This information will help Pastors and church leaders communicate accurately with their congregations about how they can deliver help, healing, and hope to communities affected by disasters of all kinds. Many well-meaning churches often attempt good work during times of disaster in ways that add stress to communities that are already reeling from depleted resources. You can become part of the solution by leading your church to understand some basic dynamics of disaster response, to be prepared to deliver the greatest resources we have to offer, and to leverage the power of Christ-like generosity to meet real needs at just the right time.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
- Disaster responses are managed by local government officials. Groups like Southern Baptist Disaster Relief always work closely with those officials and other responsible responding organizations in order to minimize unnecessary duplication of services and maximize the value of volunteerism and donated resources.
- The people in our churches, filled with the Holy Spirit and armed with the Gospel and good works, are the gifts we have to give to disaster stricken people. It is Christ’s love that compels us to give ourselves in service for the benefit of others and share the life-giving Good News of Jesus with people who may have given up all hope.
- The good works we do in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief unlock the door for Christian witness and result in many people hearing the Good News and giving praise to our Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:13-16).
- Individuals and churches who “self-deploy” can become part of the problem rather than the solution. That’s why it is best to deploy with a knowledgeable and trusted partner such as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has integrity because of the ethics, competence, and safety standards we demand of our trained volunteers. When untrained volunteers deploy with us, we demand the same standards and provide the necessary training to keep them, and those they serve, safe. The Disaster Relief Director of the affected state will tell us if we can bring untrained volunteers or not.
Of course, the best time to prepare to respond to disaster is well before it happens. However, we know that not everyone thinks that far ahead. If you have untrained people in your church who want to volunteer to work in mass feeding, flood clean-up, or chainsaw responses, here’s what you need to do:
- Get the background checks your church requires to work with children. These same clearances will suffice for Disaster Relief work. If you already have up-to-date clearances from your church, the person responsible for keeping track of them needs to complete the “Clearance Verification Form” for each person interested in volunteering. This form can be found in the document library at http://dr.brnonline.org. All persons may be included on the same form. Also, for $10, you may get a background check from Protect My Ministry by visiting https://www.ministryopportunities.org/Application.aspx?oid=16696.
- Create a “Volunteer Profile” at http://dr.brnonline.org.
- Print out and sign the “Untrained Volunteer Agreement” found in the document library at http://dr.brnonline.org. Bring it to the deployment and give to the Unit Leader.
- Download the appropriate training manual from the document library at http://dr.brnonline.org. Review it in preparation for the on-site training that will be required before you are placed on a team. You might start with the manual for Feeding Units, since that will be one of the first priorities in Texas. You can watch an online training class to go alongside the manual at https://youtu.be/FRFvwuN9D0g.
- Await further instructions which will come by email from the Disaster Relief Director and the BRN. These will be distributed to volunteers who have registered at http://dr.brnonline.org.
- Support the Ed and Mary Price State Missions Offering. This is where the operational funds come from for Disaster Relief of PA/South Jersey.
- If you cannot join a team, you may be able to support those who do. Visit http://www.brnonline.org/give. Complete the fields and put the amount you are giving in the “Disaster Relief (Local)” box. In the “Special Instructions” box, tell us which response you are focusing on (e.g. – Harvey). Funds given here will help PASJ move equipment to the affected state. Any funds left over will be sent directly to Disaster Relief of the affected state.
- Please do not collect items and attempt to send them to the affected area unless those items have specifically been requested. Cash gifts are the best way to provide what is needed on site. If you have questions about what to give, contact your Disaster Relief Director, Kenton Hunt, at .