Hurricane Sandy ResponseFound 27 stories for this story collection.
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Hurricane changes view of N.Y. community toward faith
NEW YORK (BP) -- Hurricane Sandy was a tragedy in the Northeast, but God used the life-altering superstorm to change the hearts of people in Rockaway Beach, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, from totally disinterested in the Gospel to yearning for spiritual guidance.A couple of years ago, Larry Holcomb, director of Urban Impact, a ministry connected with a Southern Baptist congregation in New York, arranged for the purchase of a large old house in a rough part of Rockaway Beach, not fathoming what God would do next.After renovating the beach house, Holcomb moved in bunk beds to house short-term mission teams coming to New York to help Urban Impact reach immigrants in the city through language and job training classes.
With a goal of launching Beach Church in the summer of 2013, Holcomb and others this past summer handed out about 5,000 invitations to Bible studies in Rockaway Beach.
"We went door-to-door, handing them out to people," Holcomb, a former North American Mission Board church planter, told Baptist Press. "We got less than a dozen responses. Through that, from the surrounding community, maybe five people had come to Bible study. So that was a ratio of 5 to 5,000. We knew it was a hard neighborhood. People don't have the time or the interest in spiritual things.
"But after the tragedy, we've handed out thousands of tracts and Bibles, and people eagerly say, 'Can I have this?' 'Can you please give me this? I need this guidance.' They're asking us for prayer and saying, 'Can you please come to my house?'
"It has really turned around the spiritual openness of the neighborhood, and where before we were slaving away to find someone who had any interest, now the problem is, How can we possibly have time to address these hundreds and hundreds who are asking us to help them understand the Bible and get closer to God?" Holcomb said. Read More
Thanksgiving after the storm: Reflections on life & faith
NEW YORK CITY (BP) -- Thanksgiving in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has prompted new reflections on life and faith among those who were impacted and those who came to their aid.
The writer of Proverbs 27 warns that a man does not know what a day may bring. Few expected that a hurricane would cause as much devastation in the New York and New Jersey areas and other parts of the East as residents there are coping with now.
In this article, pastors and disaster relief workers share their thoughts on Thanksgiving in light of Sandy.
-- Fritz Wilson, the North American Mission Board's executive director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, noted to Baptist Press, "As a kid I always looked forward to Thanksgiving Day. Not just because it meant Christmas was a month away, but also because we got to watch the giant balloons in the New York Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, eats lots of food and watch football.
"On Thanksgiving Day 2012, most people across the country will only think about the parades, food and football in the New York area," Wilson wrote. "But for me, I will be thankful for something much more important, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers who continually respond en masse to New York and New Jersey. Their mission is to simply bring help, healing and hope to people and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy almost one month ago.
"Since Sandy's landfall more than 2,500 SBDR volunteers have responded to the people affected by the storm's fury," Wilson wrote. "Leaving home, family and friends, they have driven thousands of miles from across the country to serve people in the name of Jesus.
"While most folks are celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends at home, hundreds of SBDR volunteers will be preparing thousands of meals, helping homeowners clean up their homes and providing a hug to hurting families simply because they care and want to show Christ's love in a practical and selfless way," Wilson wrote.
"So when you join with your family to give thanks, stop and say a prayer of thanks for the SBDR volunteers who are giving of themselves in the New York and New Jersey areas, and for the people who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy."
-- Mike Flannery, disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of New York, wrote, "There comes a time in the lives of people that we need to put aside the idea that if a disaster is not in our area that it does not affect us.
"In this global economy we have become interdependent and we are responsible because of our commission to share the Word. Many times when we are out in the area where the disaster has taken place, people spontaneously say 'thank you' to us," Flannery wrote. Read More
Graffiti shines 'light' in Sandy's aftermathNEW YORK CITY (BP) -- East 7th Baptist Church has prayed for the toughest assignments in serving the neediest people. In God's care, the church has ministered through 9/11 and now is a healing balm to survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Read More
Sandy meal count tops 1.2M; next: church partnerships
EDISON, N.J. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers deployed after Hurricane Sandy had prepared more than 1.2 million meals as of Monday (Nov. 19) in New York, New Jersey and, earlier, in West Virginia.As more power is restored to homes in the hardest-hit areas, SBDR leaders said the need will diminish for meal preparation by SBDR units deployed from numerous states.
Volunteers also have reported 56 individuals who have made professions of faith in Christ as a result of SBDR ministry.On the horizon: The North American Mission Board will coordinate both church-to-church partnerships in the region and the mobilization of student volunteers for long-term ministry and service in the Northeast.
"The church-to-church initiative in response to Sandy will be different in nature than that of the response to Hurricane Katrina," said Jerry Daniel, team leader for the North American Mission Board's LoveLoud emphasis.
While the church partnerships fostered in the wake of Katrina focused in large part on the physical rebuild and repair of church infrastructure, the aftermath of Sandy will see a different ministry emphasis, Daniel said.
"There was not a lot of damage to church facilities, so the church-to-church aspect of Sandy will focus on churches partnering with churches in the affected area to do work in the community," Daniel said. "This will provide the local churches a platform with their neighbors. The assistance given by partnering churches will allow for an increased bandwidth of ministry by local churches in the Northeast."
Planning and logistics also continue for mobilizing college students to assist with cleanup operations over the winter break. Details for the volunteer opportunity for students and the church-to-church initiative will be available soon, Daniel said. Read More
Mold, flood damage: SBDR training availableNEW YORK CITY (BP) -- New York and New Jersey homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy are finding help in protecting their homes from ongoing mold and flood damage through training provided by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Read More
'Body of Christ in action' amid Hoboken's woes from Sandy
HOBOKEN, N.J. (BP) -- Two weeks after superstorm Sandy tore through New Jersey, thousands of people still lack food, clothing and water. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, nearly half of Hoboken's population of 50,000 was trapped in their homes by floodwaters.It's in this setting that the members of Hoboken Grace Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, have been ministering tirelessly since the morning after the storm hit.
"We began by moving crews of volunteers to pump out basements," the church's pastor, Chris High, told Baptist Press. "As the water began to subside, we transitioned our teams to move from apartment to apartment assisting our neighbors and local charity organizations in cleaning out their destroyed apartments, offices and buildings."
Hoboken is a 2-square-mile city across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and it is home to many middle- and upper-class people under the age of 35, according to The Star-Ledger in Newark. As many as 90 percent of the residents were without power after the storm, and National Guard trucks were brought in to rescue people who could not escape their flooded homes.
The city's sidewalks have been completely covered with trash, High said. Garbage trucks in the city typically collect 62 tons of trash per day, The Star-Ledger said, but since the hurricane that number has increased to 309 tons as people lost many of their possessions to the floodwaters.
Hoboken Grace assisted a local food pantry that had been flooded. Members helped salvage what they could and then helped establish a new location from which the pantry could operate, High said.
"We also began collecting supplies ourselves and delivering them to the local housing authority," the pastor said.
In the immediate aftermath, Hoboken Grace set up three grill stations in local housing projects to provide warm meals for people who were without electricity.
"Throughout all of this it has been phenomenal to watch people give and to watch those with power and heat take in those without," High said. "This not only provided for those in need but also enabled us to come out day after day ready to assist those around us in any way possible."
Hoboken Grace lost its offices to the flood, and High and his wife were out of their apartment while post-flooding repairs were being made.
"We've got a long road ahead," he said, "... but we're seeing what the body of Christ looks like in action." Read More
Baptists to expand Sandy DR into DecemberEDISON, N.J. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders are preparing to continue superstorm Sandy feeding efforts into December, and have opened a new avenue of service with long-term national implications."Although we've been told by New York officials that some of our kitchen operations may consolidate in the state, they told us to expect to continue providing meals into December," said Fritz Wilson, North American Mission Board disaster relief executive director. Read More
FEMA chief praises Baptist DR; chaplains becoming a key need
EDISON, N.J. (BP) -- On the 11th day after landfall of Hurricane Sandy, more than 750 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were continuing to aid survivors in hard-hit communities. Their work has not gone unnoticed.Craig Fugate, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, voiced appreciation to SBDR leaders in a conference call Nov. 7 for their response to Sandy.
"Thanks to everyone," said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator. "It has been a busy time. The president and the rest of the team appreciate Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. This will not be a short response. We still have a lot to do. Until people are back in their homes, Southern Baptist [volunteers] will be needed. Thank you for all that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has done."
Coordinating logistics with FEMA, the American Red Cross (ARC), The Salvation Army, state and local governments is a daily task for SBDR leaders. The North American Mission Board routinely maintains representation at the FEMA and ARC national headquarters for the duration of large-scale disaster responses such as Sandy.
The recognition of that service came quickly from another government leader in the hard-hit community of Middletown, N.J., this week, Gov. Chris Christie.
"Ah, my friends with disaster relief," the New Jersey governor said when he met SBDR volunteers from Oklahoma serving in Middletown Nov. 5. Christie thanked the volunteers for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the people of his state.
SBDR volunteers who were among the first responders to Sandy will begin heading home soon. Replacement teams will begin arriving this weekend and into next week. One of those units is a Tennessee recovery team, which completed its 18th job Friday in the Norwalk, Ct., area.
Maryland-Delaware incident commander Carl Brill reported an interesting occurrence in Crisfield, Md., where local leaders developed a system to collect needs and communicate them to volunteers.
"They are using white towels to identify homes where help is needed," Brill said. ... Read More
Staten Island church takes long-term aimSTATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (BP) -- Back in the winter when New York City tried to push churches out of public schools, Crossroads Church on Staten Island didn't know God was moving them to a new location that later would be right up the block from some of the most severe devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. Read More