A number of Baptist groups in the United States have offered assistance to persons and communities affected by tornadoes in the state of Oklahoma in that country.
On the afternoon of May 20, a tornado with peak winds estimated at 210 miles per hour (340 km/h), struck Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, killing more than 20 persons and injuring 377 others. More than 140 patients, including at least 70 children, were treated at hospitals. Damage was estimated at between US$1.5 billion and US$2 billion.
The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes over the previous two days in Moore and other towns such as Shawnee. Other tornadoes affected Oklahoma and other states in the US between May 26 and 31, causing further damage.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), Texas Baptist Men (TBM), North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, American Baptist Churches USA and other Baptist groups have sent personnel and supplies and offered prayerful support to the town of Moore and other communities.
Assistance offered included the removal of debris, provision of food and water and emotional and spiritual support for families and responders. “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has established a centralized plan to assist area CBF churches and partners respond in the Moore and Shawnee areas,” said Tommy Deal, US Disaster Response Coordinator for the CBF.
NCBM indicated that they had 50 volunteers available to go to the disaster area. TBM did some work in the Shawnee area and was working toward offering long term recovery help.
Employees at Baylor Health Care System (BHCS), a Baptist-affiliated institution in the state of Texas, donated hygiene kits in areas where fewer resources were available, according to Don Sewell, director of Faith in Action Initiatives with BHCS.
Assistance by Baptists is expected to be extended throughout the summer months as groups stagger the sending of teams into the area.
“Pray for the people impacted by the disaster as they go through various stages of grief and then seek to come out the other end as stronger people,” said George Bullard, Baptist World Alliance® regional secretary for North America and general secretary for the North American Baptist Fellowship, which is helping to coordinate the Baptist response through its Disaster Response Network.
“Pray for the first responders who go in when the situation may still be dangerous. Pray for the people with authority and power that they will make wise decisions about the deployment of resources. Pray for people who want to help that they will discover ways to help that actually benefit,” Bullard urged.
Baptist World Alliance®
© June 4, 2013