Baptist chaplains minister at Moore elementary schools

Meredith Flynn —  May 24, 2013
Teddy bears will find their way to children who survived the EF5 tornado that devastated part of Moore, Okla., May 20.  Photo by John Swain, North American Mission Board

Teddy bears will find their way to children who survived the EF5 tornado that devastated part of Moore, Okla., May 20.
Photo by John Swain, North American Mission Board

NEWS | Joe Conway, North American Mission Board

Within hours of the deadly EF5 tornado striking Moore, Okla., Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chaplains were ministering to families at both elementary schools destroyed by the storm. Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter said response needs will continue for weeks.

“Paul Bettis is leading our chaplain team,” said Porter. “They were on the ground at the schools with the families as they were searching for their children. Paul was involved in several official notification visits, as well.”

Porter said security in the affected area remains tight, but feeding and laundry units are already serving. As of lunch on Wednesday, Oklahoma SBDR volunteers had already prepared more than 9,100 meals and made 269 ministry contacts. Oklahoma SBDR has 105 volunteers engaged.

“We will need clean up assistance for four to five weeks at a minimum,” said Porter. “Because of the nature of the storms there will not be a lot of chainsaw work, but the debris clean up will be big.”

Fritz Wilson, executive director for Disaster Relief at the North American Mission Board said a multi-state response is expected in support of Oklahoma SBDR efforts. Wilson said he expects to see crews working in the affected areas this weekend.

“Our prayers are certainly with the people of Moore, and all of the affected areas,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “Oklahoma Baptists have one of the best disaster relief teams in North America.”

Wilson asked Southern Baptists to continue to pray for survivors and volunteers, and to give to the efforts to help sustain the ministry. He also asked Southern Baptists to remember the SBDR volunteers and the survivors they are serving in other parts of Oklahoma, in Texas and in Missouri, all as a result of the two days of storms, May 19 and 20.

“The prayers, support and concern of Southern Baptists has been overwhelming,” said Porter. “Don’t stop praying.”

To donate to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts in Oklahoma, go to NAMB.net.

Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.