WOOSTER, Ohio (BRN) – From July 5-8, volunteers representing the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania and South Jersey (BRN) partnered with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio for several disaster relief projects in Wooster, Ohio.
“It [partnership] is critically important,” said BRN Director of Disaster Relief Kenton Hunt. “We cannot do the work without depending on one another.”
Of the volunteers sent from Pennsylvania and South Jersey were Disaster Relief (DR) Blue Hat Doug Pilot, Don Boore, Ed Figart and Bill Laret, all of which are members at New Hope Baptist Church in Duncansville, Pennsylvania.
The New Hope volunteers then teamed up with other volunteers from the Ohio and Kentucky state conventions to recover homes that were damaged by straight line winds and fallen trees.
“They took what we call the BRN West Recovery Unit, which is housed there at New Hope [and] that’s equipped to do chainsaw work and flood clean-up work,” explained Hunt. “Mostly, they were cutting up trees that had been blown over…[and] there were [some] very big trees.”
The team spent every day with another small team in Ohio, this partnership allowing them to complete seven jobs in a matter of just four days.
“It doesn’t take long for a disaster to become too big for us to handle on our own,” expressed Hunt.
He continued to highlight the importance of partnering with other state Baptist conventions, noting that the Ohio state convention sent a team to aid with flood clean-up in York County, Pennsylvania, last year.
“We send volunteers back and forth between our state conventions [because] we have high confidence that they’re going to be able to do the job, do it well [and] represent well – our volunteers become extensions of their (the partnering convention) gospel work.”
Although physical in nature, disaster relief projects often open the door for spiritual impact, for both the individuals the teams are serving and the team members themselves.
“There were five people who committed themselves to Christ through the work that was done [in Ohio]…and that’s not unusual to hear,” said Hunt.
The team also gave away seven Bibles and engaged in numerous gospel conversations.
“It was a true blessing to help people in need and show our good works,” said DR volunteer Don Boore.
For the team, the trip had a spiritual impact on Bill Laret, who is new to the disaster relief scene.
“He’s [Laret] been aware of disaster relief, [but] just never got involved,” explained Hunt.
“So, he asked about participating in this one…and because I knew he would have good supervision – Doug and the other two guys on the team are very experienced – I knew he would be fine.”
After the team returned, Laret had the opportunity to share with his church family about the work they had done and the lives that had been changed.
“Doug was telling me that when he [Laret] saw the photos he was just in tears because it was a very moving thing for him. So, the spiritual impact is not just for those we help, it happens with the team members also.”
Anyone wishing to know more about the BRN’s disaster relief efforts or who is interested in volunteering can learn more on our disaster relief page.