SBTC Disaster Relief ministers to flood victims and migrant shelters in Rio Grande Valley

July 8th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

*** UPDATED JULY 8 ***

HARLINGEN   Just two days after the one-year anniversary of the region’s historic June 2018 floods, the Rio Grande Valley again suffered damage when rainfall of 4 to 6 inches fell upon Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron counties, prompting Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration for those areas. The McAllen Monitor reported over 100 flood rescues in Hidalgo County alone.

The June 24-25 weather event combined with the ongoing migrant crisis to create multiple states of emergency along the Texas/Mexico border, sending Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief volunteers and units wrapping up deployments in Oklahoma to South Texas to minister to flood victims and assist migrant release shelters. (See article: Southern Baptists respond to border crisis)

The SBTC DR Quick Response kitchen, a food trailer, deployed to Raymondville from Salem-Sayers Baptist Church in San Antonio on Sat., June 29, and set up feeding operations in the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church serving flood victims. A shower and laundry unit from Hillcrest Baptist in Jasper also arrived in Raymondville to support a Red Cross flood relief shelter.

The QR kitchen ended operations in Raymondville on Mon., July 1, as the SBTC DR’s mass care unit came online in nearby Harlingen, SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice told the TEXAN.

The mass care unit, housed at First Baptist Harlingen, features two large kitchen feeding units from First Baptist Brownsville, Stice said, adding that utility task vehicles from FBC Flint were also on site to assist the work of the mass feeding kitchens.

SBTC DR feeding volunteers prepared 1,540 meals the evening of Mon., July 1, in Harlingen and averaged more than 5,000 meals per day thereafter, in support of Red Cross relief efforts in the area, Stice said, adding that feeding operations are expected to draw to a close in mid-July as the need decreases.

“It’s been a real successful deployment,” John Robertson, SBTC DR incident commander the week of July 1, said. “We’ve had excellent relationships with the Red Cross and with First Baptist Harlingen. It’s been an extremely busy year. We [DR volunteers] just see each other on the road a lot.”

SBTC DR chaplains, assessors and crews also deployed to the Valley. Mud-out operations commenced July 6 as floodwaters receded and a team from First Baptist Pflugerville arrived in Harlingen, Stice confirmed. Even before mud-out work began, 210 “Harvey” relief buckets containing emergency supplies were distributed to victims.

Mud-out teams are being housed at Harlingen’s Calvary Baptist Church and supported by a shower unit from the Top O’ Texas Baptist Association and a laundry unit from Calvary Baptist in Beaumont.

The Rio Grande Valley overall deployment may last a month, Stice said. Thus far, chaplains and assessors have made scores of spiritual contacts, prayed with dozens and seen 21 individuals trust Christ as Savior, as volunteers begin completing work orders.

Chaplains Wayne and Ann Barber assessed the Raymondville home of a lady in her 70s, asking her if she had ever accepted Christ.

“I think I’m saved,” she replied.

With the woman’spermission, Ann explained the plan of salvation. The lady prayed for Jesus to save her.

“I thought I was saved all this time,” she exclaimed.

Tears filled the lady’s eyes as the Barbers explained that they prayed for “divine appointments” each night, and told her, “We prayed for you last night.”

“The Lord’s been blessing. He’s been doing it,” Wayne said.

SBTC DR teams will coordinate with Texas Baptist Men volunteers to serve the area, where more than 2,000 homes were flooded, Stice confirmed, adding that Alabama Baptist Convention DR volunteers are also expected.

The South Texas deployments come on the heels of almost a month of service in Oklahoma, where SBTC DR teams joined Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma DR volunteers and others to minister to the communities of Blackwell and Webbers Falls, completing some 135 flood relief jobs in the two areas.