Oklahoma Baptists bringing hope, help after deadly tornadoes

Southern Baptist volunteers with Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief have been called into action in the immediate aftermath of the deadly tornado outbreak in Oklahoma on April 27.

From preparing meals to chainsaw/debris clean-up to chaplaincy ministry, teams are working in hard hit areas of the state.

Jason Yarbrough, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief state director, noted, “We will serve our neighbors and communities in need. We want to bring hope and help in this difficult time.” He highlighted the following ways Oklahoma volunteers will be making an impact:

— Teams are preparing food to be served to residents in Sulphur and Ardmore, with the expectation of helping other communities as well.

— The state Incident Command Center has been established at the Disaster Relief Team Center near Okarche. Command centers also have been set up at Sulphur, Calvary and in Morris.

— DR teams include feeding, chainsaw/recovery and assessors. Chaplains are accompanying all teams.

Working with other teams

Yarbrough remains in close communication with other relief organizations, including communicating with other Baptist state Disaster Relief teams in case further assistance is needed.

Todd Fisher, executive director-treasurer for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, highlighted the importance of Disaster Relief efforts and expressed compassion for the affected communities and individuals.

“I spent (hours) talking to pastors and directors of missions in the storm-affected areas of our state,” he said. “This was a significant event in many communities — loss of life, loss of homes and businesses, extensive damage. We need to pray. Our pastors are in the middle of it. Some talked to me while making sandwiches for workers. Some already had a chainsaw in their hands.”

‘Significant damage’

Fisher noted, “The April 27 storms have caused significant damage in a number of areas across our state. … We need to pray for these pastors as they lead and minister in trying times. Though difficult, there are great opportunities for the gospel — to serve people in Jesus’ name and point them to the hope found only in Christ.

“Pray for those grieving,” he said, “for those who lost their homes and businesses/places of work. Pray for first responders, utility crews, our DR relief teams and others serving people in this time. The ‘Oklahoma standard’ is that we weather any storm and sacrificially help one another. God bless our people and communities.”

Ways to help

For more information on how you can help, check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to this and other ongoing relief efforts in neighboring states, your state and beyond.

(Editor’s Note: This story was written and originally published by the Baptist Messenger, news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)