Ala. exec commends relief workers ‘who have come to our rescue’

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)--More than a week after Hurricane Ivan tore a path of destruction through several Alabama counties, numerous volunteers continue a relentless effort to help clean up and repair storm-ravaged areas.

Several hundred Southern Baptists from more than a dozen states, including Alabama, persist in their drive to restore some sense of normalcy to storm victims and the hardest-hit areas.

"In my lifetime, I have not witnessed such widespread devastation in our state," said Rick Lance, executive director-treasurer of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. "I want to commend the disaster relief workers from Alabama and around the country who have come to our rescue here in Alabama."

Lance, along with other state missions personnel, made an initial tour of areas such as Robertsdale, Atmore, Flomaton and Brewton.

At the Robertsdale site, Lance acted as a runner -- taking food to cars of waiting people after volunteer cooks had prepared the meals in a feeding unit supplied by the state convention.

"While I was serving food, I saw upscale SUVs and older cars all waiting in line for the same thing -- a hot meal and a helping hand," Lance said. "Crisis experiences like Hurricane Ivan are great equalizers. People of all backgrounds in terms of education, wealth and ethnicity are brought together in a sense of common need."

On returning to his office in Montgomery, Lance authorized his staff of state missionaries to participate in the feeding and cleanup efforts.

"It is important for us to be 'hands-on' in response to this crisis," Lance told his staff. "Overnight arrangements will be primitive, so be prepared to take a sleeping bag and change of clothes as power is still out in most areas."

Bobby DuBois, associate executive director of the Alabama convention, noted that anyone in a hurricane-damaged area who needs assistance with damaged trees, limbs and other debris to be moved to the edge of property or help with temporary coverings for damaged roofs may call 1-877-824-9826. This service will be shared with Southern Baptists and other volunteer partners working with FEMA.

Lance also praised local Baptist officials, typically called directors of missions, who serve as the key leaders of Baptist associations in counties across south Alabama.

"These associational missionaries offer examples of Christian servanthood during this extraordinary time of need," Lance observed. "The people affected by this terrible weather are very grateful for the help provided by these leaders in their incarnational witness for Jesus Christ."

Financial contributions to assist Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief ministries may send a check to: "Disaster Relief," State Board of Missions, P.O. Box 11870, Montgomery, AL 36111-0870. Financial contributions to relief efforts in Florida may be sent to the Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville, FL 32207 and designated for hurricane relief. Contributions to offset costs of the disaster relief response also can be given to the North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.


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