Richard Brunson and the North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM) staff are meeting with public health and emergency management officials to plan for a response to the novel COVID-19 outbreak.
“This involves a lot of the same people that we know and work with during a natural disaster,” said Brunson, NCBM’s executive director. “We think that this disaster will be more of a local response and a neighbor-helping-neighbor response.
“We want to help churches minister in their own communities, and we want to help them have resources and training they need to do this safely for the volunteers and for the people we are ministering to.”
NCBM launched a webpage where individuals who feel isolated due to social distancing restrictions can share prayer requests and other needs. The site asks for a person’s location to better identify a local church that can help fulfill the needs.
The organization is also looking for churches and individuals who are willing to help within their local communities, including churches with kitchens.
“The greatest need may be to deliver groceries to elderly isolated people and without making personal contact with them to let them know that you care about them,” Brunson said.
Like many in North Carolina, Brunson said the NCBM staff are working remotely. They are staying in touch with daily conference calls and are contacting coordinators and volunteers.
“In some ways all disasters have a lot in common, and every disaster is also very different,” Brunson said. “This COVID-19 one is very different in the kinds of needs people will have who are isolated (prayer, food or groceries left at the doorstep, there will be depression and issues that people have who are isolated). Many people need to know that they are not alone and that others (God and Christians) care about them.”
The COVID-19 outbreak has delayed much of the Hurricane Florence recovery effort, “but God is still in control,” he said. Currently, NCBM is only allowing small teams to volunteer for daylong projects in order to abide by the Center for Disease Control guidelines.
For ideas about how churches can help, visit baptistsonmission.org/Coronavirus/Church/Help.