Who can forget the images? Mass destruction. Public
displays of fear, anger, grief. Then visions of hope. People praying openly.
Flags everywhere. The confluence of our symbols of country with our symbols of
faith, a long-awaited combination for Gods people who know that America was
founded on Christian principles.
More roads convergeministry and evangelism. Providing that cup to nourish
some-one in need and introduce Jesus living water, praying that our recipient
will come to know and accept the one true Giver.
Were working hard to provide relief. Were behind the scenesin our churches
praying, supporting, helping however needed. And were on site, wherepraise
Godour comfort reaches those in need. It provides testimony to the people who
dont know Him wherever media coverage extends as our relief workers make the
You may have heard interviews with President Bushs Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Joe M. Allbaugh. He says that
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are the main providers of hot meals
during American Red Cross operations. This network of 20,000 volunteers is
coordinated by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in cooperation with
Southern Baptist state conventions.
Approximately 7,500 meals were provided from the Pentagon parking lot on the
day after the attack. Only two days later search and rescue workers in
Manhattan received their first of an eventual maximum daily capacity of 50,000
meals. These mobile kitchen units turn out nutritious hot mealsbeef stew,
chicken casseroles, fresh vegetables and fruit.
Staging areasas energetic volunteers call locations hosting kitchen, shower
and communications unitsare abuzz with hope-filled feedback. One example: A Red
Cross volunteer took time to research our Web site and emailed thanks very much
from a grateful American. He wrote: As a liberal atheist, there are very few
things the SBC and I agree on. But he described the care he received and his
new view of our efforts. Hot meals provided by the SBC were sincerely
appreciated by all the people there, residents and volunteers alike. Often
these were the main meals of the day. I was impressed by both the volume and
quality of the food you provided. He included his name and email address,
perhaps aware that this might invite follow-up.
In addition to disaster relief volunteers we have scores of dedicated
chaplains counseling grief-stricken families and hurting citizens plus fire
fighters, police officers and others facing unimaginable horror in the rubble
of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
I had heard about the 1,000-mile stare, that look of unbearable grief that
our volunteers and chaplains encounter as they comfortand pray withfamilies and
workers. Its an eerie facial expression, but its real. When I visited sites
soon after the attacks, those expressions communicated to me that people are
searching. They need answers and hope.
Thats why NAMB joined other SBC agencies to sponsor full-page ads in
newspapers such as USA Today. We
challenged citizens to consider how America will rebuild, and we encouraged
unbelievers to find hope in Christ Who will provide the only love, joy and
peace thats truly lasting.
I end with words from President Bush and evangelist Billy Graham. Bush
thanked God for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.
Graham told a grieving nation: We now have a choice: Whether to implode and
disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nationor whether we
choose to become stronger through this struggleto rebuild on a solid
foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. I believe we are in the
process of starting to rebuild on that foundation.
Bob Reccord is president of the
North American Mission Board, SBC, and author of the book Forged by Fire:
How God Shapes Those He Loves (Broadman
& Holman Publishers, 2000).
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC