Packed with prayer, a building dedication in Lumberton brought local and state leaders together.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Gaylon Moss, left, disaster relief coordinator for North Carolina Baptists on Mission, leads a prayer during the dedication of a facility for Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts.
“Sat., Oct. 8, 2016, is a date many people in Eastern North Carolina will never forget,” said Richard Brunson, executive director of North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM), during a ceremony May 17 to dedicate a new hub for Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts. “Thousands of people were affected.”
People remember good days like wedding anniversaries and birthdays, but the dates of disasters also stick in their brains too, Brunson said.
When Hurricane Matthew hit in October, NCBM responded, first with mobile kitchens and assessment teams. They set up six feeding stations: Lumberton, Wallace, Whiteville, Fayetteville, Kinston, Rocky Mount and Greenville. They served 465,000 meals from those sites.
But, the devastation of Matthew continues. Many people are still displaced and unable to repair or find housing. While NCBM has its Red Springs Camp, getting people to Lumberton from that site was challenging and cost volunteer hours driving to and from the sites.
“Lumberton was really Ground Zero for Hurricane Matthew,” Brunson said. “This is where the most jobs are. And this is the place where we really needed something bigger.”
The 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Lumberton, which is located at 141 Avent Road, near Interstate 95, was purchased and renovated by NCBM to serve as a hub for Lumberton recovery efforts. The building can hold up to 100 volunteers inside with enough space for 50 more people staying in mobile sleeping units outside.
“God’s made this place possible,” Brunson said. “As North Carolina Baptists, a big part of our strategy is to provide a place for people to serve others in Jesus’ name, a place where we provide lodging and meals and the coordination of jobs.”
Currently, N.C. Baptists have recovery sites in Windsor, Goldsboro, Warsaw, Black River in Pender County, Lumberton and Red Springs.
John Butler, a product of Lumberton and Robeson County, said, “God has provided for this community.”
Butler, executive leader of business services for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, said that by meeting the needs of people, “it will open the door for those volunteers … to say let me tell you why I’m doing this. In the end, the greatest disaster that any person will ever face on this earth is the disaster of their life ending without a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.”
Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis shared about the magnitude of the hurricane and the flooding it caused.
“Lumber River is not just a little, local river,” he said, naming eight counties that the river influences.
“At noon on Saturday when the river was at flood stage at 13 feet, people were worried but Sunday when it got to almost 25 feet, it was beyond worry,” Davis said. “That’s 11 feet above flood stage. You think about how much water that is.”
The river is 113 miles long. The National Weather Service said the hurricane unleashed 13.6 trillion gallons of water on the Southeast. Davis said that’s 75 percent of all the water in the Chesapeake Bay. “I know that when the Baptist men and women come into our state [emergency operations center] that we become a better EOC (emergency operations center),” said Mike Sprayberry, North Carolina emergency management director. Calling NCBM the “go-to volunteer agency in North Carolina,” he said that he is “humbled [and inspired] by what you do.”
Davis proclaimed May 17, 2017 as N.C. Baptist Men and Baptists on Mission Day in Lumberton and read the proclamation of thanks just before the ribbon cutting at the dedication of the new building.
A couple of days of bad weather May 24-25 resulted in tornados and other storms leaving some damage in Davie, Iredell, Sampson, Stokes, Union and Yadkin counties. Each site is managing a work schedule. Contact
- Courtney, Davie/Yadkin Counties – (919) 459-5661;
- Autryville, Sampson County – (252) 624-4996;
- King, Stokes County – (336) 394-2530;
- Marshville, Union County, (704) 254-0271.
To volunteer for Matthew recovery efforts, visit baptistsonmission.org or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5596.