SHAWNEE—Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) continues to do work on multiple fronts. According to Jason Yarbrough, state director for DR, relief work continues after wildfires and a series of tornadoes and severe storms in Oklahoma.

“We are seeking to provide the help and hope people need in the wake of these devastating circumstances and also point them to the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ,” Yarbrough said.

According to a report on May 3, there have been eight professions of faith in Christ during the recent response efforts. Yarbrough shared the story of one property owner who was initially hesitant to have DR volunteers help him or tell him about God.

“This homeowner was a self-proclaimed atheist,” Yarbrough said. “He allowed DR volunteers to help him with his needs and a chaplain shared the Gospel. In just a matter of days, this man went from an atheist to a follower of Jesus.”

Oklahoma Baptist DR has served in the Edmond and Guthrie areas after the wildfires on March 31, having completed 30 jobs. “A huge thanks to Pastor Heath Tucker and the church family at Edmond, Waterloo Road for allowing us to use their facility for three-plus weeks,” Yarbrough said.

Tornado relief work continues

Oklahoma Baptist DR continues to serve in the tornado response.

“As of May 2, all work associated with the April 19 tornadoes is being processed through our command center at Shawnee, Immanuel,” Yarbrough said. “While at Cole, First our teams completed 60 work orders for that area. This community experienced the loss of two individuals. Our chaplains were able to do some ministry here with families as well as with first responders. A big thank you to Kurt Bloomstadt and the church family at Cole, First for opening their facility to our volunteers.

“The Shawnee, Immanuel site is an active place,” Yarbrough continued. “To date we have received 283 work orders and have completed 142 of those—that’s pretty amazing for 10 days of work.”

This week, DR has approximately 70 volunteers working between incident management, feeding, assessors/chaplains and chainsaw teams. This includes DR teams from Texas Baptist Men, Missouri, Kansas/Nebraska and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention along with Oklahoma teams.

In the aftermath of the devastating tornadoes at OBU, Yarbrough said, “Our Shawnee response included four days on the OBU campus with anywhere from 10-40 volunteers daily—clearing trees and debris as well as feeding students and volunteers. We anticipate being in the Shawnee area for at least the next two weeks and possibly an additional week. Pastor Jeff DeGiacomo and the Shawnee, Immanuel family have been incredible as they opened their campus up for us to use!”

Other ministry numbers include the following:

  • 51 presentations of the Gospel
  • 424 ministry contacts
  • 221 Chaplaincy contacts
  • More than 9,000 meals served
  • More than 600 showers provided
  • More than 200 loads of laundry completed
  • 1,211 volunteer days served
  • 984 heavy equipment hours logged
  • 310 boxes distributed for families to pack up belongings in Shawnee

“What a privilege to lead this incredible Oklahoma Baptists Ministry!” Yarbrough said.