FBC, Burlington, Kan., hosts disaster-relief training
By Jay Hale
The 2017 hurricanes hitting the United States and its territories caused a swell of concern for fellow Americans that was manifested in a variety of ways.
One local congregation took an extra step on Saturday, Oct. 21, by providing training for deployment to a disaster area.
First Baptist Church, Burlington, Kan., organized a training day for its members to be trained and credentialed as disaster-relief volunteers.
To get into a federally declared disaster area, a volunteer must be credentialed by a response organization. The Southern Baptist Convention is a credentialing agency and is the third-largest disaster-relief agency in the United States.
Trainers came to Burlington from Nebraska and Kansas to train people in kitchen, laundry, shower, chainsaw, chaplaincy, and mud-out operations. Participants came from FBC, Burlington, Lawrence, Chetopa, Columbus, Topeka and Mound Valley.
The morning began with everyone assembled for an overview session addressing the how and why of disaster relief. Part of the “why” Southern Baptists are engaged in disaster relief revolves around Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor and John’s caution about having the capacity to help but refusing to help. (1 John 3:17)
The trainers also addressed the organizational structure that oversees volunteer operations. After the opening session, the group divided into smaller groups with people attending training they were most interested in.
More than half of the 38 participants attended the kitchen training that taught basic sanitation, food handling and preparation, and operation of large-capacity kitchens.
Southern Baptists operate kitchens capable of producing thousands of meals per day. Ninety-five percent of all meals served by the Red Cross have been prepared by Southern Baptists.
Nearly one-fourth of the people were trained on chainsaw safety. The class covered required safety equipment, techniques for dealing with downed trees, working in hazardous areas and working as part of a team. The church hauled a tree to town on a trailer for the group to practice on.
Several attended the chaplaincy training. Everyone was encouraged to serve as a chaplain in their own work areas. The intention of disaster relief is to relieve immediate suffering and communicate the love of God to those affected. But some were trained specifically to deal with hurting people who are overwhelmed by the circumstances that precipitated the declaration of a disaster area. Chaplains are trained to engage people in their hurt and help them see hope.
All the people met in the fellowship hall for lunch provided by the ladies of First Baptist Church. While people ate their lunch, the trainers led two other classes—shower-trailer operations and laundry-trailer operations.
Southern Baptists have mobile showers and laundry units that can be positioned to support disaster-relief operations.
The volunteers trained are now available for deployment by the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists disaster-relief coordinator.
(Jay Hale is pastor of First Baptist Church, Burlington, Kan.)