The Southern Baptist TEXAN recorded a brief interview on Oct. 30 with SBTC Disaster Relief Director Jim Richardson, asking him to summarize the relief work as it stands a month and a half following Hurricane Ike’s devastation along the Gulf Coast. What follows is a transcript of that interview.
TEXAN: First off, after Hurricane Ike, how many meals did Southern Baptists of Texas Convention-led kitchens serve?
RICHARDSON: Our DR volunteers served a total of 881,258 meals. That includes all over Southeast Texas?Galveston, Huntsville, Port Arthur, Lufkin and Tyler. Galveston was the last feeding operation, and we served our last meal on Oct. 26.
TEXAN: Is it possible to quantify the spiritual fruit from Ike relief?
RICHARDSON: We know of at least 60 people who made first-time professions of faith. Of course, we pass the names of those people on to local churches for follow up.
TEXAN: What’s the next step for SBTC disaster relief?
RICHARDSON: Hurricane Ike is passed. What we need right now are more trained volunteers. We have about 2,000 trained SBTC volunteers. What we need in the state of Texas are 5,000 trained volunteers. In order to provide this type of ministry, it takes people who are willing to be trained. Five thousand sounds like a lot of people, but realize that on any given day only about 10 percent of those people are available, because of family obligations, sickness, work. And it takes a lot of people to respond to disasters such as Ike.
TEXAN: If someone is interested in training for disaster relief, how do they begin?
RICHARDSON: We will come to their church or association to get their people trained. They simply need to contact our office, 877-953-7282 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can work on scheduling a training in their area.
TEXAN: Who fits the disaster relief profile?
RICHARDSON: The DR profile is anybody in Southern Baptist life. We have people who come from small churches. We have people who come from large churches. We have people who are in their 80s. We have people who are 18. It runs the gamut of Southern Baptist life. The only thing is, people have to be at least 18 years old.
TEXAN: What’s the SBTC doing as far as recovery at this point?
RICHARDSON: We are still working in Port Arthur, Bridge City, Orange, Cove, Vidor, Galveston and Southeast Texas in general. We’re still working on mud-out, trying to get those cleanup needs met. And then over the next year or so we’re going to have a very extended commitment to help people rebuild, help churches rebuild, and help families rebuild their homes after Ike. That’s working through Nehemiah’s Vision, based in Vidor, which is partnering with us in this as they have after Rita since 2005. Again, if someone is interested in that, they can contact our office for more information on how they can help. So our biggest challenges right now are to continue the rebuild process and train new volunteers.