Tennessee Baptists Prepare To Help In Louisiana

Photo: NOAA.gov

Photo: NOAA.gov

Slow-moving storms are causing record flooding and significant damage as they move across South Louisiana. Thousands of residents have evacuated, at least three people have died and there is significant property damage and loss to more than 50,000 homes. At least three interstates are closed by the flooding of the Amite River and much of Louisiana State University’s campus is covered by water.

The rising water is the result of more than 27 inches of rainfall over a 36-hour period near the city of Baker, just northeast of Baton Rouge. Continue reading

FORMER TBC STAFFER MIKE OVERCASH DIES

By Lonnie Wilkey, Editor
Baptist and Reflector

Mike Overcash

Mike Overcash

BRENTWOOD – Retired Tennessee Baptist Convention staff member and long-time disaster relief volunteer Mike Overcash died June 8 following an apparent heart attack.

Overcash, 80, a former employee of LifeWay Christian Resources who served several Tennessee Baptist churches as minister of music, was on the staff of the TBC from 1995-2001 as computer services specialist and as interim director of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief in 2015. Continue reading

DR Teams Called Out

BRENTWOOD — Ten­ne­ssee  Bap­tist  Disaster  Re­­­lief volunteers have been asked to respond in the wake of deadly storms and flooding that occurred across the nation during the Christmas holidays.

As of Jan. 4, 11 states had Southern Baptist Disaster Relief vol­unteers serving at min­­is­try sites in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisian­a, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

“The lives of so many families and communities are forever changed,” observed Mickey Caison, interim executive director of SBDR.

Wes   Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Con­vention, reported that a Tennessee team led by Gary Cate of Knox County Baptist Association served last week at First Baptist Church in Yukon, Okla., helping cut up downed trees.

Jones said Missouri Baptists have asked for mud out teams to assist residents affected by flooding in the state.

He noted three teams were scheduled to leave over the weekend to travel to Elmore, Mo. In addition, five groups of assessors are traveling to Missouri to assist, Jones added.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, call 615-371-7927.

DR Concludes in SC, Travels to TX

MOUNT JULIET — Just after concluding five weeks of work helping flood victims in South Carolina following Hurricane Joaquin, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers traveled to south Texas to help flood victims there.

One great result was that the first day they served, Tennessee Baptists saw two people make professions of faith, reported Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist, Tennessee Baptist Convention.

The team of eight are serving in Weslaco, Texas, near the border with Mexico doing mud out just like most Tennessee Baptist DR volunteers did in South Carolina, said Jones.

The team is led by Bill Sartain of Nolachucky Baptist Association, based in Morristown. They will serve about a week. The team left Nov. 14.

Jones said he doesn’t know at this time if any other Tennessee DR teams will respond to the needs in Texas.

For more information on Tennessee Baptist DR, contact Jones at 615-371-7927 or wjones@tnbaptist.org.

First Flood Recovery Team Deployed for SC

Please pray for our teams as they serve in South Carolina. Carolyn Watson will leading our first flood recovery team from the Cumberland Baptist Association. They will be leaving Sunday for SC. Their team will be serving with the North Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief.  (In order to serve, you must be currently credentialed with the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief.)

In the meantime, prepare yourselves in case we are called upon.  Check over your equipment and supplies. Most of all, prepare yourselves spiritually to be called upon and pray for our brothers and sisters in South Carolina that God will use this disaster to bring honor to Him and many will be drawn to Him.

If you would like to contribute financially, make a contribution online, or make your check payable to: Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. Mail it to: P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024-0728. Mark on the check for SC Hurricane Relief.

Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina

NAMB: Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slammed into Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi coast. The deadly storm became the most expensive natural disaster in United States history. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were among the first to respond to the need. This video looks back at how they served and how the lessons learned still shape Southern Baptist relief efforts today.

 

 

DR Volunteers Serve Tornado Victims

150817tornado

Roscoe England of Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, cuts a damaged tree in the Sweetwater/Tellico Plains area.

from the Baptist & Reflector:

SWEETWATER — As Kenny Witt, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer of Madisonville, drove down a rural road near Sweetwater by homes and property, he saw more trees damaged by the tornado and storms which struck Monroe County July 14. He stopped at a house which had downed trees but didn’t find anyone home. Witt went further down the road to the next house and found the owner of the previous house was there staying with her mother-in-law because she was expecting a baby soon.

The lady quickly accepted the help Witt offered, signing the required forms.

The next day Lou Mulsand of Knoxville and a team of DR volunteers from Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, arrived at the lady’s house. Mulsand and Tom Freels of Sevier Heights went to introduce themselves and learned more of her story.

She was scheduled to have a baby the next day but couldn’t ride in her car to the hospital because a tree — “a four footer,” according to Mulsand, — blocked the driveway.

Freels told Mulsand and Witt that they had to get that driveway opened up that day so she could get to the hospital tomorrow.

A team of about eight volunteers did just that, the men reported.

The volunteers working two days later learned that the lady had delivered a son and both were well.

“The timing just worked out perfectly on that,” said Witt.

Mulsand noted, “It’s not a coincidence that we go to certain homes.”

About 26 Baptist DR workers have served beginning July 16 in the Sweetwater and Tellico Plains area where they found and completed about 50 jobs. The work is still continuing.

The storm did damage in an area about 20 miles long, stretching from the west side of Tellico Plains to the east side of Sweetwater.

Mulsand, director of disaster relief for Knox County Baptist Association, whose crews worked in the area seven days as of Aug. 5 and planned to return with a team on Aug. 8, said they also saw a man rededicate his life to Christ and a lot of older ladies helped. Many of the ladies would say upon meeting the DR workers that God had answered their prayers, he added.

Witt said besides helping the expectant lady another incident stood out to him. He was visiting with a homeowner they were helping. The man looked at all the damage on his property and said, “Kenny, you think you’ve seen the power of God when you look at all of this, but you really see the power of God when you see neighbors helping neighbors.”

Finally, Witt said they helped a family whose home was basically destroyed by trees falling on it so they had moved in with their son. In the area three or four homes were destroyed by the storm. The DR workers removed a tree to allow them to access items from their house.

Two groups of DR volunteers stayed and worked for five days — from Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville, and Holston Baptist Association, based in Johnson City. They were housed by Fairview Baptist Church, Sweetwater. Tony Rutherford, director of missions, Sweetwater Baptist Association, helped make these arrangements as well as delivering lunch and water provided by the association and individuals to volunteers.

DR workers also served from Sweetwater Association; Hamilton County Baptist Association, based in Chattanooga; Knox County Association; and Nolachucky Baptist Association, based in Morristown.

Mulsand said he was amazed at the work ethic of the volunteers who worked all day, only stopping to move to another job, and despite heat and humidity that “was just brutal.”

God also provided people who were very skilled on the equipment, said Mulsand. For instance, Arlin Phillips of First Baptist Church, Tellico Plains, was very good because he was in the logging business nearly all of his life.

No federal government aid is available to residents because the tornado was not ruled to be bad enough, reported Rutherford.

All of the damage on private property is up to the homeowners to repair and the work is very expensive, said Rutherford.

“We’re just really grateful and our community is just really grateful for all the work that has been done. The people here needed help,” he stated.

TBC Names New Disaster Relief Leader

Wes Jones

BRENTWOOD, Tenn.— The Executive Board Ministry Staff of the Tennessee Baptist Convention has named a long-time disaster relief and ministry veteran to lead its state disaster relief effort. The appointment culminates a nearly one-year national search process.

Wesley A. Jones, a former state disaster relief leader in Iowa and former International Mission Board missionary in Guatemala, was chosen to fill the role of Disaster Relief Specialist. The announcement of Jones’ hiring comes after disaster relief veteran, David Acres, retired last September. Jones is scheduled to be in his role with the TBC Sept. 1, 2015. Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has been led by interim leader and retired TBC employee, Mike Overcash, since Acre’s retirement.

“We are very excited to have Wes joining our team and serving Tennessee Baptists in this role,” said Randy C. Davis, executive director/treasurer of the Executive Board ministries. “He brings a great deal of experience to the position. Our Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who love to both serve and share the gospel. We wanted to find someone who shared that same passion, and we believe Wes does.”

Jones is a native of Virginia and graduated from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. He also received his Master’s of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kan. He has served as a pastor and he, and wife, Pam, served overseas as church planters with the IMB in Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala. Since 2002, Jones has been a Director of Missions and most recently held the position of Missional Church Planting Catalyst. He became heavily involved in disaster relief while in Iowa, earning certifications in National Incident Command Training (White Hat), S.P.H.E.R.E. (trained through Baptist Global Response), Chaplain Training, National Incident Management System Training (100, 200, 700, 800 A/B), Unit Supervisor Training (Blue Hat), SBDR Disaster Assessment Training, Introduction to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (Yellow Hat), Chainsaw Training and Chainsaw Safety Training.

Since 2013, Jones has been a member of the National Disaster Relief Steering Committee of the North American Mission Board and also a member of NAMB’s National Incident Command Team since 2006.

“It is an honor to be selected to serve as the Disaster Relief Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention,” Jones said. “Nobody ever wants to see a disaster hit, but it is good to know that when they do, Southern Baptists are there to respond. I am excited to see what God will continue to do through the continued work of Tennessee Disaster Relief volunteers.”

 

DR Trailer Stolen in Oklahoma, Found

trailer_stolen_returnedfrom the Baptist and Reflector

LAWTON, Okla. — A trailer being used by a Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief team serving here June 23 was stolen and then found unharmed and intact that evening. The reporting of KSWO-TV Channel 7 and a lot of prayers were the keys to the recovery, reported Doyle Pittman, director of the team.

The trailer was stolen from First Baptist Church West in Lawton overnight as the team slept at the church. Thankfully a viewer of the reporting by the TV station saw the trailer which was picked up by the team.
Pittman, a member of Red Bank Baptist Church, Red Bank, near Chattanooga, said the nine-member Tennessee team went ahead and worked yesterday after making the discovery. Thankfully they were able to use equipment from Oklahoma already at the church. Pittman also is DR director for Hamilton County Baptist Association, based in Chattanooga.

The team was providing flood recovery to residents.

The trailer, owned by Red Bank Baptist, was insured but it was filled with equipment including equipment owned by team members. Pittman estimated everything was worth about $12,000.

“This was totally out of our control and we just had to trust God to give it (the trailer) back to us,” said Pittman.

“Everyone had a good attitude about it and didn’t get angry. We were able to work and even accomplish two jobs.”

“Everyone … was surprised at and shocked that the Lord did this. Of course, we had many people praying and God answered those prayers,” said Pittman.

The team plans to return to Tennessee June 28.

DR Teams Needed to Work in Nepal

Help_Nepal_red_markerfrom the Baptist & Reflector:

BRENTWOOD — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is looking for volunteers to serve with Baptist Global Response in Nepal.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country in late April, killing thousands of people. Millions of people were affected and hundreds of thousands of homes were either demolished or rendered uninhabitable.

Baptist Global Response was on site within 48 hours and is now looking at a long-term response.

BGR cautions potential volunteers that the “workplace environment will be very rugged. There is limited infrastructure due to the widespread disaster and intensity of the disaster. Volunteers will need to be in excellent physical condition to join a team.”

According to BGR, projects will be mostly general labor oriented and will include, but not be limited to, housing construction, water systems, debris removal, latrine construction, institution recovery construction, medical clinics, and other needs as found by assessment teams.

Mike Overcash, interim Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief director, said interested teams need to contact the North American Mission Board directly at sbdr_logistics@namb.net.

He noted two teams from East Tennessee have expressed an interest in responding to the needs in Nepal and that he expects additional teams to follow suit.

The Tennessee Baptist Convention is still accepting cash donations to help send volunteers to Nepal, Overcash said.
Contributions can be made online at www.tnbaptist.org/pymt/dr2015nepal.htm or by check designated “Nepal” and mailed to Tennessee Baptist Convention, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024.