Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Truck and Trailer

Natural disasters can devastate a community and even a region. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) employs hundreds of volunteers around the country to meet peoples’ needs after disaster, and to introduce them to Jesus Christ.

By Mark Harris

The state of Vermont endured historic flooding in July 2023, the worst since Tropical Storm Irene hit the landlocked state in 2011. Rivers overflowed, with the Winooski in Montpelier cresting at 21.02 feet, the highest since 1927.[1] Two people died, including one hiker on the Appalachian Trial.[2] Local police, fire, and emergency medical services responded, as did the National Guard from Vermont and the surrounding states. The American Red Cross arrived to provide shelter and other services.

Other groups came to Vermont to help, but with much less fanfare, including the Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, and Billy Graham’s chaplains. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sent hundreds of volunteer responders to help flood victims recover. I joined the West Virginia team in Barre VT, from 23 to 29 July. Led by Ron W and supported by Roy P. (SBDR’s incident commander), our group of eight tackled recovery jobs throughout the region.

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Revitalizing a Local Church

How leaders and members can revitalize a local church.

By Mark D, Harris

Each year, Southern Baptists birth 1,000 local churches per year and bury 900 local churches. Membership numbers at churches within the Southern Baptist Convention lag the population growth in the US. In part, this is because formerly Baptist churches no longer wish to be associated with the name Southern Baptist, which has unfortunate connections to American slavery.  Many of these churches change their names and continue with solid Biblical teaching as before. Christ is still being proclaimed, and there seems little reason for concern.

In America, sadly, fewer people, Protestant or Catholic, are attending church at all. Secularists rejoice, believing that religion is inherently bad.[1] Some hope that religious beliefs of all varieties will wane as science advances, personal freedom increases, and economic conditions improve around the world.[2] This hope is not new…people like Voltaire held it centuries ago.

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A Theology of Missions

Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. Why don’t we take Him seriously?

By Mark D. Harris

18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19″Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This passage, so brief and so full of meaning and power to the followers of Jesus Christ, has changed the world.  The day that Jesus died, probably sometime in the spring of 30 AD, there were about 120 people who followed Him.  That night and the following Sabbath they cowered, despairing at the death of the One they loved so much, bewildered about what they were supposed to do next, and desperately hoping that the authorities were not going to murder them too.  When Sunday came and they found the tomb empty, these emotions mixed with a too-good-to-be-true excitement.  When they finally saw Him and realized that Jesus had really risen from the dead, the worries and questions dissolved into answers.  The One they loved had beaten death, their next task was whatever He directed, and they no longer cared what the authorities did.  If Jesus defeated death, those who loved Him would too.

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World Evangelism

Should we tell others about Jesus? If we don’t, the stones will cry out.

By Mark D. Harris

Evangelism, loosely defined as trying to get others to believe and practice a particular religious faith, has received a bad reputation in many circles in the last century. David Livingstone, the famous 19th century explorer-doctor-missionary in Southern Africa, reflected his times in his belief that Civilization, Commerce and Christianity would help Africa and the undeveloped world out of poverty and into relationship with Christ. He did not support European colonialism but others in his era did, and the association of the “3 Cs” with colonialism generated a backlash against missionary work in the post colonial era.

Evangelism also presupposes that the evangelist knows the true religion and the one being evangelized does not. Such a claim to knowledge cuts against the grain of moral relativism (“there is no true religion”) and can suggest that one man is inherently superior to another. It is difficult for any man to preach a belief system without importing his unseen cultural biases into his message, and the inherent conflict in trying to change another’s way of thinking can result in violence.

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