FIRST PERSON – Step forward, give, and trust God

Written By Chris Shipley

FIRST PERSON – Step forward, give, and trust God

If I had to summarize what we do at CSBC Disaster Relief, it would be that we step forward into difficult situations, giving of ourselves, all while trusting God.

As a new SBCDR chaplain, I have been deployed fortunately (or unfortunately) 4 times for disaster relief in the last seven months. What was once theoretical ideas learned through training has now become reality. Through each unique deployment, I came face to face with real people in need, and I had to put what I was taught into practice. I knew the SBCDR training was good when I took it, but as I served in real-life scenarios, I realized how great the SBC training really was for a new volunteer like me.

My first deployment was to the Oak Fire in Mariposa, California. There, I was graciously welcomed and encouraged by an experienced crew of fellow teammates committed to serving through DR. This was a great introduction. Of course, in typical disaster relief mode, I quickly learned the importance and practicality of being both ready and flexible.

Then came day two of deployment, when I was given my first chaplaincy assignment with a homeowner who lost everything in that fire. I recall my initial reaction being, “what did I get myself into?” It was then that I began thinking (and overthinking) all the things I had learned through my training. “Don’t say this,” and “instead, say this” swirled in my head as I approached the homeowner. I realized that I had to stop the thoughts in my head and just focus on serving while relying on God to do His work. I just needed to be present.

Encounters like these have reminded me that, much like the landowner in Matthew 20, God can do whatever He wants with whomever He chooses (Matthew 20:1-16).

Those of us who serve in Disaster Relief face many hard moments, but we serve others who are in desperate situations, and many who need Jesus. We serve first by meeting some immediate needs, and we seek out opportunities to plant seeds of salvation. The interactions we have with people become a part of their life stories during difficult times.

And along the way, I’m grateful to report; we are also blessed by serving God and serving others.

I personally would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to both the Southern Baptist Convention, and to Dr. Naomi Paget for your dedication to this mission and for providing resources, so we can do our best to be like Jesus.

About the Author

Chris Shipley
Chaplain, Disaster Relief

Chris is a NAMB-endorsed Disaster Relief chaplain and serves with California SBC Disaster Relief. He also supports his local church in both counseling and grocery distribution ministries. He has a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Pepperdine University. After an entrepreneurial career, he was blessed to retire in 2022 and live his new, self-described life mission of being "good for nothing." Chris lives with his wife, Cindi, in Southern California. He has three adult sons and two grandsons.

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