While North Carolina Baptists await a possible response to Texas’ Hurricane Harvey catastrophe, leaders were watching a potential tropical storm as it skirts the N.C. coast.
“Images of catastrophic flooding in Texas and now a potential threat in Louisiana motivate us to pray for those affected and to seek ways to help,” said Gaylon Moss, disaster relief director with Baptists on Mission, also known as North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), in an email to the Biblical Recorder and other leaders.
Moss said N.C. Baptists are standing by to assist Texas in its disaster response.
“We have been in touch with state and national relief organizations and are prepared to respond as needed,” he said.
Preparations began last Thursday (Aug. 24) as NCBM began “preparing three of its mobile kitchens and leadership for the possibility of response,” Moss said.
Disaster relief volunteers have also been alerted to the possibility of response. Generally when disasters strike, states that are closer go in first when it is safe to do so. The problem with Hurricane Harvey is that the system has stalled and rains continue. Flooding issues are causing major concerns. Many rescues are taking place, and in many areas, it is not safe to respond yet.
Tropical storm watches and warnings were issued for the N.C. coast by forecasters on Monday (Aug. 29). If it became a storm, it would have been named Irma. But the system is not expected to form a tropical storm, although wind gusts are up to as high as 40 miles per hour in some places and rain is expected to continue, especially in the Outer Banks. Moss said he will monitor the situation, along with other state disaster relief leaders.
Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions partnership for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, posted some pastoral lessons Aug. 28 on his Facebook page.
On Aug. 28, he wrote, “Even while the water is rising 1) if your church facility is flooded, secure a place for corporate worship during the months ahead – your people will need it; 2) contact pastor friends now and form church to church partnerships for relief and recovery; 3) secure a staging area for volunteers coming from outside the city – you will need space for lodging, eating, bathing, etc.; and 4) be prayerfully dependent on the Father and His people!”
Register is the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Gulfport, Miss., where he was serving when Hurricane Katrina hit 12 years ago today (Aug. 29). Register witnessed firsthand the ministry of N.C. Baptists as thousands of volunteers poured into his state and set up a partnership in his area. NCBM built and repaired hundreds of homes in the area.
Register also advised church leaders to work on town partners to bring in essentials – water, ice, baby formula/diapers, MREs (meals ready to eat), gasoline – to the church community.
“Concentrate only on the basics,” he said. “Do not count on the government or relief organizations to provide for your people; this is too big a disaster. The system is overloaded. You are the Under Shepherd, be proactive in loving on your community by securing/providing these life-saving essentials.”
Anyone who would like to participate or give can do so at baptistsonmission.org/hurricaneharvey.