Commentary: Physical help leads to spiritual benefit


As soon as word began to spread about the massive and deadly flooding in Kentucky, Georgia Baptists responded.

Several Disaster Relief crews from the Georgia Baptist Mission Board mobilized, arriving in Kentucky on Aug. 1. Dwain Carter, who oversees those efforts for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said what they found when they got there “will rip at your heart.”

Carter and the team arrived in the towns of Jenkins and Fleming-Neon in mountainous Letcher County to find houses off their foundations, residents with many of their belongings ruined and piled in their yards, and others mourning the loss of loved ones, friends, and neighbors. The statewide death toll from the historic flooding is 37.

“It is a lot of devastation, a lot of heartbreak,” said Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Bob Sprinkel. “People’s lives are really upended. They’ve lost so much.”

Carter says teams will shovel mud and debris from homes, cart away soggy furnishings, do recovery work and assess damages. They will also set up feeding, laundry, and shower units.

Residents are grateful for the support. “What a blessing to have them here,” Fleming-Neon resident Thelma Hall said. “I wish I had the money to pay them what they’re worth.”

“We’re just glad to be here doing what God has called us to do,” said Georgia Baptist volunteer Thomas Young.

In addition to physical help, volunteers provide spiritual support for victims. As Carter describes their mission, Disaster Relief volunteers bring “help, hope and healing while transforming lives with the Gospel.”

Despite the devastation and helplessness, volunteers are making opportunities to share the gospel with flooding victims. On his Facebook page, Carter shared that four people had prayed to receive Christ in as many days.

That eternal impact will far outlast the physical help that, though desperately needed, will fade with time.