On May 20th, 2013, a massive tornado ripped through the heart of Moore, Oklahoma, leaving 24 people dead and nearly 400 injured. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Director, Sam Porter, knew the devastation would be heart-wrenching. “Nothing is as destructive as an F5 tornado, and I’ve seen every kind of disaster in the world,” Porter said. Within 20 minutes, he made his way to the First Baptist Church of Moore. Two and a half hours later, the Disaster Relief meal truck was on-site preparing what would be more than 206,000 meals in 40 days. But the organization does far more than serve hot meals.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief maintains heavy equipment capable of clearing the massive debris left behind by natural disasters. This capability is a huge relief to homeowners who would otherwise pay $4,000 to $8,000 to have debris removed from their properties. In the wake of the Moore storms, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief performed more than $4 million worth of demolition and debris removal absolutely free. The organization also provided extensive emotional and trauma counseling while distributing Bibles and providing ministry services to storm victims. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief had close to 1,500 ministry contacts on the ground helping victims learn about the love of Christ. Between 70 and 100 people chose to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior after meeting with Disaster Relief volunteers. “We do disaster relief in order to earn the right to share the gospel,” Porter said. “God always shows up in the middle of disaster.”