The Best-Kept Secret in Disaster Relief: Southern Baptists

Night city street after a storm surge of a hurricane.

As Hurricane Irma leaves behind a trail of destruction and pain, the nation again turns its eyes to disaster relief. Just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey brought out the best in many of us. Desiring to aid the victims in Texas, celebrities traded on their popularity to encourage donations and volunteers. Average citizens opened up their wallets, gave of their time, and expended energy as they rushed to help fellow citizens. Local non-profits and large multi-national corporations alike demonstrated that compassion is a universal trait of humanity. No doubt, the response to Hurricane Irma will be just as compassionate and swift.

As people and organizations rush to Florida to aid those affected by Hurricane Irma, one organization that responds to natural disasters is often overlooked — the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief program. Under the auspices of the North American Mission Board, SBC, the Disaster Relief program quickly moves into devastated areas with well-trained and coordinated manpower, physical resources like food and clothing, and, of course, money.

The organization's website states:

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is Christian love in action. This ministry meets the urgent needs of hurting humanity in crisis situations. Christ calls for believers to demonstrate His love to those affected by disasters through our timely use of resources, talents and time. We provide many different types of relief, including food, water, child care, laundry, repairs, rebuilding and more.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has gained national and international recognition for our work in crisis situations across the country. State convention leaders invest significant resources to provide proper training for our volunteers. They stand ready at a moment’s notice to help the hurting and bring hope during a catastrophe.

In 2013, replicating their response to previous disasters, SBC Disaster Relief rushed to the aid of tornado victims in Oklahoma. In a video posted on FEMA's website, it's revealed that the SBC's mobile kitchen units provide 90 percent of all hot food distributed around the country by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army when disasters strike.

According to a New York Times' article, "Nearly 95,000 Baptists across the country are trained to handle disasters like hurricanes and floods. After the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, the Baptist group is the biggest disaster relief organization in the country."

The NYT story confirms the claim made by Diane Davis of BP Press that "Our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is the nation's third-largest disaster relief organization."

Suffering is a part of our sinful world. However, that reality doesn't mean that Christians should sit idly by as others endure pain and loss. We are commanded to love our neighbors and to provide aid and comfort to the hungry and the oppressed. It's heartening to know that even in the worst of times, the Southern Baptist Convention is busy obeying God by providing aid and relief to those in need.