UPDATE: FBC Henryville has opened a relief fund. One hundred percent of donations through FBC Henryville will go to meet needs on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma. If you would like to contribute you may send checks to our mailing address (PO Box 87). Please make the checks out to FBC Henryville and place on the memo line “Moore Relief.” Also, please be praying for Pastor Toby as he meets with pastors from Moore during the week of June 10th. These meetings will hopefully set the groundwork for future partnerships with local churches there to continue to assist them in their recovery efforts.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Corinthians 8:10-15
I will never forget the surreal horror of standing on our church’s front parking lot and seeing the powerful EF-4 tornado looming over us. I will never forget walking dazed through the rubble of our town in the afternoon hours just after the tornado had hit as news choppers buzzed overhead and emergency sirens screamed all around us. The memories of those minutes are as fresh today as they were on the evening of March 2, 2012.
And now those memories are stirred fresh. Another massive and nightmare tornado has hit another town. The residents of Moore, Oklahoma have had their world turned upside down. I know, on some level, everything they are facing, but I also know that what I’m seeing on the news and internet shows the devastation to be far worse and on a far larger scale than anything I encountered.
So the question that comes next is how to respond. As Toby and I have been talking this morning our hearts are burning to serve the people of Oklahoma. We know the incredible outpouring of support and assistance that individuals and countless local churches gave us. God used others to meet our needs, and now we believe we are being called to be instruments to serve others as they are dealing with a tragedy so very similar to ours. Maybe you feel the same way. So how can we help? How can we join together to serve the people of Moore, Oklahoma? With the disaster having only happened less than twenty-four hours ago, here are a five initial thoughts:
1. Remember the great outpouring of love and support that we received. We have been given much, and therefore much is required. Also recognize that serving others in the gospel, particularly other local churches, is a mandate of the gospel we proclaim. We encourage you to reread 2 Corinthians 8-9. Also we’d encourage you to reread the 9Marks article that Toby and I just wrote about the need for churches to cooperate together in times of tragedy: When Disaster Strikes: How Other Churches Helped Ours.
2. Understand that in many ways the disaster in Moore, Oklahoma is far worse and on a much larger scale than what we experienced. Moore is a much larger city than Henryville on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. This truth will have to impact our response. We have to be intentional, strategic, and wise with our time, finances, and resources.
3. Know that Toby, Logan, and myself (along with other leaders) are united in our passion to give gospel-fueled assistance to our friends in Oklahoma. Be praying for us as we seek to plan ways we can respond in timely, persevering, and long-term assistance. Know that our hearts want to go now, but the situation on the ground is so volatile that to make a snap-decision trip would do more harm than good, even if we were able to get into the city itself. Our focus of assistance is going to be for long-term assistance and cooperation.
4. Sometime in the coming weeks Toby, and possibly a few others, will hopefully be taking a scouting trip to set up contacts with other local pastors in Moore and to discuss ways FBC Henryville can partner with those on the ground for ministry and service. This hopefully will be a catalyst for having others within our church involved in numerous efforts to support the victims and their families of this tragic disaster – weeks and months into the future. Pray that we are able to make contacts with local pastors to help us partner with them to aid in their recovery efforts.
5. If you are burdened to respond now there are immediate ways you can do so. First, pray for those who lost so very much in this tornado and for the thousands of volunteer workers who will be responding to meet needs. Pray that God will use this disaster, as he has done with us, as a fountain for the gospel that transforms lives. Pray that we will have burdened hearts combined with godly wisdom as we seek to lead one another to serve the tornado victims of Oklahoma. Be visible and vocal about the glorious truth that our sovereign God is both good and in complete control. Be visible and vocal also about our commitment to respond with love, support, service, and most importantly the gospel. The world is watching the way we respond. People know the great outpouring of support that we received, and now they are watching to see if First Baptist Church Henryville will respond in kind. Be vocal in saying, “YES!” Finally, if you would like to contribute immediately and financially to relief efforts we would recommend doing so through the Southern Baptist Convention’s NAMB Disaster Relief. The SBC Disaster Relief, on a state and national level, did so much for us after the tornado. Your money will be used to meet needs on the ground in Oklahoma. For more information about how to donate to the fund for Oklahoma tornado relief, please visit this link: North American Mission Board: Disaster Relief For Oklahoma Tornado Victims.