ASHLAND—Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is preparing for another active year beginning with a series of training opportunities for new and returning volunteers.
The next certification classes begin Saturday, Feb. 2, at Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland. Other upcoming regional training events will be held at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, March 2, and at High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, April 6.
"Our world continues to experience devastation and destruction each year," said Director Coy Webb, "and our trained volunteers stand ready to respond when disaster hits at home and across the globe."
The Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief ministry, which began in 1984, is part of the Southern Baptist Send Relief network of 42 state conventions. Working together, these volunteers make up the third largest disaster response entity in the United States.
Over the past year, Kentucky Baptists have responded to numerous calls for help both in the commonwealth and across the country. In February, they were called to assist residents in eastern and central Kentucky where some houses were invaded by water as high as 10 feet.
Later in July, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief was deployed to help Colorado residents affected by wildfires. Webb said they sent chainsaw, fire recovery, heavy equipment, assessment, and chaplain teams.
When water lines broke in northeastern Kentucky, Baptists were there passing out cases of water. When communities in Pennsylvania were ravaged with flooding, Baptists were there, too, shoveling mud and water out of homes, prepared meals for victims, and sawing up trees blown down by storms.
By September, the hurricane season had heated up and Florence arrived with a vengeance. As the storm slowly moved across the south, it contributed to the deaths of at least 42 people.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief teams were there helping residents with cleanup for weeks shoveling mud, sawing away downed trees, feeding residents and volunteers, and providing laundry and shower facilities.
Webb said while the people they help are always appreciative, there's so much more to disaster relief than cleaning up debris and feeding hungry people.
"They need someone to come alongside them with genuine help and real hope," Webb said. "Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief brings practical help, the healing grace of Christ, and the hope of the gospel to those devastated by disaster."
More than 4,500 Kentucky Baptists are trained as disaster relief volunteers. For more information about this ministry, go to www.kybaptist.org/DR. (KBC)