85,000 in tornado cleanup

By May 29, 2013

USA (MNN) — Last week, a mother mourned the loss of her child–one of many casualties–in the EF5 tornado that struck Oklahoma, according to Baptist Press News.

There to embrace the grieving mother was Susan "Bunny" Yekzaman, a DR chaplain from First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

"I'm here to walk through this with you," said Yekzaman.

The mother responded, "I don't think I can walk; I'm going to have to crawl."

"Then I'll crawl with you," Yekzaman said as the two fell to their knees.

An army of 85,000 volunteers was sent by the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) to help with cleanup in stricken Oklahoma communities, Baptist Press News reports. In addition, Oklahoma’s SBDR kitchen has prepared 32,000 meals.

"I like to tell our team that they're short-term missionaries," said Joe Henond of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. "That's what they are. We're here for a short period of time, but we're missionaries just like the people overseas. It allows people to come and do work and let their work be their testimony."

According to Baptist Press News, SBDR volunteers are in 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation.

Many lost and damaged items can be replaced. But other things like personal memorabilia can’t be brought back. Most shattering is the loss of loved ones.

"The people going through this are so devastated that they need to see a ray of hope," Henond said. "When they can see that ray of hope and we're doing what we're doing for Jesus' sake, the Holy Spirit is going to work."

"The focus today is getting teams into the affected area, getting our yellow shirts on the ground," said Eddie Blackmon, the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) disaster relief coordinator. "90% of the jobs will be debris removal. We're going to assist families in getting to their personal items as best we can."

NAMB partners with 42 state Baptist conventions to coordinate Southern Baptist disaster relief responses. SBDR is right up there with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army in bringing trained aid volunteers to disaster situations in the United States.

Pray for the cleanup efforts in Oklahoma. Pray for Christ’s compassion and healing to touch many lives.

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