EAGLE PASS—Disaster relief volunteers quickly mobilized after torrential rains along the Texas-Mexico border produced a meteorological encore to last year’s devastating floods.
Rainfall of up to 16 inches on June 19-20 flooded homes and forced state and federal highways closed.
DR volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention were concentrating on two of the areas hardest hit: the Eagle Pass subdivision of Elm Creek and the town of Quemado in northern Maverick County, said Scottie Stice, SBTC off-site disaster relief coordinator.
Through more than a week of ministry, DR volunteers recorded 11 salvation decisions—a high proportion of conversions compared to the number of work orders they completed, Stice said.
Work from seasonal flooding along the border doesn’t usually require large-scale mobilizations, but it is some of the most spiritually fruitful work DR engages in, he said.
SBTC director of chaplains, Gordon Knight, arrived in the area June 23 to lead a combined group of SBTC and Texas Baptist Men volunteers. By June 27, TBM workers redeployed to disaster relief in the Granbury/Cleburne area while 15-17 SBTC volunteers remained to finish the work along the Texas border, Knight said.
First Baptist Church of Quemado hosted the SBTC DR volunteers, with Knight praising the church and its pastor, Brouning Lentz.
SBTC chaplains, assessors, mud-out, operations and feeding teams deployed to the area, removing debris and damaged sheetrock, and applying Shockwave, a mold prevention treatment.
A tragic part of this DR deployment is the fact that many victims who were being helped were among last year’s victims as well, noted Knight, who told of assessing the home of a woman helped by the SBTC in 2013.
“She had just gotten her house back together. Last year we took her sheetrock off the walls to the ceiling. This year, it had to come off about two feet. That is the heartbreaking thing about this. They get the thing finished and the next year, here it comes and they’ve got to do it all over again,” Knight said.
Another issue has been the loss of livestock, which hurts a family’s livelihood, he added.
Such adversity brings discouragement and vulnerability.
“While we were assessing the damage to one family’s home, our chaplains talked to them about their relationship with the Lord. Two sons and their mother wound up receiving Christ,” Knight said.
Across the border, Brigada Esperanza, the Mexican Baptist disaster relief organization long assisted by the SBTC, ministered to flood victims in Ciudad Acuna, in the state of Coahuila, in its first-ever independent deployment.
“At the time Quemado and Eagle Pass were flooded, 12 colonias or neighborhoods in Ciudad Acuna flooded as well. Fifteen-hundred families lost everything; another 3,000 had water in their homes,” Stice said.
“We have been working with Brigada Esperanza for several years to get their disaster relief ministry launched, patterned after ours, and they are doing this deployment completely on their own,” Stice said.
Luis Martinez, director of Brigada Esperanza, confirmed that Mexican DR volunteers were serving 2,500 plates of food per day, prepared by the Baptist churches in Acuna.
Brigada Esperanza also served up the Bread of Life, with at least 22 professions of faith reported, said Jim Richardson, SBTC DR director.