Published August 8, 2013
When the recent devastating tornadoes hit the Oklahoma City area, you responded, as you always do, with a generous disaster relief offering to assist our friends in Oklahoma and the many people there who do not know the Lord but have been blessed by the vibrant witness of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers.
In this Open Door I want to include a letter that I received from my good friend, Dr. Anthony Jordan, who is the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. You will be blessed to read in his own words how your disaster relief offerings were used to minister to the lives of hurting people and to give glory to God.
Thank you for being the caring and generous people you are.
On behalf of Oklahoma Baptists and the victims of the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, I want to again thank you for your generous gift of assistance and give you an update. Your kindness gives us the opportunity to immediately serve those in the aftermath of the tornadoes that tore through our state.
There were nearly 4,000 homes and businesses destroyed in Oklahoma within just a few days. Tornadoes and floods across our state left many without homes. Oklahoma and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were on the scene within hours of the first storm. The record of their ministry of love is amazing. Because of the financial gifts of your churches, and others from around the United States and the world, all the work that has been accomplished has been without cost to the victims of the storms. Thus far, we have received $4.2 million in gifts for relief. Every dollar will be spent and no administrative costs will be taken out of the disaster relief assistance fund.
I am pleased to tell you that we have been able to help many people. So far, we have served 683 families with financial assistance. Much of the resources, $1.2 million, were given within a few days of the disaster. Our teams have completed clearing 1,396 home sites by removing trees and debris, and cleaning the area surrounding each home site. During the weeks that followed the storms, our Disaster Relief teams cooked 206,139 meals that were distributed through Red Cross and Salvation Army. (This number is a more accurate number than was given in earlier correspondence.)
One of the most dynamic ministries during these days has been the work of our chaplains. The debris removal teams have chaplains assigned to each team. Chaplains have walked the streets engaging people and listening to their stories of distress and struggle to regain perspective. In the early hours, when families were waiting at the First Baptist Church of Moore to receive word concerning their loved ones who were in the schools hit by the storm, our chaplains were there to listen and provide words and acts of comfort.
I am so proud of our Baptist churches as well. Many opened their doors and became centers of refuge and help. These churches ignored the beauty of their buildings and filled them with food, water, clothing, and people. These church buildings are now battered and worn from the high volume of traffic. Pastors and their people worked till exhaustion to serve those in need. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief assisted these churches with dollars, volunteers, and meals.
Now we move into the long-term phase of assistance. Disaster Relief leaders will work with a consortium of organizations to assist those who have lost so much. Help will be distributed to those with the greatest needs until every dollar is expended. We anticipate that this could take over a year as families determine the best course of action.
Thank you for your generosity enabling us to serve those who have lost so much, both in the early hours of the disaster and over the long haul.
Anthony L. Jordan
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