Month: September 2017

With limited city resources, Kountze church becomes “shelter of last resort”

KOUNTZE—At the outset of Hurricane Harvey, Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief task force member and pastor of First Baptist Kountze Daniel White assisted in deploying DR units across the state, until Harvey moved east from Houston, flooding Beaumont and surrounding communities, including his own.

First Baptist Kountze sprang to the aid of those affected.

“My church became a ‘shelter of last resort’ for evacuees who were rescued by boats,” White said. “We began preparing meals for the evacuees and now we are preparing meals for city and county workers, first responders and the nursing home.”

Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online

White said SBTC DR volunteers prayed with 27, provided 30 showers, did 14 loads of laundry and prepared 425 meals on Aug. 31.

“Our operations center was located at First Baptist Kountze, with Daniel at the helm. When flooding affected the town, we had to relieve Daniel of his command so he could minister to his church, his family and the community,” Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, told the TEXAN.

 “We are preparing breakfast and supper for first responders,” Daniel’s wife, D’Ann, reported, adding that they are also preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for hurricane evacuees and community members, including residents of a local nursing home that were not able to evacuate and were running out of food.

“Power is becoming an issue,” D’Ann White added.

SBTC director of disaster relief Scottie Stice confirmed that city of Kountze was suffering water and sewage system issues.

“All resources are limited,” D’Ann White reported. The county was unable to transport evacuees as of Aug. 31. While some have found places to go, First Baptist Kountze lodged 22 people, 14 dogs and 3 cats.

Late last night, the 22 evacuees were joined by a Fort Hood soldier, his wife and three children, including a newborn, who were trying to get home to Florida, Daniel White told the TEXAN.

“The county assures us evacuees will be transported to shelters in the morning [Sept. 1],” D’Ann White reported.

The evacuation may be stalled, however.

A shelter in nearby Jasper is no longer an option because a power transmission line went down, leaving Jasper and Newton counties are without power.

 “We appreciate Daniel, the volunteers, and the church who responded very quickly to minister to the needs in Kountze,” Stice said. “The flooding hit them very quickly. They didn’t see this coming right then.“

With White and First Baptist Kountze otherwise occupied, the SBTC DR command center moved to Grapevine under the direction of Mike Jansen, Stice said, calling the operation a “communication and administration nerve center” of DR response.

Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at

In the Wake of Harvey: One state, one fellowship of churches

Almost exactly 12 years ago Hurricane Katrina descended on Louisiana and changed some things about that state forever. A month later, our SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers had to rush back to East Texas, some to their own homes, to clean up in the wake of Hurricane Rita. To many of us, those events run together in a blur. The desperate need of those days jerked a fledgling state convention into maturity. We came out of it with a developed and experienced disaster relief apparatus that has regularly deployed across the state and around the world. Our churches began to expect of one another the kind of community and support a fellowship of churches should be able to provide. That implied promise was tested and grew into expanded church planting, missionary partnerships, evangelistic efforts, church revitalization and myriad church health resources a state convention should offer. Katrina was a game changer, even in Texas.

The observable changes begun in 2005 should cause us to anticipate the impact Hurricane Harvey. At this point, it is breathtaking to think of the size and population of the region from Corpus Christi to Beaumont, from Galveston to Conroe. At this writing, the project is still rescue and shelter. Long-term recovery efforts and assessments of the needs are weeks in the future. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands are out of their homes, churches are scattered and some church buildings are not usable as outposts. Many pastors and churches in the 54-county area will face severe financial challenges before any kind of clean up and restoration can begin. But a month from now we’ll know and be stunned by the scope of the measurable impact of a flood that has directly impacted about 40 percent of the Texas population, including one of the most dynamic cities in the U.S. It’s an event that will touch all of us, and it should. The world has seen bigger catastrophes, but this one is ours. Southeast Texas is a region of wealth, growth and strong churches that send missionary resources around the world. We, all of us, need Houston and her Christian community back up and running. But for now, they need us.

Our watchwords for this fall and winter are “pray,” “give” and “go.” We are very serious about all three. As our staff spoke with pastors in the region, even as rain was still falling, we talked with shepherds who were concerned about their scattered flocks, leaders who went all-in to provide for neighbors and first responders, and men who themselves were displaced by the rising water. We prayed with them and continue to pray for them as they are both victims and resources in their communities. That need for prayer will only grow as they dig out and face grueling days of counseling the grieved, feeding the needy and sharing the gospel with some who are broken enough to listen for the first time. Every single church in our state can pray for our fellow pastors and churches as they face the hardest days anyone remembers.

Join us in giving. No amount of money that we could raise will meet the needs of so many people or such a large geographic area. But we can help our sister churches get back on their feet or minister to their neighbors. Some of our disaster relief crews are operating in primitive conditions and working long, emotionally draining hours. Maybe you can’t be there, but you can help. We in North, West and Northeast Texas were spared, but we should not be unaffected. Help those who are on the scene to provide resources as basic as tarps and mold retardant or as lofty as spiritual counsel. If the churches that are still high and dry will suffer a fraction as much as their sister churches farther south and east, we can hasten the recovery of this essential portion of this essential state. Maybe your church is like mine and has seen a slow year of giving. Now, let’s imagine our churches transported to Corpus Christi in early September 2017. How ominous does your actual financial situation look compared to that imagination? Every single church in the unaffected areas can help financially. Click here for some immediate options.

Some of us can go. SBTC Disaster Relief post basic volunteer training to the week of September 4. You can be trained and you may be able to deploy for a week. The need will continue for at least months. Schedule a vacation if you need to. Some of our churches can adopt a church in Southeast Texas. Listen for more about this important program. My church and your church can encourage, assist and visit churches whose ministries seem on the bubble. We’re not ready to begin those partnerships at the moment, but it will come soon and you will hear about it. But you can volunteer now. We have collected names of several churches that have already volunteered to pray and give and go for our brothers in the flooded area. Every single church in the unaffected areas can deploy as least a few volunteers to address the needs of our sister churches. Get trained and plan to go. 

This is the time to invest our reserves. God may have allowed you to amass capable people, relative financial strength and faithful prayer warriors so you can pass these resources to those in greater need. A couple of months from now, our brethren in Beaumont, Rockport, Plum Grove and Houston should be a little less tired and devastated because we are a little more tired and invested in their recovery. Check back with us regularly as we do all we can to keep the needs known to all our churches. This is a time for us to prove that we are one fellowship of churches, given to one another to build up the body of Christ.


Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at

Buckets for Harvey give hurricane victims needed supplies

GRAPEVINE—Even a 2-year-old can help the flood victims of Houston. That’s the plan at the home of Kristin Leonard, where her family is packing cleaning supplies that will be headed to Southeast Texas. After Normandale Baptist Church in Fort Worth announced plans to collect Buckets for Harvey, she saw it as an opportunity for her family to get involved.

“My 2-year old will love putting things in a bucket, and our 5-year old will have some understanding of what happened and why people need these things,” Leonard told the TEXAN. “We looked at the list and it’s all manageable, so I sent out a Facebook message to see if other people wanted to help.”

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is asking churches and individuals to begin collecting five-gallon buckets with lids and pack them with 18 items that range from respirators to eyeglass protectors to work gloves. Together, the supplies will cost about $50.

When Church at the Cross in Grapevine advised members of the project, Staci Taylor invited neighbors on her street to a packing party on a Sunday night. “Join us to help meet a very practical and essential need for our Texas families,” she wrote in a Facebook post to friends.

“We want to be a people of action in this situation to shine light in the darkness,” wrote Geoffrey Bertram, minister to life groups. The church provided the buckets for families to fill with supplies.

SBTC Field Ministry Strategist Mitch Kolenovsky still remembers how grateful he was to a local church that showed up with cleaning supplies when his home in Seguin flooded nearly two decades ago. “Things like bleach and sponges are real necessities because mold and mildew becomes a huge problem in the aftermath of any flooding that takes place. You need to be able to kill that out as soon as possible,” he said.

As of Sept. 1, 13 churches spread across the state will serve as collection sites for the buckets. For the DFW area, those include Providence Church in Frisco, Mesquite Friendship Baptist in Mesquite, Hillcrest Baptist in Cedar Hill, First Baptist in Colleyville, The Church on Rush Creek in Arlington, Travis Avenue Baptist and Normandale Baptist in Fort Worth, and Grace Covenant in Weatherford.

First Baptist in Odessa and Southcrest Baptist in Lubbock will serve as the West Texas collection points, while Paramount Baptist in Amarillo will receive buckets in the Panhandle. University Baptist in San Antonio will collect buckets from churches in Central Texas, and New Beginnings Baptist in Longview will handle East Texas.

Providence Church in Frisco will make their delivery Sept. 11, while a team from Normandale Baptist will head out with buckets the following week. Other sites have a longer time frame with late September deliveries. Churches planning to receive and distribute the buckets include Sportsman’s Church in Victoria, First Baptist Church in Beaumont and Houston’s First Baptist Church.

Each five-gallon bucket should contain 18 items:

  • Terry towels (4-pack or can buy in bulk and separate, thin not thick)
  • Trash bags (roll of 25, may need to buy in bulk and separate)
  • Mold control spray bottle
  • Ajax dish soap
  • Cleaner with bleach in spray bottle
  • 12 3/4″ Wonderbar pry bar
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Duct tape roll
  • Scrub brush
  • Leather work/palm gloves (3-pack)
  • Disposable gloves (2-pack)
  • Utility knife
  • Sharpie permanent marker (2-pack)
  • 3M eyeglass protector
  • Small hygiene kit (or use feminine napkins/pads purchased in bulk then separate some into ziploc)
  • 11″ zip ties/cable ties (100 pack or similar)
  • Respirator (2-pack)
  • Sponges (3-pack, pack these last under the lid)

For drop off locations and specific instructions for packing, visit, and click on “Buckets for Harvey.”

Buckets for Harvey from SBTC Videos on Vimeo.

SBTC feeding crews respond across the Texas Gulf Coast

CORPUS CHRISTI—A half dozen Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) rumbled through the parking lot of Annaville Baptist Church in Corpus Christi before noon Thursday, Aug. 31, and then again in sweltering temperatures at 4 p.m. to pick up more than 2,500 meals prepared by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief feeding volunteers for distribution to victims of Hurricane Harvey in communities along the Gulf Coast.

The hot meals, safely sealed in thermal Cambro containers, were carried to Freeport, Rockport, Woodsboro, Aransas Pass and Gregory, said Joe Vich, Red Cross kitchen manager from Waterloo, Iowa. Leftovers were taken to a nearby nonprofit ministry.

Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online

Vich commented that he had worked with SBTC DR volunteers in the past in Louisiana. “They are a fabulous group, very well organized. They know what they are doing. This group has been, over the top, a pleasure to work with.”

Vic Hencken, representing the Red Cross’s senior vice president of disaster relief, said, “I can’t say enough about the Southern Baptists, about what they do and how they do it.”

SBTC unit director Ray Schwertner of Rockwall praised his team of 17 volunteers from across the state, including two feeding units from First Baptist of Brownsville.

“We’re glad to be out here working with our brothers and sisters serving the people of the Gulf. It’s hot out here, but everybody’s got a great spirit. We’re glad to represent God in the Corpus area,” Schwertner said.

DR volunteers plan to be in the area awhile. “We expect a three to four week deployment,” said Terry Roberts, SBTC volunteer from Brownsville. “People will be phased in and out over that time. It’s open ended.”

A team from First Baptist Linden arrived with a shower and laundry trailer in support of feeding volunteers and other first responders.

Annaville Baptist Church is hosting SBTC volunteers and making its parking lot and family life center available to both Red Cross and SBTC DR personnel, providing meals to volunteers.

Annaville members erected temporary quarters for male and female SBTC volunteers, the particleboard partitions forming a makeshift dormitory in the midst of the fellowship hall.

“We’re more than happy to help,” Annaville pastor Robert Simmons told the TEXAN, adding that his church’s chainsaw teams were at work in surrounding areas to help victims.

“We want to do anything we can to bring the light of Jesus into the darkness and into this mess. And it is a mess!” Simmons said.

SBTC feeding units also deployed to Houston at Clay Road Baptist Church and First Baptist Pflugerville, SBTC task force member Dewey Watson confirmed.

Crews heading to Houston were stalled for two days due to flooding, until the Texas Department of Transportation mapped a route for them, Watson said.

Calling the weather in northwest Houston “hot but drying,” unit director Ralph Britt said 22 SBTC volunteers had gathered at Clay Road Baptist “ready to cook” but were waiting on supplies and equipment from the Red Cross, with expectations to begin preparing meals on Friday.

Another feeding team from First Baptist Pflugerville headquartered at that church, staffed by its members and led by Mike Northen, anticipated starting meal preparations on Friday also.

Northen also alerted the Red Cross of damage in nearby Smithville and La Grange, both flooded by the Colorado River.

Northen said his Pflugerville team will be providing meals for shelters and possibly for victims in Smithville and La Grange.

“The overall disaster is ten or a hundred times worse than anything we’ve ever seen,” Northen said.

Watson expressed thanks to all volunteers: “They are willing to step out of their lives to give a portion of their time to people they don’t even know.”

Watson also confirmed plans to deploy a feeding trailer from First Baptist Lufkin to Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont as soon as roads are passable.

Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at