The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” –
A few years ago, I signed up to be a member of one of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s disaster relief chainsaw teams. Before 2020, I had only been activated for hurricane cleanups. So far this year we have been called out twice to clean up destruction from tornadoes. There are several differences between these two types of storms. For most people living in coastal areas, it’s not a matter of if a hurricane will hit, but when. Many families that my team has served had been hit previously. For some, it was their third hurricane. Weather forecasters start tracking these storms days before they make landfall. This gives families time to pack up sentimental items and head inland to safety. Tornadoes, on the other hand, are very different.
In most cases, the warning time before this type of storm is just a few minutes. While weather forecasters can predict that conditions will be conducive for tornadoes to form, they can’t tell us exactly where or when they will strike.
It is not unusual for tornadoes to strike in the middle of the night. In this situation, the first warning received could be the sound of your roof being ripped off your house. There is no time to collect 100 years of family photos or run to the garage to get your lucky putter. Your wife is forced to decide between grabbing your first-born child or the rolling pin her grandmother used to make pies. The fact is, you and your family may be lucky to make it out alive. I thank the Lord that my mother was visiting her sister when a tornado destroyed her home on Mother’s Day 2006.
Obviously, one of the duties of a chainsaw team is to cut trees, but that is not our main purpose. Our goal is to minister to these families and let them see the love of Christ through us. One way we minister is to let them tell us their storm stories. They all have stories and most are eager to share their ordeal. I quickly became aware of a reoccurring theme to these tornado stories. They all said, “I never thought it would happen to us!”
Think about that. How many times have you watched news coverage of tragedies, and thought it was terrible but would never happen to you? Whether it’s a tornado, flood, church shooting, all of us have thought that at one time or another. This is true both in our personal and professional lives.
Metro Baptist Church here in Nashville never thought a tornado would wipe their sanctuary off the face of the earth, but it did a few years ago. Our past president, Jeff Galasso, never expected a deadly mass shooting on his campus at Faith Bible Chapel International in Arvada, Colorado. The fact is, it can happen to any of us. The first step in dealing with disasters is accepting the realization that it can happen to you or your church. About 15 years ago, my church received several bomb threats over a period of a few months. The local police would call me late on a Saturday night to notify me of each bomb threat. Each time, my Business Administrator and I spent countless hours searching our campus. While we never found a bomb or had an explosion, it hammered home the realization that disasters can happen to any of us.
You can’t wait until disaster hits to develop a plan. It takes time, research, and collaboration to prepare a disaster plan. Several sources can help with the process. In fact, the NACFM has had some members prepare research papers on being prepared as part of their certification. We have several business partners that specialize in restoration work. FEMA, as well as state and local governments have a wealth of information. The thoughts I am sharing are not intended to be used to develop your plan, but to bring awareness for the need to ask two questions:
• What am I not prepared for? Don’t
limit your imagination to the ordinary - floods, storms, or fires. Who saw the Covid-19 virus coming? Think outside the box. My experience with the bomb threats had me thinking about some bizarre possibilities. I now have a reciprocal
agreement with a Church of Christ congregation close by stating that each church will let the other church worship in their church if their building is destroyed by a meteor strike, bomb, zombie apocalypse, etc.
But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
• How can I help others?
This could be anything from storm cleanup to the use of your facilities. We reached out to Metro Baptist and offered our buildings for their weddings, funerals and events after the tornado. During the 2010 flood in Nashville, our church
made up to 1,000 box lunches a day for the relief workers and victims. Disasters require many different talents; laundry teams, mass feeding, assessors, mud out and building teams to name a few.
Christ gives us the blueprint
that allows us to use our talents and efforts to reach others for His Father. Compassionate good works can break down barriers for the gospel witness. Believers must be equipped to do the good works that can draw attention to the Lord.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
For me, being on the chainsaw team has been some of the hardest and most rewarding work I have ever done. It allows me to use my talents to glorify my Lord and Savior. I love the look on people’s faces when I walk up and say that Jesus sent me to help them. Please join me in praying for the NACFM, our members and their churches in these strange times.
Yours in Christ,
June 15th-18th, Monday - Thursday 1pm-2pm (EDT)
Grab your calendar and schedule just 1 hour per day June 15th - 18th as we gather virtually to hear from some great presenters that will encourage you during these unusual times.
- Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
- When You Can’t Change the Direction of the Wind - Adjust Your Sails
- Roundtable Discussion
- The NACFM Annual Business Meeting will be held on Thursday via ZOOM.
Registration will open June 1st
so be sure to sign up.
And, of course, it's all FREE for NACFM members!
Reminder – 2020 National Conference Update
We have postpone our Chicago conference until June 2021 and pushed back our gathering in Denver to 2022. Payments for 2020 will be applied to 2021. Refunds are available upon request.
Show Your NACFM Connection with Customized Apparel from Lands' End!
Shop Lands' End Business for high-quality apparel showcasing the NACFM logo. Products available include shirts, hats, bags and more.
Featured Member: Lee Robinson
Lee Robinson grew up in Ohio and came to know Jesus when he was sixteen. After high school graduation, Lee's love of flying took him to Florida where he intended to pursue a career in aviation. (One of his
favorite movies is Top Gun!) So there he was – sunny skies, sandy beaches and a future as a pilot! But God had other plans.