Ida relief cooperation among states ‘a partnership in the gospel’

With more than 423,000 south Louisianians still in the dark nine days after Hurricane Ida’s landfall, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams were working hard to repair homes, serve food and share Christ’s love in the region.

Through Sept. 6, 14 sites were hosting teams from 13 states. They had prepared 147,517 meals, served 4,790 meals, assessed 504 damaged properties, completed 40 chainsaw jobs, and offered 1,207 showers and 821 laundry loads. Teams also had distributed 101 Bibles, had shared the gospel 68 times, and had seen 12 people profess their faith in Christ.

Among the teams working to restore hope in Louisiana were North Carolina Baptists. Tom Beam, North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission coordinator, said that since Sept. 3 team members had prepared 60,769 meals and offered 190 showers and 166 laundry loads at First Baptist Church in New Orleans.

“Not only are we here preparing meals for people in need and cleaning out houses, we also have an opportunity to share the gospel,” Beam told the Baptist Message. “We want people to know that Jesus is the best part of who they are. We already have heard of people asking more questions about the gospel, asking more questions about who Jesus is and how Jesus can be a part of their life. Our volunteers make sure that they talk to people (about Christ) every day. We have heard that there are people who are thinking about accepting Christ, and we hope that, as we follow up with them through the next coming days, we will see that as a reality.”

First Baptist New Orleans Pastor Chad Gilbert said the North Carolina team has been one of many groups and individuals who have continued to pour out love to those in his community.

“Thankfully, Southern Baptists have rallied,” Gilbert said. “Continue to send every resource you can. Maybe find a local church and partner with them uniquely to send resources, pray for them, partner, send teams. It’s been amazing for me to see God at work through the body of Christ. All the relationships that you have formed through the years with sister churches, other pastors, that in a moment to say we want to help is really comforting.”

About 45 miles to the north, since Sept. 4, a team from Arkansas had prepared 9,870 meals, completed eight chainsaw jobs and offered 140 showers and 57 laundry loads at Woodland Park Baptist Church in Hammond. Incident commander Jay Woods said helping others get back into their homes is important, but sharing the gospel is the ultimate goal.

“Our teams actually talk to people one on one, spread the gospel and tell people about Jesus,” he said. “None of our teams go out without telling the families that they are dealing with about Jesus, which is our number one priority. And that’s what we are doing here.”

Woodland Park Baptist Pastor Tim Moffett said with so many in his area still without means to cook a hot meal, help from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams is much needed.

“We are giving them a person who they can speak to, will love them, will care for them, will pray for them, and just provide the kind of warmth and connection and compassion that they really need just as much as anything else in this hour,” he said. “I was sharing with our church (Sunday) that all of these things exist in part because our church, which is 76 years old, has given a part of every Sunday’s offering to the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention. That’s part of the reason that these kind of ministries can be here today.”