Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Appreciation Day Set for Nov. 10

A Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteer from Alabama removes a downed tree after a tornado struck Beauregard, Ala., March 3, 2019. The disaster was one of many SBDR volunteers responded to in 2019. Sunday, Nov. 10, is Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday, a day for Southern Baptist to recognize the efforts of SBDR volunteers. Photo provided by Alabama Baptist Convention.

It has been nearly 18 years since the darkest day of Lonnie Rowan’s life. On Dec. 31, 2001, Rowan fell into a brush fire on his Ft. Gibson, Okla., property. With burns over 35 percent of his body, doctors gave him a 1 percent chance to live.

God’s odds were much better.

Although Rowan had one leg amputated below the knee and the other leg amputated above the knee, he beat all the other medical expectations. The doctors said he’d spend four months in the burn center. He spent two. They told him it would take him two and a half years to walk. He was walking in less than seven months and back at work in eight.

“The hospital in Tulsa tagged me as their ‘Miracle Man,’ Rowan said.

Today, Rowan is still defying the odds, now as a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteer. A team leader — or blue hat — on a local chainsaw team, he has been involved in a number of deployments from his home state of Oklahoma to Texas, Florida and Louisiana.

“Lonnie is the kind of servant-leader every state director wants to have on their SBDR team!” said Don Williams, the SBDR director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. “Lonnie typifies Southern Baptists who put Christ’s call ahead of their personal comfort, to see God glorified and lives changed by the power of the Gospel.”

Rowan is just one of thousands of volunteers who have served with SBDR so far in 2019. Volunteers have given nearly 400,000 hours of service through the ministry. Those volunteers have shared the Gospel close to 4,000 times, which has led to 840 professions of faith. On Sunday, Nov. 10, SBC churches will honor the service of these volunteers as part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday.

To celebrate and share the organization’s ministry, SBDR National Director Sam Porter of the North American Mission Board suggests that local teams set up feeding units at churches to give congregations a firsthand look at what the ministry is like. During worship services, churches can also recognize volunteers while allowing volunteers to share their stories of ministry on the front lines.

“The key to this ministry is the volunteers themselves,” Porter said. “Lots of them have some great skills. Most of them just have a willing heart. They work hard, and they’re faithful.”

In its 51 years of existence, SBDR has become the third-largest disaster relief response team in the nation. SBDR is a network of state-based volunteer teams that deploy worldwide when disaster strikes. NAMB provides national coordination and assistance in larger, multi-state responses.

“I want to give a special word of thanks and appreciation to every volunteer, church, association and state Baptist convention that plays a part in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said. “What an incredible example of how our family joins together to meet needs and — most importantly — share Christ.”

Porter notes that the last two years have tested the faithfulness of SBDR volunteers because of the intensity of the needs from so many long-term disaster responses. SBDR leaders have called 2019 “the year of the flood” because teams have been involved in flood relief nonstop since February when massive floods hit Mississippi and Tennessee.

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Source: Baptist Press