WHITESBURG, Ky. (KT) --- When Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers show up in disaster areas, such as the flood ravaged communities of eastern Kentucky, they come to offer more than just physical help. They also come to share the hope of the gospel.
82-year-old Ruth Gibson of Whitesburg was able to escape the flood waters, but she lost most of her earthly possessions.
“I got a house, and that’s about it. I don’t have any furniture. You can see what we got left there,” Gibson said, pointing to a trailer filled with muddy items removed from her home.
A Kentucky Disaster Relief team is doing what it can to clean out Gibson’s home of 50 years and prepare it for rebuilding.
It is hot and messy work, and team leader Tommy Floyd says there is no place else he would rather be.
“The love of Jesus Christ in us – it’s the only thing that would motivate anybody to do this,” Floyd told Kentucky Today.
For this team and other disaster relief volunteers, the work is about more than manual labor. It is about showing and sharing the love of Christ.
“In many of these homes, they’ll spend two or three days cleaning out one home,” said Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Director Ron Crow. “That translates into time spent with the homeowner, building those relationships, and loving on them – that’s the ministry that’s really happening.”
That is the real mission of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief – meeting the physical needs in order to address the spiritual needs.
“God’s got divine appointments for us all, and when people are at their lowest, that’s when they can hear Him most,” said Floyd.
Team members never know when those divine appointments might come.
Peggy Hicks was working as a cook in the food ministry. She never expected to have a chance to share the gospel, but it happened while she was on break when a woman approached her.
“I put my arm around her, and she said, ‘I just need help. I’ve lost everything. I’ve lost my home and everything,” Hicks recounted. “I said, ‘Can I pray with you?’ And she said, ‘I would love that.’”
Hicks said that prayer led to a conversation about the woman’s faith.
“She said, ‘You know, I thought I had a faith.’ And I said, ‘Well you can. And we’ll be happy to help you get it right.’ And so, we did. We prayed right there and explained what it means to love Jesus and follow him, and to have that hope.”
The woman’s husband was overjoyed.
“She prayed to receive Christ, and her husband jumped out of the car and said, ‘I’ve been trying to get her to place her faith in Christ and it happened today.’ So, we praise the Lord for that,” said Crow.
“I’m just on Cloud 9 right now,” said Hicks. “God showed me that I’m not here just to cook, and he can use me wherever I am.”
Back at Ruth Gibson’s house, the team has learned that she is already a sister in Christ.
“These people are Christians. We already spoke to them about their relationship with the Lord. In fact, the lady goes to church just across the river there,” said Floyd.
When the work is done, the disaster relief crew will pray with the family and leave behind a Bible signed by the entire team.
“We hand those Bibles out and we love on those homeowners, and we see the difference that’s made in the lives of those people,” said Crow. “That’s why we do what we do.”
Gibson was grateful for the divine appointment.
“I know the good Lord sent them,” she said. “I knew from the start I would be OK.”