MOORE, Okla. – Oklahoma Baptists continue to help in the recovery efforts after May 19-20 tornadoes affected many Oklahoma communities. Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) maintains mobile command centers in Moore and Shawnee and has provided chainsaw teams, chaplains and feeding units that are supplying meals for volunteers and victims.
Along with the hundreds of DR volunteers, many local Baptist churches also are having an impact on their respective communities. “The response through volunteering and giving from Oklahoma Baptists and our sister states has been nothing short of heroic,” said Sam Porter, Disaster Relief Director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and Highland Baptist Church in Moore are just two congregations that have supported victims through providing food, resources and refuge.
“We have been receiving lots of supplies,” said Mark DeMoss, pastor of Capitol Hill, “everything from water to fruit and all kinds of food items, clothes, lots of hygiene (products), tools, gloves and flashlights. What our church has been doing is keeping everything organized so folks can come here and basically do a shopping run. They can go through all the items, pick up what is needed, and we’re not limiting anything. We’re not saying they can only pick up ‘this or that.’ If you need it, here take it.”
DeMoss also said his church members have been going out into the affected areas and passing out food and water to those who are doing clean-up. “We have been getting teams out to be able to say, ‘Hey, somebody cares about you. Do you have any other needs?’” he said “It’s been a big deal to let people tell their story and for us to pray with them.”
Highland Church is located approximately three miles east of Interstate 35 and has been a needed haven for nearby victims who have not been able to reach the many supply stations that are west or closer to the highway.
Highland Pastor David Evans and Associate Pastor Ken Kniskern started helping victims within minutes after the tornado struck, and the provisions their church has offered grew enormously in the days that followed.
Kniskern said random people have come to Highland to drop off large supplies.
“A lady drove up with bags full of McDonald’s hamburgers. A guy with his son showed up from Sherman, Texas, in a pickup with a flatbed trailer full of bottled water. He wasn’t with any organization. He just wanted to help.”
Due to limited power, Highland has been using multiple generators on its campus. This has not prevented them from being a main resource provider on the eastside of Moore. Kniskern said since Tuesday, May 21, the church has received close to 12 semi-truck loads of supplies.
“It’s a faith test every day,” said Kniskern. “Because whenever we are meeting together and saying to each other, ‘We really need this,’ or ‘here’s something that would be helpful,’ God shows up and provides it.”
Highland is hosting portable shower facilities that are provided by DR ministry of Union Baptist Association.
Evans and some members of Highland were walking through an adjacent neighborhood to see how they could help victims. He said they met a woman who said she was agnostic. After talking with her and giving her support, Evans and the church members prayed with her. She said she was going to attend Highland on Sunday.
“This encounter would not have happened if not for the tornado,” Evans said about his connection with the woman.
State Southern Baptist churches like Capitol Hill and Highland will continue to support Oklahoma communities until restoration may be reached.