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SBTC DR volunteers assist flood victims in Central, Southeast and South Texas

November 30th, 2015 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

SBTC DR volunteers assist flood victims in Central, Southeast and South Texas

AUSTIN and KOUNTZE—In recent weeks, Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief volunteers have been on constant deployment in response to needs in flood-ravaged Central, Southeast and South Texas. Volunteers have traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, Austin, Bastrop, San Marcos and Kountze, which is 25 miles northwest of Beaumont.

“We’ve been busy since Oct. 31,” SBTC Director of Disaster Relief Scottie Stice said. “We are gearing up to return to the Rio Grande Valley soon.”

Daniel White became senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Kountze on Nov. 1, only to spend the first three weeks of his new job as an SBTC DR white hat, responding to flooding in Kountze, Silsbee, Lumberton and surrounding areas.

“We have been extremely busy,” White commented. “We are worn out.” White and his family are also still “stepping over boxes at home,” since they had barely moved into their Kountze residence when the floods hit.

FBC Kountze housed DR volunteer teams, including a mud out team from Kentucky that arrived Nov. 15. Work in the area was finished Nov. 20. More than 100 homes were assessed, with work done on most of these. Eight people prayed to receive Christ, White said.

SBTC shower and laundry units ministered to 40 flood evacuees in Bastrop and worked with AmeriCorps in San Marcos, said Mike Jansen, who served as SBTC white hat in Austin the week of Nov. 7-14. Austin-area DR volunteers were housed at Onion Creek Baptist Church, Jansen said.

Carol Yarber of Athens, on her first DR deployment, drew upon her Catholic upbringing as she ministered in Hispanic areas of South Austin.

“I was going to be a nun,” Yarber said of her childhood. “I can speak with Catholics about where they are. My aunt was even paying a dowry for me to go into the convent, up till I was [a teenager].”

Yarber said she speaks with Catholic victims about original sin, christening and the need to believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, according to Romans 10:9-10.

Yarber told of accompanying assessors into the field in South Austin as a chaplain. “I can love on [victims], pray for them, find out about their relationship with the Lord.”

On the first day of Yarber’s deployment, she went with assessors to a house condemned by authorities. There Yarber met Lisa, a young woman to whom she explained the plan of salvation, asking the question, “From what I have shown you, where do you believe you would go if you died tonight?”

“I know I’d go to hell,” Lisa replied.

Yarber continued to explain the gospel, and Lisa trusted Christ as her savior.

A few days into the deployment, Yarber met Rosa, a young woman six months pregnant who had survived a horrifying flood experience when she returned home after dropping her children off at school.

“Rosa’s husband helped her escape,” Yarber said. “The creek in front and behind her house was swelling. They could not drive out. Her husband told her, ‘Get your boots on.  We’ve got to run for it.’ Yarber tearfully recalled, “Here she was, six months pregnant, climbing a hill with the water pulling her back.

“Rosa, do you know God saved you when you got to the top of that hill?” Yarber asked. “He saved you so he could save you today.” Rosa, too, prayed to receive Christ.

In one severely damaged home, Yarber encountered a man named Juan working inside. He had been cross with other DR volunteers. When Yarber informed him she was there to tell him that Jesus loved him and that she would like to pray with him, Juan broke down and cried.

“He had found Jesus in prison and had been baptized,” Yarber said.

Broken, Juan exclaimed, “I have been so disobedient to God. God told me to go and tell others. I knew he wanted me to preach, and I haven’t. I just needed this today.” 

“It was not a matter of his salvation, but it was a great moment,” Yarber said.

For rookie DR chaplain Carol Yarber, DR ministry is a calling she plans to continue. Her story is merely one of many from the field, where DR volunteers bring hope to the hopeless and minister in tangible and eternal ways.

“We tried to do the best for the people of Onion Creek. A lot had suffered in the floods two years ago. We greatly appreciate the teams from Missouri that came to help do the mud outs,” said Jansen, praising the volunteers who came alongside SBTC personnel.

Between Nov. 1-14, the following SBTC DR volunteer hours and work were logged:

  • 758 total volunteer days
  • 7,580 total volunteer hours
  • 21,623 meals prepared
  • 142 flooded homes cleaned
  • 211 damaged homes assessed
  • 16 professions of faith