SBTC DR quick response kitchens serve up food, hope and salvation to Dallas tornado victims
October 24th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
DALLAS – Within a day after multiple tornadoes cut a swath through Dallas and surrounding cities on Sunday, Oct. 20, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief deployed two quick response feeding units staffed with volunteers to meet the immediate needs of victims in the hardest hit areas of North Dallas and Richardson.
A QR unit from First Baptist The Colony arrived in Dallas on Monday, Oct. 21, setting up operations in a parking lot adjacent to the heavily damaged Home Depot at 11682 Forest Lane. On Sunday the home improvement store’s manager had closed the store 30 minutes before storms hit, local news outlets reported.
SBTC DR team members shared the Home Depot parking lot space with downed trees and twisted light poles, plus trucks, trailers and heavy equipment from utility companies and the city. Neighbors, first responders, utility workers and security personnel helped themselves to hot sandwiches served with smiles and friendly words by yellow-clad DR volunteers.
“It means a lot, not just for the officers here, the law enforcement and first responders—the things the church does, going out and helping the citizens in need,” Deputy Michael Perez of the Dallas marshal’s department, told the TEXAN as he grabbed a hamburger and potato chips from SBTC DR worker Tom Kammerer. “When a disaster hits, it’s good to have good Christian people out here who are doing this stuff. It brings hope to everybody in the community,” Perez added.
DR feeding crews at the Home Depot site served hundreds, especially Monday and Tuesday, before electricity was restored to the area. Neighboring Dickey’s and Cane’s restaurants brought donated meals which the SBTC DR crews distributed on Monday before cooking the following days.
Homeless persons came for food. Residents of nearby apartment buildings, including many from a senior citizens’ complex, drove by to pick up hot meals, grateful for the food since their homes had no power.
Sometimes visitors received nourishment for the soul, as John Pecoraro, FBC The Colony’s pastor of evangelism and students, saw. Pecoraro used Google Translate to explain the gospel to a young Honduran man also named John.
“Each of them had their phone and they were using Google Translate, and the young gentleman prayed to receive Christ,” said SBTC DR incident leader Robin Hull.
The SBTC QR unit came to FBC The Colony from Houston’s First Baptist, which had used it during Hurricane Harvey and made it available to the DFW-area church. FBC The Colony shares responsibility for the unit with FBC Leonard, Hull said.
Hull and others on the feeding team had only recently returned from Vidor, where they ministered to Imelda victims.
“We just try to serve people and meet their needs,” Hull said.
While the QR kitchen at the Forest Drive Home Depot remained busy, a second quick response unit from Salem-Sayers Baptist Church near San Antonio set up operations Tuesday, Oct. 22, in a small shopping center parking lot at Buckingham and Audelia in Richardson. The diverse neighborhood, a mixture of strip malls, upper and lower income homes, shops and apartments, was without power until Tuesday, DR volunteer Connie Roark confirmed.
Before power was restored, volunteers served hundreds of sandwiches to residents, shopkeepers, first responders, utility workers and city employees from Dallas and Richardson and neighboring communities such as Balch Springs, McKinney and Lewisville.
Spiritual conversations also occurred, including with Muslim shopkeepers in the strip mall.
Roark recalled one young lady who approached, distraught.
“Can we pray?” Roark asked her.
“Yes,” she replied.
Roark found herself saying things in the prayer she would not typically say, asking God to reveal himself, exclaiming to God that he had dominion over everything.
“You know, I’m Muslim,” the girl said when they finished praying. “We believe in Jesus, but we believe he is a prophet,” she added.
“He is our Lord and Savior,” Roark responded. “He is the one who gives us hope.”
The two hugged afterward.
“I hugged ‘em all,” Roark said with a chuckle. “I’m a hugger.”
The QR kitchens stood down Wednesday, Oct. 23, as recovery units geared up to assist victims, according to Wally Leyerle, SBTC DR associate.
“When the electricity comes back on, the demand for our QR kitchens decreases quickly,” SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice said of the typically short deployment that offered both immediate help and eternal promise.