Archives For Hurricane Sandy

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The North American Mission Board has coordinated a clean-up effort in the Northeast for almost one full year, since the super storm swept through New Jersey and New York. Watch the video below for how Southern Baptist volunteers have helped in the region, and click here for more information about how to help, including Christmas and Spring Break opportunities for college students.

Mohler bridges divide at BYU
Christians and Mormons “inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds,” Al Mohler told an audience at Brigham Young University. But the Southern Seminary president added the two groups should work together to address threats to religious liberty, Baptist Press reports.

“I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences,” Mohler said in his lecture, part of the Mormon university’s “Faith, Family and Society” series. Christians and Mormons must together “push back against this age as hard as it is pressing against us,” Mohler said. “We had better press hard, for this age is pressing ever harder against us.” Read the full story at

Life is complicated, most say
Two-thirds of all adults say life is getting more complicated, and 71% of evangelicals agree. The findings by Barna may indicate evangelicals and Catholics – 71% of whom also agreed – are recognizing “a growing disparity between the rhythms and values of their faith and the demands of a rapidly changing culture,” the researchers analyzed. Read more about Barna’s “three trends redefining the information age” here.

Conference examines C.S. Lewis’ popularity in America
Author C.S. Lewis was more celebrated here than in his own country, say the organizers of a one-day conference at Wheaton College. To mark the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death, the college is hosting “C.S. Lewis and American Culture,” a one-day seminar featuring speakers on a variety of Lewis-related topics. For more information about the conference, click here. And recently published a really interesting profile of Lewis’ wife marriage to Joy Davidman. Read it here.

bar_chart_BarnaTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Temptation is an age-old problem. But even it isn’t immune to new challenges posed by the digital age. A new study by Barna Research found 44% Americans admit to being tempted by the decidedly “digital” sin of spending too much time on media, like the Internet, video games and television.

Other technological temptations also beckoned respondents, including viewing pornography or sexually inappropriate content (18%), and reacting angrily via text message or e-mail (11%).

The study, done in conjunction with publisher Thomas Nelson for the new book “Our Favorite Sins,” asked more than 1,000 online respondents about which sins tempt them. Barna then grouped their answers into categories like “new temptations,” “old temptations,” and “particularly Western temptations,” which includes the sins of procrastinating, worrying, and being lazy.

Only the temptations to procrastinate (60%), worry (60%), or eat too much (55%) were more prevalent than spending too much time on media distractions. Spending too much money was also a temptation for 44% of respondents.

Go to for more.

Other news:

Stanley responds to inauguration sermon criticism
Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley drew fire when he called President Obama the “pastor in chief” during a pre-inauguration sermon for the President, his family and advisors. But the title came as a result of the President’s actions following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Stanley told Christianity Today.

Chicagoland pastor will run coast to coast for clean water
Steve Spear, a regional campus pastor for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., quit his job earlier this year to get a running start on a project that will provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for 30,000 Kenyans. Beginning in April, Spear will run the 3,000-mile span between the U.S. east and west coasts in a fundraising endeavor sponsored by World Vision. Read more at

NewYork_DR_page4_0128Illinois students help Staten Islanders start fresh after Hurricane Sandy
Collegiate volunteers spent part of their winter break on a whirlwind trip to New York, where residents are still deep in recovery mode after last fall’s super storm. Read the full story in the January 28 issue of the Illinois Baptist.

Cynthia Barbee from Maplewood Park Baptist Church in Cahokia, Ill., washes dishes in a Disaster Relief kitchen trailer stationed on Staten Island, N.Y.

THE BRIEFING | Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed after Hurricane Sandy have prepared more than 1.2 million meals for families affected by the super storm. The volunteers also have assisted with chainsaw and mudout jobs, and have reported 56 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry. Next on the horizon: The North American Mission Board will coordinate church-to-church partnerships in the region and will mobilize student volunteers for long-term ministry and service in the Northeast. Read more at

Other news:

84 new missionaries commissioned by IMB
The International Mission Board appointed 84 new missionaries Nov. 15 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. Among them: a former deer meat processor, a doctor, a nanny and a nurse. They’re going to the ends of the earth not to settle down, but to press forward to the ends of the earth, said IMB President Tom Elliff. Read more at

Most voters support traditional marriage
Despite victories by gay marriage supporters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota on Election Day, a majority of voters nationwide still believe marriage is between one man and one woman, according to a new survey by the Polling Company. The research found that 60% of voters in this year’s election agreed that “marriage is between one man and one woman.” Of those surveyed, 34% disagreed with the statement. Read more about the survey at

Barna launches Hispanic research division
Barna Research has launched a new division and web page to focus on trends among Hispanics. The site,, currently includes articles and infographics specifically related to the Hispanic population’s views on marriage, family and youth. For example, Barna found 66% of Hispanics agree with a traditional definition of marriage, and 60% agree that sex should take place within the context of marriage. For more findings, go to

LifeWay launches new digital resources
To keep up with the growing demand for digital content and mobile-ready resources, LifeWay Christian Resources has launched a new ebookstore and mobile ebook reader app. The free LifeWay Reader app allows users to build a digital library, access some previously purchased LifeWay content, and link quickly to Bible references in their books. The app also comes with a free pre-loaded copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Read more at

HEARTLAND | Excerpted from Baptist Press

Thanksgiving in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has prompted new reflections on life and faith among those who were impacted and those who came to their aid:

“God used the fury and destruction of Hurricane Sandy to give this pastor, our church, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and others the opportunity to walk the talk, get outside the walls of the church and be Jesus to those in need,” said Don Knotts, pastor of Wayside Southern Baptist Church in Buckhannon, W.Va. His church hosted Southern Baptist feeding units in the aftermath of a crippling snowstorm connected to the hurricane.

“This year as we give thanks to God for His many blessings, many West Virginians, me included, will remember things often taken for granted. Things like electricity, hot water, hot meals and the people who work hard to make sure we have them. And a special thanks for selfless volunteers who came to minister, in the name of Jesus, in a time of great need.”


“… We live in a community that often appears to have no real tangible needs. By in large, people in our community have what they need and more,” Sterling Edwards, pastor of Ecclesia Church of East Islip and Crossroads Church in Farmingdale, wrote. “People in our community work hard. They fight to make ends meet. But all in all, the majority of people in our community are quite comfortable.

“So when something like Hurricane Sandy comes along, it reveals a vulnerability. It reveals that there are needs. But this storm has provided us an opportunity to share with our community that food, shelter, clothes and gasoline are not the only needs that we have. We have been able to share that Jesus Christ has met our absolute greatest need.”


Ray Parascando, pastor of Crossroads Church on Staten Island, was among the first responders in a community hit particularly hard by the hurricane. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I’ve been reminded how easy it is to take for granted the comforts of home like food, electricity and phone. More impactful is the sobering realization that every day of life which God gives is truly a gift,” Parascando wrote to Baptist Press.

“In just one wave, everything that is dear to your heart: people, possessions and property can be destroyed. These are facts that all of us know well but these same facts easily get lost in the grind of life. I’ve been challenged once again to make every day count and to wisely number my days with family, friends and the faith.

“Thanksgiving this year will be more significant than in past years for sure. I’ve been convicted to live with an attitude of gratitude regardless of the many storms that life may bring my way.”

For more Hurricane Sandy reflections, go to

Editor’s note: The IBSA Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting begins today, November 13, in Decatur, Ill. Check back here for updates, or follow along on and

THE BRIEFING | Two teams of Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are serving now in the hurricane-ravaged Northeast U.S. IBSA’s Rex Alexander reported that a flood recovery team from Three Rivers Association is serving in the hard-hit North Oyster Bay area of Long Island, where they’ll assist with mudout and chainsaw projects.

A feeding team of 31 people from Illinois also is in New York this week, serving on Staten Island. The team, representing 21 Illinois churches and 14 local associations, will replace a Kentucky Baptist team and use that state’s kitchen trailer already in place.

“I was very encouraged that we put together such a large team in about two days when we were asked to replace the Kentucky volunteers,” Alexander said. He’s already received a request to be ready to replace the team with more volunteers next week.

The Illinois workers join a strong Disaster Relief response that’s been at work in New York and New Jersey since immediately after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. Southern Baptist volunteers have provided 670,000 meals so far, and leaders are preparing for an extended, multi-faceted response, said national DR coordinator Fritz Wilson.

“Although we’ve been told by New York officials that some of our kitchen operations may consolidate in the state, they told us to expect to continue providing meals into December,” Wilson told Baptist Press.

Close to 900 Southern Baptist volunteers from 27 states and Canada continued to provide ministry with shower trailers, mud-out and clean-up crews, and home repairs. Wilson is providing leadership from the New York and New Jersey incident command centers hosted by Raritan Valley Baptist Church in Edison, N.J. A second NAMB mobile incident command center is in transit to the church.

The Sandy response will also include childcare provided by Disaster Relief volunteers, with units en route from Ohio and South Carolina. Planning continues to allow college students to use their holiday breaks to voluntarily serve in the affected areas.

For more on the Disaster Relief response to Hurricane Sandy, go to

-With information from Baptist Press

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

As Americans (at least, those who didn’t vote early) head to the polls, here’s a sampling of the latest politics news and commentary:

CNN’s Belief Blog looks at the faith of both presidential candidates – how they’ve been shaped by their beliefs, and how their faith has been shaped by the campaign. President Barack Obama’s spiritual advisors say his time as president has “significantly deepened his faith,” according to CNN, while former Governor Mitt Romney has faced questions about his Mormon faith for his entire political career. Click on the links to read both stories, or go to

Southern Seminary President Al Mohler shares specific ways to pray for the country and its future president today.

Christianity Today calls 2012 “the year of the personal endorsement,” citing numerous evangelical leaders who have spoken publicly in favor of a particular candidate. Billy Graham, Richard Land, and more than 1,500 pastors voiced their preferences this year, even as a Pew Forum survey found two-thirds of Americans believe church leaders should not endorse candidates. Read the full story.

Amidst the politics, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy continues to cause big trouble on the East Coast. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers are among those working to help meet basic needs for thousands of people displaced by the storm. As of Friday, November 2, more than 450 volunteers from nine Baptist state conventions were working in at least six states affected by the storm, including a chainsaw team of Illinois Baptists serving in New Jersey. Read the latest on the relief effort at

Baptist Press | In an unprecedented move for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, all large capacity mobile kitchens in the fleet east of the Rocky Mountains have been asked to mobilize in response to Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to begin preparing a minimum of 400,000 meals a day by Monday, Nov. 5.

“As we worked through the planning and continued to receive reports about the need, the conviction came on me that Southern Baptists need to step out in faith and mobilize now,” said North American Mission Board Disaster Relief executive director Fritz Wilson. “I contacted [NAMB] president Kevin Ezell and shared the conviction of our area command team and he agreed.”

On Thursday NAMB trustees authorized the entity to cover the travel expense for state conventions that needed the assistance in mobilizing their DR teams to the region. During the height of SBDR response to Hurricane Katrina, volunteers prepared 425,000 meals per day.

On Thursday SBDR volunteers from Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina were serving in New York and New Jersey, along with volunteers from the affected states. SBDR volunteers from those states and the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Maryland-Delaware, New England, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and West Virginia were preparing up to 150,000 meals and were working with chainsaw and recovery units.

The New York Baptist convention’s kitchen was on its way to Staten Island where volunteers will begin serving meals Friday. “Staten Island is a high priority,” said NAMB DR response coordinator Eddie Blackmon, who is stationed at national American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Area response commander Mark Gauthier, mobilization director for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, said the feeding response is in waves. “We currently have units engaged in the response,” Gauthier said. “When you consider we are only 72 hours into the response there is a lot of ministry taking place.

“The next wave is the units on the road now from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina. They will be serving meals on Saturday. Then units will arrive ready to cook on Sunday. Another group will be ready to serve on Monday,” Gauthier said.

“I was highly convicted that we needed to be there,” Oklahoma DR director Sam Porter said. “We must be there. This can have an impact on church planting throughout the Northeast.”

New video of a North Carolina feeding unit at Rutgers University is available for download at Kevin Ezell released a video on the SBDR response to Sandy this week. The video may be downloaded at

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through a partnership between NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief programs.

SBDR assets include 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

To give Disaster Relief donations through the Illinois Baptist State Association online, go to IBSA’s Donate page. To give by check:

IBSA Disaster Relief
P.O. Box 19247
Springfield, IL 62794-9247
Payable to: Illinois Baptist State Association

THE BRIEFING | Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast early this week, killing 40 people in the region (and more than 60 others in the Caribbean), and desolating some of the nation’s largest cities.

In New York, the storm flooded subway stations and forced a two-day closure of the New York Stock Exchange. As the wind and rain subsided, pastors began the work in checking in with their church members, hoping for good news and looking for ways to help.

Freeman Field, on staff at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, reported damage to one New York City church, Graffiti Church on the Lower East Side, and said others are still calling in with reports.

“…We are still hearing from our pastors about needs…. We know of two families specifically who had their apartments flooded out – one in Brooklyn from Park Slope Community Church, the other in Jersey City from Gallery Church,” Field wrote to Baptist Press in an email. Read the full story.

Other Hurricane Sandy news:

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief starts long-term relief effort on East Coast
(Baptist Press)

What Jesus might say about Sandy
(Christianity Today)