SBTC DR crews return from assisting in Chicago metropolitan area

GRAYSLAKE, Ill.—Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief (SBTC DR) teams left Illinois to return to Texas Aug. 20, wrapping up a weeklong deployment aiding victims of July floods. Teams served at the request of Illinois Baptist State Association DR. 

Mud-out crews from Bonham led by Monte Furrh and Bellville led by Mike Phillips teamed with volunteers from Georgia, Virginia and Illinois in the Grayslake area, 40 miles north of downtown Chicago, where they were housed at Grayslake Presbyterian Church.

The overall area deployment saw 11 salvations. SBTC teams reported 17 gospel presentations and 19 spiritual contacts while distributing 17 Bibles and working on nearly two dozen jobs, STBC DR associate Wally Leyerle told the TEXAN.

“The spiritual impact of the SBC DR volunteers will continue for some time with people coming to Christ,” Illinois Baptist DR director Jim Weickersheimmer told Leyerle.

Most jobs involved mud-out and treatment of basements flooded when storm sewers backed up or sump pumps broke, said David Brandon, an SBTC DR volunteer from Borger.

The Illinois deployment was among the first for Brandon, who received DR training last October.

In addition to learning new techniques for removing sheetrock and preparing surfaces for anti-mold treatment, Brandon said he benefitted from seeing how teams work together on deployment.

“Each individual has a job to do and goes to it. If somebody needs help, they drop what they are doing and help,” Brandon said of the teamwork.

Brandon also noted the “spiritual relationship” developed between teams and victims.

“For the most part, we ran into good Christian people living under rough conditions, unfortunate in the flood,” Brandon said, describing an elderly man who professed faith in Christ while his daughter and wife, already Christians, praised the Lord with “rejoicing.”

During prayer time with homeowners at the conclusion of another job, the family’s grandmother announced, “Wait a minute I haven’t prayed. I want to pray for you!”

SBTC teams worked from Grayslake to North Chicago, serving African-American, Hispanic and Anglo homes in varying socioeconomic neighborhoods.

“I was very proud of our teams who took time out of their busy schedules to travel 1,200 miles just so they could get up early and work hard helping people they did not know overcome tragedy,” said Leyerle, adding that other teams had also volunteered but “we ran out of work before they could go.”

“Their sweat and skill demonstrated in practical terms that the God they served loved the people they served.”

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