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That late spring Sunday afternoon was probably like most.  Nothing special.   But when the sirens sounded on May 22, 2011, the people of Joplin had no idea of what was coming their way.  The Joplin tornado stands as the most powerful tornado ever recorded.  Reaching a width of nearly one mile, with winds in excess of 200mph, leaving a trail of more than 160 people dead, and damages in excess of $3 billion, it was also the costliest in history.   How do survivors of such a traumatic event recover and move forward?

The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) has teams across the country, of which, Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief is a part.  The organization works with several agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The American Red Cross (ARC), and state and local first responders to help the community rebuild and the people recover.  SBDR team members are well recognized by their distinctive yellow hats and shirts.   

You may ask, “how, specifically, do they do that?”  I’m glad you asked.

The list of jobs is long, but let me list a few and provide some details:

  • Food preparation and distribution. Cook, hand out, clean up and start again.
  • Chainsaw crews clear trees and other major obstacles after tornados, hurricanes, floods.
  • Clean-up teams help homeowners salvage and clean-up after fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.
  • Communication teams provide communication tools where radio and cell phones are inoperable. The bring in their own equipment to provide team communication.
  • Chaplain and Crisis Intervention provides spiritual care for the devastated survivors.
  • Crisis Closet provides clothing and other essential items in the aftermath of a disaster
  • Damage Assessment provides a preliminary assessment of the extent of damage, number of homes and businesses affected and so on.
  • Emergency Medical personnel often work with other qualified emergency response units.
  • Mud-out teams assist in the removal of mud and other debris following a flood. This includes washing, sanitizing, and removing contaminated material.
  • Reconstruction teams rebuild and make permanent repairs to churches, homes, and other building affected by the disaster.
  • Shower and Laundry team provides water for showers and laundry for the team
  • Water Purification is provided by a unit that can purify large amounts of water
  • Shelter Care provide emergency shelter for displaced survivors.

And there are many more tasks that need to be filled.  You could probably do it yourself if you stopped to think about it! 

But like all things that require cross functional coordination and teaming, training is required.  To be credentialed, you must be 18 years old.  See the picture of the seven-member team our church to be certified or recertified on Oct 2-3. 

Training began on a Friday night and was complete Saturday afternoon.  Specific training is provided for the various skills needed.  For example, at this event in Saint Louis, training in mass feeding, chainsaw, flood recovery, communications, shower/laundry, child care, were a few of the several classes offered.  Once trained, the individual receives their yellow hat and shirt, and does not need to be recertified for five years.

MO Baptist Disaster Relief provides training around the state four times a year, but with eight regions to cover, it only comes to our region of the state every two years.  So next time it is in our area, GO!

Natural disasters are not scheduled, but we can plan for them.   We must prepare and be ready before that need arises.  If this is something that is of interest to you, contact Glen Locklear at 636.327.8696 or email him at

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How long has it been since we have been able to turn on the television or radio and not hear about COVID-19 or protests over racial injustice?  While we agonize with news media overdose we cannot ignore the facts that today COVID-19 has no vaccine, and to date has taken more than 129,000 lives in the United States alone this year, compared to the seasonal flu, which does have a vaccine, and has taken between 24,000 – 62,000 lives, per the Centers for Disease Control.   At the same time, it has been highlighted that men of color are more subject to being stopped by police than their white counterparts simply because of the color of their skin.  This is wrong.  While disheartening, time and change will continue.  It will get better.  But there are other things happening in the world today that don’t make the news! 

For example, this year, within the Southern Baptist Convention, the International Mission Board (IMB), the organization which sends out missionaries, celebrates 175 years of sending and supporting our missionaries all around the world.   In May 1845, hundreds of Southern Baptist churches across the country realized that they could make more of an impact on the mission field collectively, than they could individually.  So the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) was formed as part of “one sacred effort, for the propagation of the gospel”.    Rebranded the IMB in 1997, it has sent out almost 25,000 missionaries to 185 countries since that first meeting 175 years ago.  Most recently, on June 9th, the IMB President, Dr. Paul Chitwood commissioned 61 missionaries by a virtual Sending Celebration because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board has been connecting Southern Baptists together in sharing Christ and planting new churches around the world.   “Throughout our 175-year history, Southern Baptists have maintained an uninterrupted witness among the nations, in spite of famines, wars, civil unrest and even – as we are experiencing right now - a pandemic,” Chitwood noted.  To commemorate this occasion, the IMB developed and launched an online interactive timeline at outlining this history.  In it, you will find compelling stories, interesting facts, beautiful pictures, and many short powerful video clips.  Look for it. 

We also want to celebrate by advancing the missionary task in prayer.  The IMB is mobilizing 175,000 people to pray for 175 days in a coordinated effort this year.  On May 11, 2020, the IMB began sharing specific God-stories and prayer points from all around the world.   Join to push the gospel forward in prayer! Go to this link:

 Ways to get involved

Finally, you support funding the work of the IMB through your church giving to the Cooperative Fund with thousands of other churches.  Last year FBC Wentzville gave $36,000 in Cooperative giving and at Christmas we gave $15,000 through the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.  Your giving makes a difference.  As Dr. Chitwood said, “We’re grateful God has continued to expand His kingdom and allowed us to join Him in His work.  And there is still work to do.  That is why the IMB is still sending Southern Baptist missionaries.” 

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