As the Director of Disaster Relief and Camping Ministries, I get to go around the state, meeting with DOMs and pastors about disaster relief ministry. In fact, it is an important part of my job.
Because all disasters start and end locally (in a community big or small), I talk about how any mission-minded local church can prepare for, respond to, and recover after a disaster that might occur in or near their community.
Last summer, when the Mosquito Fire burned 20,000 acres in one day and was threatening the town of Foresthill, my home church (Bell Road Baptist) in Auburn happened to be one of the closest churches to the affected community.
Admittingly, I was not fully prepared to respond. I felt like the painter who was always busy painting other houses and, over several years, realized he neglected his own house.
One of the contacts I had a year earlier at our Placer County Environmental Health Office reached out to our church at 1:30 AM when the entire community of over 1800 fell under a mandatory evacuation due to the raging Mosquito Fire.
By 2:00 AM, Bell Road Baptist Church became a county-supported Temporary Evacuation Point. And by 7:00 AM, our church members were serving coffee and biscuits to evacuees, who left their homes, many with just a few belongings and pets. The church later partnered with Red Cross to become a shelter, and California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief assisted with extending the church’s kitchen capacity by bringing in a shower unit.
During the evacuation, an unchurched family with a special needs child received the love of Christ from church members and, when the disaster was over, began attending church regularly. The mom said, “I wanted to find out more about the love this church showed our family in the midst of our fear and confusion.”
California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief continues to offer training and maintains a core level of vetted volunteers and equipment; however, one of the best and most effective ways of bringing help, hope, and healing to hurting humanity in times of crisis is through our local CSBC churches.
I call it “Community Disaster Ministry.”
Editor’s Note: We hope you have enjoyed reading our many DR articles written by our own volunteers. Our work is focused here, in California, but we stand at the ready to serve and support disaster relief across the United States and around the world. If you would like to financially support this vital and impactful ministry, we know your generosity will be blessed.
Mike Bivins is the volunteer mobilization and Disaster Relief coordinator for the California Southern Baptist Convention. His primary responsibility is to assist churches and individuals to engage in missions and Disaster Relief ministries. Bivins challenges CSBC congregations to be “disaster ready” for when calamity strikes their community.
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