EDISON, N.J. – College students will have their second opportunity in as many years to use their holiday breaks to minister to disaster survivors in the Northeast as the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is coordinating their deployment to respond in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.
“The opportunities for short-term mobilization will be ongoing because the need is so great,” said Susan Peugh, a NAMB staff member who coordinates volunteer opportunities and helped pull the initiative together.
“It is great to see this partnership come together to assist the people affected by Sandy. We know students want to help and [we] have seen the excellent ministry they have provided in the past. The opportunities to serve here will be life-changing,” Peugh said.
The first wave of students, expected Dec. 7, will lodge at Staten Island’s Arlington Warehouse and will pay for the privilege. A $15 registration fee and a $15 per-night fee will help reduce logistical expenses, such as insurance, identification badges and lodging.
The students will work with trained Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers, primarily assisting residents affected by Sandy to clean up their properties.
Photo by Susan Whitley
Susan Peugh discusses plans to involve college students in disaster relief recovery ministry in response to Hurricane Sandy with Mickey Caison, second from left, Randy Corn, right, and Vince Alderman at the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief incident command center in Edison, N.J., hosted by Raritan Valley Baptist Church.
Students will be required to view a SBDR training video prior to traveling to New York. They will receive additional onsite training specific to their assignments. More than 350 students assisted in SBDR clean up ministry last year in response to Hurricane Irene.
Campus student directors and college students interested in ministry opportunities in the area may register at regonline.com/collegiatedr (use code “collegiatedr”). A mobilization coordinator will contact those expressing interest to connect them with ministry opportunities.
SBDR volunteers surpassed the 1.5 million meals prepared mark Nov. 23. Kitchen operations will continue to decline as power is restored, but the recovery efforts, like those with which the students will assist, will continue for months into the new year, according to NAMB DR executive director Fritz Wilson. On Thanksgiving Day, six SBDR kitchens in New York and New Jersey prepared 40,000 meals.
Volunteers have reported 57 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry. One of those ministry contacts included NAMB trustee chairman Doug Dieterly. His Indiana SBDR volunteer team was working a mud-out job at a condo in New Jersey when they were able to share the gospel with the owner who prayed to receive Christ. Dieterly, an attorney, is executive pastor of Plymouth Baptist Church in Plymouth, Ind.
NAMB also is coordinating church-to-church partnerships in the region. Churches interested in assisting churches in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy may email [email protected] to submit their requests for partnership.
In total, more than 1,200 SBDR volunteers from Canada and 37 states have responded to Sandy. Baptist convention volunteers have served from Alabama, Arkansas, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas-Nebraska, Kentucky, Maryland/Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, New England, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Northwest Baptist Convention, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania/South Jersey, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, the Southern Baptists of Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah/Idaho and West Virginia.
From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to the disaster relief operations can contact their state conventions or contribute to NAMB’s disaster relief fund via namb.net/disaster-relief-donations. Other ways to donate are to call 866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.)