Baptist Men joyfully serve S.C. disaster victims
    November 2 2015 by Rick Houston & Seth Brown

    Cameron Clark was down on his hands and knees with a power saw, cutting rows in the ruined hardwood floors of a house just outside Johnsonville, S.C., so they’d be easier to tear out.
     
    The town of 1,500 residents is in Florence County, about 30 miles west of Myrtle Beach. Persistent heavy rains in early October preceded Hurricane Joaquin, bringing estimated damages of more than $1 billion to the Bahama Islands and southeast United States. Before the last raindrop fell, North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), also known as Baptists on Mission, began the process of deploying resources to affected areas.
     
    The response to what The Weather Channel called a “1,000-year rain event” is what brought Clark to this home. Though not destroyed outright, the home had to be completely gutted by Clark and a team of volunteers from virtually every corner of the state of North Carolina.
     
    Clark was covered from head to toe in sweat and sawdust, but he didn’t appear to care in the least. He kept right on working and joking, keeping those around him at ease. If ever there was a picture of faith in action, this was it.

     
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    “All through my life, God spoke to me through people, church and life experiences,” said Clark, a member of Osborne Baptist Church in Eden, N.C. “I didn’t listen to most of it because it was just people talking.”
     
    “[A]ctions, not words, made an impact on me,” Clark added. “I feel like mission work is a way to impact people’s lives through God’s work. I know I want to make a difference. Maybe I will, but my main goal is to impact the people we come in contact with.”
     
    Clark made the journey from Eden with Wayne Hammock, who served as something of a crew chief for the team. Like many others, Hammock can remember the date he gave his life to Christ. It was March 19, 1999.
     
    Around the same time an older gentleman from his church began inviting him to participate in one of the church’s trips to the state’s eastern coast in the wake of Hurricane Floyd. One after another, he came up with excuses for not going, in order to continue work on a shop he was in the process of building. One Thursday afternoon, Hammock got an answer of his own. “God spoke to me, and He said, ‘You’ve got people who don’t even have a place to live after this storm. You’re putting your time in a hobby shop,’” Hammock remembered.
     
    The church had adopted a family whose house was destroyed in the storm, and after his conversation with God, Hammock was there to serve at every opportunity. Rarely has he stopped since. He lost count of how many times he has served as an NCBM volunteer, so often that when he points to the trailer filled with tools hooked to the back of his truck, he calls it “my joy.”
     
    “That’s my way of serving,” Hammock said. “A pastor, I guess, will tell you that he feels closer to God when he’s in the pulpit. I feel the closest to God when I’ve got that trailer and I’m going to a destination where I can help somebody.”
     
    Some of the volunteers at the site were veterans of numerous recovery operations, while others were on their very first. They were nervous, hoping not to get in the way but still wanting to help. Some worked behind a desk, and felt less than valuable. Surely, they would’ve been more help staying at home. Not so, insisted Hammock. Not so at all.
     
    Hammock responded to the suggestion by telling the story of a recent training session. At lunch, volunteers gathered around an NCBM feeding unit. At the end of the serving line sat a young man in a wheelchair, handing out bottles of water.
     
    “He was serving, and his service was just as important as any [heavy equipment] I drive,” Hammock added. “There’s something for everybody. If it’s your heart to serve, I think God’s going to find somewhere to use you.”
     
    Home base for the volunteers was Johnsonville First Baptist, located just a few miles from the home where the group worked for almost two full days. They slept in the church’s family life center or in campers. Meals were provided by one of NCBM’s three primary feeding units.
     
    As humbling as the work happened to be, the effort expended unraveling logistical entanglements back at Johnsonville First Baptist was impressive. Work orders had to be processed. Water and clothing were distributed to local residents in need. Thousands of meals were served.
     
    In the midst of it all was Terry Hall, a New Bern audiologist who is the disaster relief ministry coordinator for NCBM. After putting in nearly 50 hours a week at work, Hall answers multitudes of emails and phone calls as the head of a ministry like this one. And that’s just when he’s at home, not to mention when he’s responding to an emergency.
     
    “It’s just been a challenge, trying to balance the work, the family and this,” Hall said, the emotion thick in his voice. “But you know what? We can do it, because the good Lord provides.”
     
    More than 2,500 NCBM volunteers have utilized their skills and hard work to aid flood victims in northeast South Carolina. Relief efforts to date have been focused on removing mud, tearing out ruined materials from homes and temporary roof repair on more than 200 homes. They also have prepared and distributed more than 11,600 meals.
     
    “We’re in it for the long haul,” said Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief coordinator. “We’ve been communicating with South Carolina Baptists, and we want to help them as they transition from this cleanup effort to a rebuild effort.”
     
    Weeks after the rain has stopped, there are areas where floodwater has only recently begun to recede. Relief teams are still trying to decide which regions are in greatest need.
     
    Along with NCBM, teams from the North American Mission Board and more than a dozen Baptist state conventions have travelled to South Carolina to help in the recovery.
     
    “We’re grateful for the teams that participate and help out. We’re so thankful that they’ve showed up en masse,” said Moss. “And we’re going to need them for the long haul,” added Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM.
     
    Visit baptistsonmission.org to find out how to volunteer or donate to NCBM.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Houston is a writer who lives in Yadkinville. Seth Brown is the content editor for the Biblical Recorder.)

    11/2/2015 1:24:45 PM by Rick Houston & Seth Brown | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Baptists on Mission, disaster relief, NC Baptists




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