DR volunteers show Christian love to Oak Fire residents 

Written By Lisa Kooiman

DR volunteers show Christian love to Oak Fire residents 

MARIPOSA—With more than 19,000 acres having burned in the oak Fire since July 22, California Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteers in early August ministered to more than 100 homeowners affected by wildfire.

DR volunteers helped with one of the most vital resources they can provide, personal property recovery (PPR). But the thing that leaves the biggest impact is the Christian love in action by meeting the needs of hurting humanity in crisis. There is no job too big or too small and there is a job for everyone on the deployed team such as serving a hot meal, clearing a home-site, or standing by the side of the property owner who is processing the destruction at their feet by providing emotional support and the reassurance of God’s love for them in this terrible situation.

Disaster Relief volunteers assisting in personal property recovery

“There were 18 volunteers that were called into action on the Oak Fire” shared Laura Johnson, Disaster Relief operations coordinator. “At least 6,000 people out of a community of 18,000 had been affected by the fire. God gave us the people to get the job done. God tells us we need to connect with these people.”

A typical day for a DR volunteer begins at 7 a.m. where lodging has been provided by a CSBC church near to the disaster site. Breakfast and devotion are led, and assignments are given for the day. The team leader will assess the property, and the chaplain will stay with the property owner, depending how involved the property owner wants to be in the recovery process.

Disaster Relief praying before starting work.

Following a full day’s work, the team returns back to the church to clean up and debrief the day by counting the number of ministry contacts made and how many Bibles were distributed. All members of the volunteer team sign a Bible and give it to the resident after praying.

A resident who sought the help of the DR team, Cheryl Harlan shared, “The crew that helped me made it a thousand percent easier than I ever imagined. After going through the destruction, we all prayed. Then they presented me with a Bible, and I just lost it and cried!” She continued, “This had been my family property and it was so hard for me to fully comprehend what had happened and what I needed to do.”

In a follow up, Harlan, shared she has been reading the Bible each day since the team presented it to her. The Oak Fire has been the only wildfire DR has been called to respond to, during this fire season.

Persons considering getting involved with DR, and feel God is calling you to this special area of ministry, don’t miss your opportunity this week, August 26 (https://csbc.com/event/disaster-relief-chaplain-training/ ). CSBC Disaster Relief is offering chaplain training and orientation that meet requirements to be a fully badged volunteer eligible for deployment to any disaster. Generally, orientation and training events are offered three or four times a year.

Fully badged DR volunteers are required to be at least 18 years of age.

For more questions involving DR and how individuals or churches can get involved contact Laura Johnson, ljohnson@csbc.com.

About the Author

Lisa Kooiman
Executive Assistant, Office of Communications, CSBC

Lisa Kooiman serves as the executive assistant in the Office of Communications for the California Southern Baptist Convention. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno. Lisa and her husband, Ruben, are enjoying the season of parenthood with their preschool daughter, Everly. They attend the Old Town Campus of Clovis Hills Community Church, the very church (under different leadership and name) where Lisa made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young girl.

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