HOUSTON—Texas Baptist Men volunteers and their ministry partners from at least two-dozen other states have prepared more than 1 million meals for Hurricane Harvey survivors, first-responders and emergency personnel.
In one month, Baptist disaster relief workers donated more than 150,000 volunteer hours, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency values at $3.5 million in labor.
‘A good kind of tired’
“We’re tired, but like my grandmother used to say, it’s a good kind of tired,” TBM Executive Director Mickey Lenamon said.
While disaster relief continues in some areas, TBM simultaneously is beginning to focus on a long-term rebuilding effort along the Texas Gulf Coast, Lenamon noted.
As a part of that effort, TBM has helped establish Volunteer Villages in several locations with the cooperation of Texas Baptist churches.
Churches near affected areas receive short-term volunteers from other congregations around the state—or out of state—and provide them with basic overnight lodging, typically in a gymnasium or other church facility. Baptist disaster relief teams provide support for the volunteers and coordinate assignments. For more information, click here.
By the numbers
Through Sept. 26, Baptist volunteers completed more than 1,000 mud-out jobs and nearly 500 chainsaw jobs, purified 39,000 gallons of water and provided care for more than 900 children in shelters. They supplied access to about 16,600 showers and washed about 9,800 loads of laundry.
The volunteers distributed about 47,000 boxes, 3,900 Bibles and 1,900 gospel tracts. They made more than 15,000 personal contacts and recorded 200 commitments to Christ, including 157 professions of faith.
TBM involvement along the Gulf Coast began before evacuated residents could return to their homes. TBM volunteers provided meals, access to showers and laundry service to first-responders with Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 search-and rescue teams, along with other emergency personnel.
It also included airlifting 31,000 pounds of supplies to multiple locations along the Gulf Coast, using a historic 1942 DC-3 and coordinating caravans of trailers that delivered hundreds of thousands of pounds of hay to Southeast Texas farmers and ranchers for their livestock.
‘They showed us love’
Along the way, Baptist disaster relief workers shared their faith with non-Christians and lifted the spirits of Christians whose lives have been disrupted by the hurricane.
Jerome Scott, who served as a minister until visual impairment limited his ability, saw his home in South Houston devastated by floodwaters.
“My son did the best he could to help, but he couldn’t do what these people are doing,” Scott said, referring to an Arizona Baptist mud-out team working a third consecutive day at his house.
“When I think how good they have been to us, it makes tears come to my eyes. … They showed us love. These people didn’t know us, but they came in as if we were part of their family. … I’ve never seen the church reach out like these people have done.”
Scott, who already had cataracts removed from his eyes and was anticipating retinal surgery a few days after the team worked at his house, hoped the operation would enable him to regain sufficient sight so he could volunteer to assist others.
“I want to help somebody else the way they have helped me. You can’t help but want to pass it on,” he said. “When I get myself back up, I’ll be one of the first to say, ‘Sign me up.’”
Disaster relief efforts along the Texas Gulf Coast not only drew volunteers from out of state, but also inspired out-of-state financial contributors, Lenamon noted.
A Royal Ambassador group from First Southern Baptist Church in Lawrence, Kan., shined the shoes of worshippers on two consecutive Sundays, indicating all tips received would go to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. TBM received a $206.58 check from the group.
To contribute financially to TBM disaster relief, click here or send a check designated “disaster relief” to Texas Baptist Men, 5351 Catron, Dallas 75227.