NEW CUMBERLAND, Pennsylvania (BRN) – Several Pennsylvania/South Jersey Disaster Relief volunteers were given awards for their 2019 service at a special banquet held in their honor at Red Land Baptist Church in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, on November 9, 2019.
Two awards, a “Meritorious Service Commendation” and a “Power Team Award,” were given in honor of service from the past two years, and a third award, the Disaster Relief “Director’s Award,” was given by Pennsylvania/South Jersey Disaster Relief Director Kenton Hunt for overall assistance in the ministry.
Asking Ivan and Charlene Cousins to come forward, Hunt said, “I am excited to offer this [Meritorious Service Commendation] to not a person but a couple who, in the last two years, have become dear friends, and I watched them grow in their faith and in the ministry. And I’m excited about what God is doing in their lives.”
Hunt shared his gratitude “for their selfless contributions of time, ideas and actions that would strengthen Pennsylvania/South Jersey Disaster Relief” to the Cousins, who serve at First Baptist Church of Clarion.
“Thank you all so much for the love that you showed to me, and your hospitality, but … also the service that you’ve given to your neighbors, and the leadership you’ve provided in doing that. Thank you so much,” Hunt said.
The second award, a “Power Team Award,” a team award that recognizes teamwork in disaster relief efforts, was given to the BRN West Recovery Unit.
“There’s a particular unit and group of people that I have noticed who have been very faithful in their response. They have stepped up just about every time they could and offered, I would consider, above and beyond service,” said Hunt, asking Doug Pilot of New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville, and director of missions for the Conemaugh Valley Baptist Association, to receive the award as he read its inscription.
“The 2019 Power Team Award, in recognition of consistent service, creative ministry and diligent stewardship. This award is presented to the BRN West Recovery Unit and the team of volunteers who make it work for the glory of God.”
Explaining the award, Hunt recalled how one homeowner found faith in Jesus because of the way the BRN West disaster relief volunteers shared His love with her in the aftermath of a flood in Clearfield, Pennsylvania.
In a video, DR volunteer Jamie Gregg of Target One Ministries shared how he explained to Kay about Christ using a lighter he used to burn trash.
“You see that spark?” he asked Kay. “Yes,” she answered.
He said, “That’s your life.”
“You see the flame?” “Yes.”
“That’s forever without Jesus.”
“And, for Kay, that’s what she needed, and she professed faith in Christ,” said Pilot, recounting the effort at the banquet. “We baptized her at Canoe Creek [in Blair County, Pennsylvania] at our church picnic that fall, and we’ve been in Bible study in her home, and then we moved over to a youth center in town.”
Pilot said Kay, who was unable to come to the banquet, “still struggles, but she catches herself now. She didn’t used to do that. She asks hard questions in Bible study.”
He added, “She’s growing. She has friends that have come in now. They’re growing. But I have met few people her age that are so burdened that people don’t spend eternity in hell, including her family. And there’s people that she hasn’t talked to for years that she’s rebuilt those bridges, and they’ve been friends again.”
Accepting the award, Pilot pointed to other team members, including Gregg, who as a Huey helicopter pilot in Vietnam, had been shot down three times and lives in constant pain. Gregg built out the unit’s trailer, filled with donated supplies.
Pilot also pointed to volunteers, Dennis Pennabaker of The Church That Meets at Ramey; Don Boore of New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville; Ed Figart of New Hope Baptist Church, Duncansville; and Larry Greenleaf, among others.
In his final award for the evening, Hunt presented the Director’s Award, which recognizes an extended period of time of services as well as a person’s influence on the ministry, to Bill and Sue Hoops of Winfield Baptist Church.
“Bill and Sue continue to just offer and give, and offer and give, and serve and, do it again, and they never asked for any recognition,” offered Hunt, before reading the award’s inscription.
“The 2019 Director’s Award, presented to Bill and Sue Hoops, in recognition of their proven faithfulness, devotion, sacrifice, and servant leadership in the ministry of Penn/South Jersey Disaster Relief’ based on Colossians 4:7.”
“Brother, you count,” Hunt told Bill Hoops. “And by the way, I could not give an award to just one or the other. These two come in a pair.”
In closing comments, Hunt urged all the DR volunteers to consider to whom they can pass the baton.
“Who’s going to do it behind me? Is this an important enough ministry to work so hard at, to make sure that it continues to thrive?” Hunt asked.
“Well, I think tonight you’ve heard a lot of reasons why the answer is yes. It is worth it. It is worth it … because my Bible says that pastors are to be preparing their congregations, preparing their people to meet the urgent needs that arise in their communities. That’s scriptural and I can’t think of a better example of how that happens, than disaster relief.”