Archive for the ‘Disaster Relief’ Category

Loss of possessions but increase of faith

October 14, 2009

Below is a blog post by Rand Jenkins who has been serving with the disaster relief team in Manila since Oct. 7.

Felicisimo and Marieta Cables and their neighbors have fewer possessions but greater faith in the wake of the flooding in Marikina City. Felicisimo is the bi-vocational pastor of Hope Baptist Church there and lives just a few blocks from the church.

Pastor Cables got a text message from his daughter that was intended for his wife. The text read, “Waters rising. Get on the roof. You’ll be safe.” After receiving this, Felicisimo rushed out of work and started home. By the time he got close to home, all routes had been blocked.

So he swam. He swam across 800 meters of raging flood water along with cars, bits of houses and countless possessions from hundreds and thousands of homes. He made it home, only to find their house full of water.

Marieta noticed the waters rising and was quite the resourceful and determined Philippine lady. First, she went to the second floor of their house. There the flood waters rose to her chest, and she began thinking of options. She sloshed her way to the upstairs front window and yelled to her neighbor on their third-story roof.

marieta cables and sonMarieta does not know how to swim. She climbed out of her window and onto the telephone pole that, at this point, still had live wires and then grabbed a rope thrown by the neighbor. Once on her own roof, she walked in water while holding tight to the rope until reaching the safety of her neighbor’s taller roof where they held a worship service praising God.

“I still have my family and my faith, which is what matters and what got me through this time,” said Pastor Cables. “One item I’d like to find is my favorite Bible,” he continued. “Missionary Bob Harwell, from Texas, gave me his in 1992 and it was filled with notes and encouragement. That Bible gave me the inspiration to finish seminary.

“The fact that people traveled so far to help us clean up is a great encouragement to me, our church and just simply reminds me of the salvation we have in Christ,” he added through tears.

One of the first projects of the Texas Baptist Men disaster response team sent through Baptist Global Response was to mud out the Cables’ house and a church across the street, not where he pastors.

“In talking with Felicisimo, I learned his story and that he lost a Bible that meant a great deal to him,” said Ernie Rice, Texas Baptist Men team leader. “So I gave him mine that Sunday when I preached in his church.”

While several of the volunteers led and attended area house churches in the area hit by flooding, four went with local missionaries to distribute food in some of the poorest of the poor areas. One of the stops on Oct. 11 was the first disaster relief the area had received since the September 26 typhoon. At this location seven people accepted the Lord.

Metro Manilla, made up of several cities, received a month’s worth of rain in one day of typhoon Ondoy after days of rain had already saturated the ground.

TBM is there serving at Baptist Global Response’s invitation and working with 20 other volunteers in mud out disaster relief alongside Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, Baptist Men of Kentucky and Baptist Men of Oklahoma. The TBM volunteers on the mission trip are Ernie Rice, Miguel Tello, Leo Vega, Harold Patterson, Bill Gresso, Jack Vawter, Russell Sheik, Rey Villanueva, Rand Jenkins and Stan Knight.

Texas Baptist Men to send a 10-person team to the Philippines for typhoon relief

October 6, 2009

Texas Baptist Men will deploy 10 men to the Philippines early in the morning on Wed., Oct. 7 to spend 10 days helping with relief work and teaching local people how to clean up the area in the aftermath of the flooding and landslides that took place in the last week.

Within the last week, the Philippine islands were hit by Typhoons Ketsana and Parma, causing water to rise more than 20 feet in some areas. At one point, 80 percent of Manila sat underwater. The National Disaster Coordinating Council reports that Ketsana caused 246 deaths in the Philippines and as well as 72 in Vietnam and nine in Cambodia. More than two million people have been affected by the storm.

 “Our mission is to equip and train local people in how to do the cleanup work,” said Dick Talley, Texas Baptist Men director of disaster relief.

The group includes team leader Ernie Rice of Stockdale, Bill Gresso of Garland, Stan Knight of Dallas, Harold Patterson of Scoggins, Russell Schieck of Lubbock, Mike Tello of Elsa, Larry Vawter of Altair, Leo Vega of Odessa, Rey Villanueva of Kenedy and Rand Jenkins of Mansfield.

The band of men will join with Baptist Global Response, Kentucky Baptist Men, Oklahoma Baptist Men and the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas to carry out various clean-up activities within the next two weeks.

“Imagine standing in two or three inches of muck and having to dig it out, remove furniture, remove personal belongings, decide what to save and what to throw out and then rinse off and sanitize what is left,” Talley said. “It is quite emotional for those who are going through it.”

The men hope to bring physical, emotional and spiritual help and restoration to the flood victims who are sitting in such a vulnerable state, Talley said. 

Texas Baptist Men disaster relief efforts are made possible through donations given to Texas Baptist Men and the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. To support the Philippine relief efforts through Texas Baptist Men, visit  and click on the Donations tab or mail a check marked for disaster response to Texas Baptist Men at 5351 Catron, Dallas, TX 75227. To give to the efforts through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation, visit and click on Disaster Response or send a check marked for disaster relief to the Texas Baptist Mission Foundation at 333 N. Washington, Dallas, TX 75246-1798.

Being Strategic

May 20, 2009

It was a rather normal day at the office but one that would cause me to ponder not only what I do but how I do it.  After 25 years in the ministry I’m moving toward a new perspective.  One that doesn’t focus so much on “success” but rather “being strategic.”  Here’s what got me thinking.

For seven months I was the Church2Church Missions Coordinator working with affected churches damaged by Hurricane Ike.  My role was to partner those who wanted to help with the affected churches.  A call came in one morning asking which affected churches could use a strong partner.  The helping church wanted to invest in a ministry that was strategic to its community.  With a prayer asking for God’s leadership, I began my work. 

A director of missions was most helpful by sending the names of the three most damaged churches in his association.  What caught my attention and stopped me dead in my tracks was his description of one church.  His words were something like this, “This church is strategic in our association because if we lose it, no one else ministers to drug addicts, prostitutes, and the desperately poor.”  He was honest in his description of the problems the church faced but it was those words, “This church is strategic” that caused me to ponder my own ministry.

My first thought was, “If my own church ceased to exist, would anyone notice?”  My second thought was, “What’s the difference between being busy and being strategic in our ministries?”  You see “strategic” means doing those things that gives you the advantage in reaching a desired end.  As I spent time in evaluation, I had to admit that much of what I’ve been about in the past is “busy” but not necessarily strategic because we didn’t seem that much closer to the end toward which we were aiming.

Texas Hope 2010 is the challenge before us and we must fill these days with strategic action, not just busy activity.  Praying for our state, caring for hungry people, and sharing the good news of Christ with over 23 million people by Resurrection Sunday 2010 is doable if we are strategic. 

Let’s all take a minute to consider the difference between being “successful” and “being strategic.”  Going forward my goal is one of strategic ministry.

Churches, ministers need help urgently

September 19, 2008

A note from Randel Everett:

Our churches need your help!

I have had the privilege to visit many of the sites throughout Texas that have been devastated by Hurricane Ike. Some had not yet recovered yet from Gustav. The need is great.

Many of our churches do not know when they will be able to return to their buildings. Can you imagine the loss of income to a church for weeks and possibly even months? Church members are displaced and many are without personal income. Some of our pastors and staff have already missed paychecks. Churches and institutions have sustained significant damage to buildings and property.

These storm ravaged communities are facing grief, frustrations and uncertainty about the future. How can we help?

— Prayer is our most important contribution and responsibility.

— Make financial contributions. The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 8:14, “at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need…” One of the most immediate needs is assistance for pastors and staff who have loss of income and significant expenses related to evacuation and personal loss.

— Create partnerships. Challenge your church to create a year-long partnership with one of the churches affected. The needs include encouragement, cleanup and repair, and financial assistance.

— Volunteer. Over 700 Texas Baptist Men have already responded feeding thousands and helping in numerous other ways. Dozens of our churches have become sites for evacuees.

Your contributions can be made on line at

For assistance and information about volunteering or creating a partnership for your church call 888.244.9400.

Texas Baptist churches have already been incredible in their responses. Let’s continue to work together in helping our brothers and sisters in need.

Randel Everett

Executive Director



BaptistWay Press offer for Ike sufferers

September 15, 2008

BaptistWay Press will replace literature destroyed or lost because of Hurricane Ike, BWP Publisher Ross West told me at lunch today. The replacement literature will be free if the church will simply pay for the shipping.

Some who need to receive this message may not have access to a computer right now. If you know of any church that may need to take advantage of this, please let them know as communication improves.

Disaster relief and longer term response has become a real calling card for Baptists in introducing ourselves to unchurched people. As Ross said to me, this is evangelism. We don’t just take care of our own, we reach out to all people in the name of Christ, providing the physical and spiritual care they need.

Being Baptist means loving God and loving people — and showing it.

Episcopalian in praise of TBM

May 15, 2008

David Fortenbury, of our BGCT staff, took a call this morning from a woman who identified herself as an Episcopalian. She wanted to give to Texas Baptist Men and its disaster relief. “I love the Texas Baptist Men and the Red Cross,” and then she said, “Why doesn’t the TBM ask us to give to them? We need to know what they need?”

It’s a reminder of three things.

First, others notice when you go about doing good in the name of Christ; and that’s a very good thing because some non-believers are watching in addition to the Episcopalians. Reminds me of the early church, which drew people to Christ because people could see the love they had for others.

Second, tell your non-Baptist friends they can support relief in the aftermath of disasters by giving to TBM’s disaster relief and the BGCT’s longer-term disaster response. The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation is a good way to make those gifts. The Episcopalian woman reminds us that not all believers have a ready-made way of meeting needs in the wake of disasters.

Third, TBM can respond well to disasters because the BGCT Cooperative Program budget provides much of the administrative budget for TBM.

A view from Piedras Negras, Mexico

April 26, 2007

6.jpgI spent much of today with Texas Baptist men and women who are ministering in the wake of two tornadoes that struck Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico.

The second storm devastated an 8-square block section of Piedras Negras. In the last few years, I’ve seen the aftermath of floods, tsunamis and hurricanes. I haven’t seen devastation like I saw in this part of Piedras Negras since I was walking along the shore of Sri Lanka where a tsunami left a village in rubble as far as the eye could see.

One BGCT employee ministering in Piedras Negras said the area looked “like a bomb exploded.” Another described it as looking like a “war zone.” Those descriptions are accurate. Trees are cut in two by sheet-metal. Cars have been flipped upside down and carried blocks over. Most of the houses have been destroyed. Days after the tornado hit, limbs still are strewn everywhere.

The residents of Piedras Negras continue talking about where they were when the tornado touched down. They’re processing what has happened by sharing their stories. Many people still seem to be shock, spending significant portions of their day trying to make sense of what happened.

In the midst of all the tragedy, Texas Baptists are ministering to the hurting. Texas Baptist Menvolunteers are providing thousands of free meals and cutting tree limbs. BGCT staff members are coordinating relief efforts and are bringing in trained counselors. Buckner is bringing in a load of clothing and food. A group of Baptist University of the Americas students spent Thursday counseling victims, praying with them and serving them food.

The recovery process will be a long one. I have no doubt that Texas Baptists will be part of that process in whatever ways they can. Please pray for Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass. Pray for those who are ministering there and those who God already is calling to serve in the area.

For photos from Piedras Negras, you can click here or on the link on the right sidebar of this blog.

West Texas hit by tornadoes

April 24, 2007

Tornadoes earlier this week have forced more than 450 people out of their homes. Some families’ homes are in ruins and some areas still do not have electricity. A water tower also was wiped out.

Texas Baptist Men volunteers from around the state are in the region ministering to people. They are feeding victims of the tornadoes and helping clear debris. Please pray for the victims of the storm and those who are ministering to them.

More from the story on the BGCT web site:

One of the first responders on the scene was Gerald Cook, who directs the Disaster Relief unit at Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo. Riding with police and fire officials, Cook helped assess the damage in both communities.

“Cactus was extremely devastated,” Cook said. “Some homes had walls down and roofs blown off and 63 homes were totally wiped out. People were trying to salvage what they could…though their homes were totally destroyed.”

Baptist men helping families victimized by flooding

April 6, 2007

For one mother and her paraplegic son, faith and muscle are working hand-in-hand to get them home by Easter.

Flooding caused by recent storms in Navarro County left Sherilon Lindsey’s home uninhabitable for her and her son, Andy. They are temporarily living with her daughter.

The Lindseys are one of more than 24 families who became victims when heavy rains caused creeks in the area to overflow. Floodwaters rose nearly one foot in many homes leaving damaged walls, doors, carpet and possessions.

Moving into the damaged homes are Texas Baptist Men volunteer disaster relief clean-out teams from across the state, including units from Collin Baptist Association, Central Texas Baptist Area, Ellis Baptist Association and Sabine Neches Baptist Area.

“Not all of our volunteers are trained to do clean-out, but we do have a group of volunteers who are experienced in clean-out who do know what to do,” said Gary Smith, director of TBM Disaster Relief.  “There is a narrow window of opportunity we have to get the clean-out done in. That’s the biggest challenge.”

Duane Bechtold, director of TBM’s Collin Baptist Association unit, arrived April 4 to help lead the operation. He delivered a trailer full of clean-out equipment including electric saws, wheelbarrows, shovels and carpet knives for volunteer efforts.

Sherilon’s home was one of the worst damaged so crews had to pack up furniture and other belongings, and move everything to a safe place before starting clean-out operations.

“We first go in and remove damaged sheetrock, wet carpets and other damaged items like wood floor segments,” said Steve Lamb, director of disaster relief of TBM’s Central Texas Baptist Area unit.

Trained TBM volunteers then move in to tackle the bacteria-laden environment.

“We pressure wash everything inside the house to remove dirt, mud and debris.” Bechtold said. “Then we use hand-operated hose sprayers to sanitize the house with a commercial grade disinfectant to kill bacteria, mold and mildew

Before clean-out began, Bechtold and Lamb assessed and prioritized damages. In some cases, they found that if water got into homes at any depth at all, residents lost furniture, appliances and other possessions, Lamb said. Most of the residents impacted are living with friends and family members until their homes can be cleaned out and repaired. With more rain in the forecast, there is concern more families could soon need help.

The group’s disaster relief operation is headquartered at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Corsicana where Red Cross is providing food for volunteers, Lamb noted.

TBM called to Missouri

February 20, 2007

Texas Baptist Men disaster relief volunteers have been called to serve again. Read about it here.

These men and women provide a powerful ministry, meeting people at their point of need. Please pray for them as they serve in an area hit hard by snow.

For more information about how to serve in TBM’s disaster relief efforts, call 888.244.9400.