Earlier this year, a large outbreak of wildfires devastated western Oklahoma. According to oklahoma.gov, approximately 152,294 acres of land were burned. Many lost their homes and property to the fires. One of these homeowners was an elderly gentleman named Jerry Kuhlman. Kuhlman had been living in the house his parents built for 87 years until the fires destroyed it.

Oklahoma Disaster Relief Volunteers first met Kuhlman while responding to the damage caused by the fires. The team who assisted Kuhlman tried to get him to relocate, but Kuhlman refused.

“We had first met Jerry during Disaster Relief recovery,” said Apache, First Pastor Jon Syverson, director of the team that assisted Kuhlman. “He kept telling us he did not want to move into town. He was a lifelong resident of the property.”

Oklahoma Disaster Relief volunteer with Jerry. Photo taken by Pastor Jon Syverson.

Two other buildings on Kuhlman’s property were left untouched by the fires: a small barn and a large dog kennel. Since he had nowhere else to stay on his property, Kuhlman opted to sleep in the kennel the night following the fires.

The next morning, the DR response team returned to Kuhlman’s property to check on him and found him sleeping in the kennel. The team knew they could not leave him without a place to sleep.

“It all started with ‘we need to do something’,” said Syverson.

Jerry’s new apartment completed. Photo taken by Pastor Jon Syverson.

Over the next few weeks, DR volunteers returned to Kuhlman’s property multiple times. In those weeks, the team constructed for Kuhlman a studio apartment inside the barn. It was complete with air conditioning, a bed, television, hardwood floors, running water and more. During the construction period, the team shared the Gospel with Kuhlman, but he remained vague on whether he had received Christ.

On a Sunday night, two team members, Steve and Pam, asked him directly if he was a Believer. On that night, Kuhlman accepted Christ into his heart. A part of DR’s mission is to bring the Gospel to those affected by disasters, and through their efforts many, like Kuhlman, have received Christ.

Kuhlman is ecstatic about his new home and has reconnected with Apache, First.

“He has our phone number, and he’s doing well,” Syverson said, “He loves the apartment he’s in.”

For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation to Oklahoma Baptist DR, visit www.okdisasterhelp.org.