Like me, many of you are watching the unfolding devastation of the flooding in southeastern Kentucky. As of the writing of this post, we know that the death toll has reached 35 and is expected to rise. Thirteen Kentucky counties received a disaster declaration allowing them to receive federal aid. Four hundred people were rescued by National Guard helicopters and others were rescued by boat. The pictures on local and national news, as well as social media, are heartbreaking and horrific.
What can the rest of us do to love and serve our southeastern Kentucky neighbors?
1. We can pray — Those of us who follow Jesus know that God controls the weather and hears the prayers of His people. God can do all things — including direct rescuers to those who need rescue, turn forecasted rain in another direction and provide resources to care for those who have lost everything. We can also pray for comfort, peace and healing from the trauma that so many thousands of our Kentucky neighbors have experienced.
2. We can give — There are multiple opportunities to give, to show love and provide relief to the hurting people in southeastern Kentucky. You can give to Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief by going to kybaptist.org/flood. You can also give to the SBC Send Relief by going to sendrelief.org. It is likely that Send Relief will be helping provide food for some of the Southern Baptist State Disaster Relief Teams that will be making their way to affected areas.
You can also collect gift cards and send them to pastors, associational leaders and church leaders who will be interacting directly with hurting people. Learn more about where to give and send those gift cards at kybaptist.org/flood. Your gifts will be effective in this recovery and in the lives of those who have lost most or all of their earthly possessions.
You should also be aware that if you are a member of a cooperating Kentucky Baptist, or Southern Baptist church, you are already supporting the recovery through your church’s Cooperative Program giving. CP giving allows state conventions, like the Kentucky Baptist Convention, to have a staff and structure in place to respond when disaster strikes. Your KBC DR Team was working before the rainfall had even stopped in eastern Kentucky.
3. You can go — Over the next few days and weeks, thousands of volunteers and caring friends will be making their way to southeastern Kentucky to alleviate some of the suffering of people they do not even know. They are going because they care and because the Lord directs us in his word to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Some will go through an organized disaster relief effort or some other similar organization, and some will make a local connection and take a group of men with grills and shovels to love their neighbors in Jesus’ name.
It is at times like these that I am grateful to be a Kentucky Baptist and a Southern Baptist. It is at times like these that I am grateful to be in partnership with millions of believers and thousands of churches and associations partnering together to reach our nation and the world with the gospel. In Kentucky, we will be watching an army of volunteers wearing gold shirts and blue hats, carrying shovels and chain saws, preparing and distributing meals and sharing the hope that is found only in Jesus with people who need his hope. May God get much glory in this disaster, may His people find much joy in serving, and may many others cross over from death unto life because we served our neighbors in southeastern Kentucky in Jesus’ name.