Designed for Disaster
By Ken Akers
In 2004, Hurricanes Alex and Ivan hit the United States. Powerful winds, excessive rains, and an enormous storm surge resulted in massive flooding. Several Free Will Baptist churches sustained extensive water damage. One pastor contacted Master’s Men to see if help was available. It wasn’t…and it served as a wake-up call.
Master’s Men began to prepare and equip for the next big disaster. In the summer of 2005, God provided a large work truck, which was exhibited at the national convention. Groups and individuals responded generously to our requests for tools and other equipment. We felt like we were prepared for whatever came.
We had no idea how important that preparation was. Two short months later, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. No one could have anticipated the magnitude of destruction left in its wake. Free Will Baptists responded by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to those devastated by the storm, and a small army of volunteers helped repair, rebuild, and relieve the desperate situation on the Gulf Coast.
Master’s Men helped organize these volunteers at Gulf Coast Free Will Baptist Church and the surrounding area. More than 50 volunteers showed up the first week, and another wave followed the second week. They repaired the church, which had sustained major damage, and worked with many other relief organizations in the neighborhoods around the church, assisting with clean up and debris removal.
Katrina made it clear that not only Master’s Men but also the entire denomination needed an organized plan to channel relief efforts and supplies to victims of natural disasters. Before another hurricane season passed, a special Disaster Relief Task Force had developed the following plan of action for Free Will Baptists, a plan designed for disaster:
Each state appoints a representative to communicate disaster-related information in the event of an emergency.
The Executive Office acts as a channel for collecting and distributing donations to affected areas with the help of the contact person in each state.
Master’s Men coordinates with local leaders to channel volunteers to assist in the efforts.
As coordinator of disaster relief for the denomination, Master’s Men has added trucks, trailers, and heavy equipment to do the job. We have coordinated relief after hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, and flooding, in states from North Carolina to Oklahoma, including most southern states.
Many have volunteered in disaster relief efforts that are not affiliated with Master’s Men. We appreciate all volunteers and we gladly acknowledge, help, and support their efforts. We are continually looking for more workers, and we appreciate all the men and women who have supported us by volunteering, giving, and providing supplies. Many churches have provided lodging and meals while volunteers serve. Free Will Baptist Disaster Relief is a team effort!
If you would like to be part of the Disaster Response Team, visit the Master’s Men website (www.fwbmastersmen.org) and sign up for email updates. While you may be physically unable to volunteer, please keep in mind that donations are vital to fund this important ministry. Please consider a gift or donation to help Master’s Men continue its work of disaster relief.
About the Writer: Ken Akers is director of Master’s Men.