NCBM, fellow relief workers ‘stand alongside’ Moore residents
    May 30 2013 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

    MOORE, Okla. – For 90 minutes on the afternoon of May 20, Ivette Castro didn’t know if she, her 16-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son would live to see the evening as an EF5 tornado – the most powerful rating possible – bared down on them.
    Trapped in a small closet together, the three prayed. Admittedly their spiritual background had been spotty at best. The family rarely attended church.
    But in those hot, cramped quarters, it became obvious to Castro that God was sparing her family.
    “Other than a miracle, [we wouldn’t have gotten out],” Castro said. “We were pinned in. So many things happened. I was supposed to be at work. I decided to stay home for some reason. Because I stayed home, I was able to get my kids to do the things that saved their lives.”
    A disaster relief team from North Carolina Baptist Men helped Castro and the family find a variety of items they had given up for lost, such as a hard drive containing photos and an urn full of a pet’s ashes. The N.C. team is working in areas near the elementary school in Moore, Okla., where seven children were killed.
    “We’re cutting some trees, and we’re pushing debris, but our number one objective is to help the homeowners find their valuables,” said Bill Martin, project coordinator with NCBM and a member of Mineral Springs Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.

    Photo by John Swain
    Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers Roy Byrd, left, and Bill Ammons clear a damaged tree from a home in Moore, Okla. Chainsaw work has been limited because of the intense nature of the winds from the storm.

    After teams sift through the damage with homeowners, they use skid-steer loaders to push all the remaining debris to the front of the lots so FEMA can haul it away.
    “It’s … total devastation,” Martin said. “[Televised news reports are] showing a lot, but it’s not giving it justice like it is on the ground.”
    Except for a recovered wedding band, photographs and few other items scattered along the ground, “there’s nothing salvageable,” Martin said.
    “The number one thing is pictures – the pictures of the family or friends, children, grandchildren,” he said. “That’s just above everything else to the homeowners. They get their pictures, [and] they’re in pretty good shape.
    “The reason is there’s nothing left – washers, dryers, cars, bedroom furniture, clothes … [are] gone.”  
    About 50 NCBM volunteers arrived May 23 in Moore. According to reports from the field on May 30, NCBM had helped complete nearly 100 projects since the team arrived. Four professions of faith in Moore – and a total of 15 decisions throughout the state – had been reported as a result of the relief efforts. 
    Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director, thanked N.C. Baptists for their support of disaster relief missions. He asked people to continue praying for the victims and volunteers.
    “North Carolina Baptists have been blessed with over 14,000 trained men and women volunteers and lots of equipment that can be used to minister to hurting people and to glorify God,” he said. “Pray for the teams and the people they will assist.”
    N.C. Baptist volunteers were among hundreds of other Southern Baptists who are helping Oklahoma storm survivors in Moore and Shawnee, Okla., following historic tornadoes. More than 40 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteer chaplains have been engaged in the response.

    Photo by John Swain
    Enio Aguero, right, disaster relief chaplain coordinator for the North American Mission Board, prays with Ivette Castro, her son Antonio, center, and daughter Damaris, left. Southern Baptists were there to help the family cope shortly after the storm devastated their home and threatened their lives.

    Oklahoma SBDR mobile kitchens had prepared more than 35,000 meals within a week of the disaster, and a total of more than 160 recovery and cleanup jobs had been completed.
    “I felt like God called me here,” said Bill Ammons, a volunteer from Bethany Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. “I’ve felt like God has called me other places, too. When He calls me, I go.”
    Billy Puckett, a member of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, has been helping his Louisiana team with a variety of tasks in Moore, including repairing roofs and debris removal.
    Puckett noted that Louisiana has been on the receiving end of significant SBDR work over the past several years – from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to Hurricane Isaac last year. Since Oklahoma Southern Baptists had been such a big part of those efforts, Puckett wanted to help them in their time of need.
    “I’d like [the people of Oklahoma] to see that we want to come and stand alongside of people, love on people and hug people during their tough times," said Puckett, who serves as director of community ministries for the New Orleans Baptist Association. “If they have a bad perspective of the church, I hope this gives them a new perspective of the church.”
    A Kansas-Nebraska SBDR team saw that in action over the weekend. At one of the ministry locations the team talked with a 28-year-old woman who was a believer but wasn’t involved in church.
    The team’s chaplain, Brian Rothrock, shared with her the story of Nicodemus and encouraged her to get involved in a local church. As the volunteers left, the woman told Rothrock that God had been drawing her back to Him for some time and the experience of seeing the team’s faith in action had left her changed and committed to getting involved in church.
    “She got to tell her story,” said Kelly Cook of Crosspoint Church in Hayes, Kan. “She was encouraged, and she was changed. We were just another piece of God showing His love to her.”
    The North American Mission Board coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.
    Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers and chaplains and 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.
    For more information about NCBM disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma and how you can help, go to To support this effort financially, please donate to the Oklahoma Midwest Tornado Fund; 100 percent of all donations will go toward this disaster. Mail to: NCBM Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512 or donate online by clicking the “Donations” area on the right of website.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry is a writer with the North American Mission Board. Melissa Lilley, who coordinates communications for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and Shawn Hendricks, the Biblical Recorder’s managing editor, contributed to this story.)
    5/30/2013 2:58:59 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Baptist men, Moore, NCBM, Oklahoma, relief

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