biggest need would be and was told generators. Thousands remain without electricity because of the flooding, Woolums said.

NKBA had helped previously when Katrina’s devastation swept through New Orleans in 2005.

“After Katrina, insurance became so expensive that churches had to decide if they were going to pay the preacher or pay the insurance premium,” Woolums said. “A couple of them said, ‘It’s in God’s hands. We feel like our ministry and pastor is more important.’”

Of course, another devastating flood has left many of them without anything.

NKBA sent two shipments of 20 generators and the gift cards that pastors could distribute to the people affected by Hurricane Ida. The generators were a Godsend, Hunter said. He told Woolums that was the greatest need because there weren’t many in the area. Anyone lucky enough to find one couldn’t afford it because the price was so high, he said.

“It’s hot and humid there every day,” Woolums said. “Now the biggest fight is against mold. It can take over a situation. They have a window to be able to salvage before they have to bulldoze.”

While other Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief teams have helped with victims of Hurricane Ida, including teams from Kentucky, Woolums said NKBA’s teams are helping because of existing relationships they’ve developed in New Orleans.

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