Is Disaster Relief our “Best Kept Secret?”

CSBCDR Volunteers looking at a burned house

Is Disaster Relief our “Best Kept Secret?”

Is Disaster Relief our “Best Kept Secret?”

It has been a busy year for the California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry (CSBDRM). Over the span of just 12 months, your state convention has mobilized disaster relief teams to offer help, hope, and healing to communities affected by disaster across California, including San Diego, Merced, Mariposa, Auburn, and Colfax. Our commitment to aiding those in need has extended beyond state lines, with deployments to help after flooding in Coldspring, Texas, and to provide support in Guam following Typhoon Mawar. We’ve also offered hope in Hawaii following the Lahaina fires and reached out to Moldova to bring healing to refugees affected by the Russian/Ukraine conflict.

As I write, we’re preparing for two upcoming deployments. Additionally, we’ve conducted or attended training sessions in Fresno, Oceanside, San Diego, San Jose, Oakhurst, and Albuquerque, with nearly 200 individuals trained to better their readiness to serve others in times of crisis. We’re excited about upcoming training sessions scheduled in Clovis, Santa Maria, and Reno (see below for details).

Our state’s Executive Director, Dr. Pete Ramirez, recently shared with our CSBC family a God-sized vision to see 2% of our state’s population, approximately 900,000 people, being discipled in California Southern Baptist Churches by 2033. CSBDR works through local churches, extending help, hope, and healing to those affected by disasters for the purpose of transforming lives and communities through the Gospel. We are committed to partnering with local congregations to impact their communities for Christ. Our commitment doesn’t end there. We also equip volunteers to serve as Christ served, to love as Jesus loved, and to share their faith with those they encounter, fulfilling the call to make disciples within their communities.

As I have considered this God-sized vision, God gave me a different perspective on a comment made to me a few months ago. Following a presentation I gave about CSBC Disaster Relief to a church, the pastor told me:

“Disaster Relief is the best kept secret in the CSBC.”

Initially, I was offended. We are not a secret. A few years ago, Rebecca Wolford and Andy Beachum wrote an article in SBCLIFE entitled “Disaster Relief: The Public Face of the Southern Baptist Convention.”   So, how is it that California Southern Baptists are only now learning about their army of gold-shirts serving the Golden State, our nation, and the entire world?  

However, as I reflect further, I am encouraged that we are “the best kept secret in the CSBC,” in relation to this God-sized vision. It’s a reminder that even with relatively limited awareness, God is accomplishing remarkable work through our Disaster Relief ministry. Just think of the potential when churches across California become fully aware of the incredible work He’s doing through CSBDR. I can’t wait to see how he uses this ministry, in partnership with local churches in California, to reach over 900,000 people in this state with the hope that comes from knowing Jesus.

I have been so grateful for the unwavering support we’ve received from our churches. Each one of you has demonstrated faithfulness through your prayers, provision of resources, and the sending of volunteers. It’s through your collective commitment that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus following disasters.

For those who may not be aware, all of our volunteers bear the cost of their travel to the incident site. However, thanks to the support of our churches, we can provide essential materials, tools, heavy equipment, food, and showers for each volunteer. Furthermore, your generosity often allows us to alleviate the financial burden of travel for our dedicated volunteers. Your support not only enables us to provide these necessities but also ensures that our volunteers can answer the call to serve without undue financial strain.

Please continue to pray for us. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @CSBCDR, and if the Lord leads you to support this God-sized vision and disaster relief financially, you can give to California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief here. Or, if He is calling you to join our team, you can attend one of our upcoming trainings.

  • Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis on July 20th,
  • Lifeway Fellowship in Santa Maria on August 8th, and
  • FAITH Ministry in Reno, NV, on September 20-21. 

I am always amazed at the generosity of God’s people. It’s incredible to witness volunteers stepping forward, willingly bearing the financial burden of their travel expenses, and then to see churches and individuals rally around them, offering support. It is truly something special to see the Church function as a healthy body of believers to advance God’s Kingdom throughout California and to the ends of the earth.

About the Author

Kendrick Neal
Director, California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Kendrick is a former Marine who after 13 years of service, resigned his commission to serve a faith-based organization serving in closed and hazardous locations around the world. In 2013 Kendrick accept a call to be an Executive Pastor in San Diego and connected with CSBDR where he also served as a San Diego Police Chaplain. In 2017 Kendrick became the lead pastor at Calvary Church West Hills. In 2023, the Executive Board elected Kendrick as the new Director for California Disaster Relief.

Kendrick has a Master of Arts and Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA and is currently working on his DMin through Gateway Seminary. He and his high school sweetheart, Melissa, have been married for 21 years, and they have three children, Isaac, Selah, and Max.

More About Kendrick Neal
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