BEREA, Ky. (KT) — Volunteers with a Missouri Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team found respite in a Kentucky church on Sunday as they made their way to the hurricane-stricken Carolinas.
Bethel Baptist Church opened its Family Life Center on Sunday to a group 38 volunteers on their way to North Carolina to help victims of Hurricane Florence.
“This is a huge blessing,” said Missouri Baptist Wesley Hammond. “One of the members of the church purchased 30 pizzas to feed our team when we got in after 9 p.m.”
They stayed overnight Sunday, then departed for North Carolina Monday morning.
“We represent a group of churches from the state of Missouri,” said Hammond, who also serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris, Missouri. “We do these missions several times a year. Anytime there is a disaster, we have people who will go out and do ministry.”
Hammond said the group transported a feeding unit, laundry unit, shower unit and recovery unit to help support victims of the storm. Hammond said the recovery group also went in with chainsaws to clear fallen trees and shovels to clear houses of mud.
“We’ve also got a chaplaincy team and our instant command unit as well,” he said. “We basically go in and try to be self-sufficient. We’re taking our own generator in, and we will prepare the meals the Red Cross is feeding — the vast majority of them, in excess of 95 percent of them. We do most of their meal preparation for them.”
“We guarantee 15,000 meals per day with our equipment and the group that we’ve got with us,” Hammond said.
Hammond said there's no timetable for returning home and said the desire is to stay until the job is done."
"However, the job is never done when you talk about something like this," Hammond said. "We get it to the point basically where the local community is able to finish it up. That may be the time where we have to stop and pull out. We always stop when we want to, because it’s difficult to come to that point. As long as there is a need, we will get volunteers in. All of the people that we bring with us are volunteers and they’re not paid. As long as we can get people to do the work, we will be there.”
Hammond said the group wants to accomplish three things while providing disaster relief to hurting communities.
“We realize we need to give people hope because their lives have been turned upside down,” he said. “We want them to know that people still care. We also want to help bring healing to them in so many different ways, physically, spiritually and emotionally. We just want to help them. Hope, help and healing, that’s what we’re about.