What is Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief?

Our world continues to experience devastation and destruction annually.  Man-made events as well as natural disasters continue to challenge our minds with “why.”  Why has this happened?  Why me?  Why my community?  As Believers, we cannot answer the “why,” but we can respond with love and compassion as we help those affected know that they are not forgotten by God.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the three largest disaster response entities in the United States. Trained volunteers stand ready to respond when disasters hit across our globe.  Disaster Relief ministry provides an opportunity for believers to be the hands and feet of Christ to hurting people.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief began ministry in 1984 and is part of the larger Southern Baptist Send Relief network of 42 state conventions, the North American Mission Board, and Baptist Global Response.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is supported by gifts of Kentucky Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions.  This ministry offers opportunities for believers to be on mission for Christ during times of crisis.

The Apostle John instructed us:

“Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

In times of crisis, people need more than empty words.  They need someone to come alongside them with genuine help and real hope.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief brings practical help, the healing grace of Christ, and the hope of the Gospel to those devastated by disaster.  More than 4500 Kentucky Baptists are trained as disaster relief volunteers.  Volunteers can staff mobile kitchens designed to provide thousands of hot meals, move in with a chainsaw after a tornado, assist homeowners in cleaning up a flooded home, offer spiritual care as a chaplain, and provide many other disaster services.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are trained in:

  • Bulk Supply Distribution
  • Chainsaw Ministry
  • Chaplain Care
  • Emergency Childcare
  • Damage Assessment
  • Flood and Wildfire Clean up
  • Mass Feeding
  • Roof Tarping
  • Radio Operations
  • Shower and Laundry Ministry
  • Water Purification and Well Repair

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has a host of resources that can be mobilized during times of disaster.  Resources that can be deployed are:

  • 4 Mobile Kitchens with the capacity to prepare 68,000 meals a day for disaster survivors
  • 27 Chainsaw/Flood/Fire Recovery Trailers
  • 2 Mobile Communication and Command Units
  • 7 Mobile Shower trailers
  • 1 Mobile Laundry Trailer
  • 2 Mobile Childcare Trailers
  • 3 Mobile Water Purification Units
  • 1 Mobile Roof Tarping Trailer
  • 1 Kuboda Skid-Steer
  • 1 Mobile Lift
  • 2 Fork-lifts

To learn how you or your church can get involved in this Kingdom ministry go to http://www.kybaptist.org/dr, or call (502) 489-3527. Our next Disaster Relief training is at Lifepoint Church in Franklin, Kentucky on September 14. You can register for this training at
http://www.kybaptist.org/drtraining/

50-Year Kentucky Missions Partnership

KBC’s Teresa Parrett, with Spartanburg FBC pastor Dr. Don Wilton and Linda Gilden. Linda was on the first Spartanburg FBC Mission Trip to Kentucky 50-years ago.

This past weekend I was once again reminded of the story of a mission team that came to serve in eastern Kentucky.  They had a great week with the children and youth and, when saying their sad goodbyes, a person on the team said, “don’t worry, we will be back,” to which one of the local children replied, “that is what they all say, but they never do.”  That statement gripped the heart of the team member and caused them to change their plans and come back the next year.  It was during that visit that the mother of the child who said “they all say that” accepted Christ as her personal Savior.  This team developed a partnership in eastern Kentucky and came back many times.

Partnerships are important, because it is through partnerships that relationships are built.  In partnerships missions, teams “adopt” a specific location and go multiple times to the same place, perhaps even several times in one year.  They may bring a VBS team on one trip, a construction team on another.  The local residents get to know the team members, develop a bond and look forward to them coming each year.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting and presenting a certificate of appreciation to Spartanburg, SC First Baptist Church who has been partnering with Bell, Knox and surrounding counties for 50 years.

Bell County Associational Mission Strategist Bruce Walzer says he has personally worked with this team for 30 years as they come and do Vacation Bibles Schools, basketball and cheerleading camps, a feeding program and construction.  Bro. Bruce said they do whatever he needs them to do in his association.

Many lives have been touched in those 50 years.  One local lady shared that her children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren came to know Christ through the VBSs of the Spartanburg team and thanked God for their faithfulness to come year after year.  Another man, now in his 50s, shared that he had accepted Christ at one of the VBSs when he was 9-years old.  On a video, child after child confessed, “I gave my heart to Jesus.”

The families of Kentucky are not the only ones impacted by the Spartanburg FBC team.  Leaders of the group say this is where many of their youth shared Jesus for the first time and/or led someone to Christ for the first time.  And, many are in ministry today because they heard the call of God on their lives during Kentucky mission week. 

Linda Gilden, who was on that first mission trip 50 years ago shared about a 5th grade boy that was misbehaving.  She sat down with him and asked what was going on, to which he replied, “nobody cares what I do.”  Linda was able to share with him that she cared, and that God cared. 

This team loves the children and families of eastern Kentucky and come with one purpose, to share the Gospel of Jesus.  Many stories are told of their 50-years of service in Kentucky.  Go to   https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistspartanburg/videos/1120596114794727/ to view their 2019 video and hear many of these stories. 

Thank you, Spartanburg FBC, for your faithfulness.  We will never know, this side of eternity, the huge impact you have made in eastern Kentucky.    May this partnership continue for many years to come.

For information on how to develop a partnership in Kentucky contact [email protected] or 502-489-3530. 

Preparing for Short-term Missions

Have you ever felt strongly compelled be part of something great only later to realize you were extremely unprepared for it?  The call of missions is indeed a great calling.  God certainly calls some to spend long-term amounts of time on mission away from their home.  He also calls others to join His mission through short-term capacities.  Both calls require preparation. 

Short-term missions—individuals and teams joining a long-term missionary’s vision and strategy for advancing the gospel among particular places and peoples—requires much preparation in order to be most effective.   

While there may be times when a mission effort can be pulled together quickly, most often the preparation requires many months.[1]  No rigid timeline exists for short-term missions, but there are some general steps that allow a team to prepare well in advance in order to maximize the impact of the team with the strategy of the host missionary.  Here is a suggested timeline that can be used as a guide:

  • 10 to 12 months prior–determine assignment
  • 9 months prior—determine team leader(s)
  • 9 months prior—publicize mission effort
  • 6 to 9 months prior—recruit team/receive volunteers, deposit due
  • 6 to 9 months prior—contact travel agent to begin searching ticket prices
  • 6 to 9 months prior—schedule initial info meeting, collect bi-monthly or quarterly payments
  • 6 months prior—apply for passport and check requirement for visas
  • 6 months prior—plan team meetings and meet monthly to discuss general mission prep
  • 3 to 4 months prior—purchase plane tickets
  • 3 to 4 months prior—get immunizations (shots!) if necessary
  • 3 to 4 months prior—team meetings should become more specialized according to what the team will be doing on the field
  • 2 months prior—develop prayer team
  • 4 weeks prior—plan commissioning service for team
  • 1 week prior—hold commission service
  • 1 week or month after—plan celebration time with team and/or church

May the Lord use our preparation in short-term missions to have lasting impact among places and peoples in need of knowing Jesus. 


[1] Disaster Relief is an example of mission efforts that take place quickly, but even then, preparation and training have occurred months and even years prior. 

Amazing Grace

Jesus demonstrated to a broken world that “grace” is more powerful, more inviting, and more life-changing than fear, lectures, or judgement.  God’s truth is embraced when we understand that God is good and desires to give us life.

Our Christian faith teaches that Jesus fully satisfied God’s wrath and judgement on the cross, and assures everlasting life to all who follow Him through the resurrection.  God offers us forgiveness, acceptance, love, and life through the life-changing grace of Christ. 

The Bible shouts to the world the best news ever, “God in His deep love for us has poured out His grace that we might know Him and have life in Him.”  It truly is “Amazing Grace.”

Understanding the depth of God’s grace has three powerful, life-changing results in our life:

  1. It overwhelms you with gratitude.
  2. It captures your heart and awakens deep trust in the God who has poured out His grace on you.  When grace captures your heart, you embrace God’s biblical truth because you realize God desires the best for us and that His way is the best way.
  3. It motivates you to overflow with grace to others.

In 2 Timothy 2:1, the Apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul is reminding this young Christian leader that as Believers we started in grace, stand in grace, and are strengthened in grace.  God calls us who have been given such grace to be strong in grace, to be empowered in grace, and to be a witness in a broken world by overflowing with grace.

Mercy ministries give us an opportunity to demonstrate the life-changing grace of Christ to a broken world.  In times of disaster, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers illustrate the grace of Christ by offering unmerited help and kindness to those devastated by the ravaging loss of a disaster event. 

God calls His followers to wade into the muck and to be His agents of grace.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief extends the grace of Christ by sharing a hot meal to the hungry, cutting a tree off the home of a widow, bringing clean water to a village, cleaning out the flooded home of our neighbor, or praying with one overwhelmed and broken by loss.

Time and again those whom we minister ask disaster relief volunteers;

“Why would you come and help me?”

“Why would you travel so far, sleep on cots, help someone that you have never met, and do it all at no cost?” 

 I am thankful that we can share with them that it is all because of the grace of Christ.  We offer grace because God has poured out His grace on us. And as we demonstrate that grace it opens doors to share the best news ever that God in His deep love offers that life-changing grace to all who will receive it.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief demonstrating the strength of Christ’s grace as they offer help, healing and hope!

Kentucky Joy in the Mourning

Linda Otterback’s ministry has taken a lot of different turns.  In early 2001 she was scheduled for a mission trip to El Salvador.  When the trip had to be cancelled, Linda received a phone call asking if she would like to go to Fleming-Neon instead.  “What country is that in?” Linda asked.

Linda soon learned that Fleming-Neon is in Eastern Kentucky.  She said “yes” to that mission trip, which began the Eastern Kentucky SONrise ministry that is still active today.  Linda and her husband Larry poured their hearts into the Eastern Kentucky area, where they have led prayer meetings, women’s and men’s conferences, gathered much needed resources (clothing, diapers, household furniture, Christmas gifts), and led mission teams to the EKY area.  They have also been such encouragers for many residents, as well as missionaries that serve in eastern Kentucky.

Larry and Linda were married 52 years, grew up in church together, and served together as North American Mission Board MSC Missionaries.  Larry served in this position for 12 years until health issues forced him to step down. On September 30, 2016 Larry went to his heavenly home and Linda was left to serve alone.

After Larry went “home” Linda felt her life was over.  “I couldn’t sleep or eat for almost a year,” she said.  “I cried every night and much during the day. I put on a great face to others, but really had hit the bottom. My kids were concerned that they had lost me also.  But, PTL for friends, family and God who didn’t let me stay there.  I started reading the Psalms in detail after Larry passed. I believe God wrote them for me especially!!  They hadn’t meant as much before, but now I see how HE spoke to me through my trials and valleys.  I still miss my man so very much but have found that God has much yet for me to do.”

The summer before Larry passed, God spoke to Linda in a dream saying she would be doing a widow’s ministry. So, in the midst of her grief, God led Linda to use her experience and her role as a “widow” to begin a ministry to others who had lost their husbands.  Thus, “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” was born. 

Widows all across Kentucky have challenges and are in need of God, our churches, and each other to help them through this journey.  “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” reaches out to them to share stories, encourage, minister, and give insight on how to navigate this season of life.

Linda, along with the “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” team, is available for church workshops, retreats, speaking engagements, luncheons and conferences.  If you know a widow who is struggling, or if you feel led to begin a widow’s ministry in your church, please contact Linda at [email protected].  Visit their website (www.kybaptist.org/widows) to download resources, or connect with “Kentucky Joy in the Mourning” on Facebook.

Praise be to the God… who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Numbers Matter for the SBC

Their smiles, colorful outfits, upbeat music, movements and songs had the crowd captivated.  While the room was filled with likely 1500 guests, everyone’s attention as they filed toward their tables was on the children.  The IMB hosted dinner at the SBC annual meeting began with the beautiful Swahili children’s choir singing in their heart language.  We then saw the gospel in sign language and later prayed for soon appointed IMB missionaries.  All these special treats represented the importance of numbers for the SBC.    

IMB Dinner SBC 2019

Every year Southern Baptist churches compile internal stats in order to report for the Annual Church Profile (ACP).  Each church sends these numbers to their state convention—numbers which cover multiple categories like membership, worship attendance, small group attendance, baptisms, mission participation, etc.  These numbers intend to represent, for the most part, the health of the local church in a given year.  Numbers represent health ultimately because they represent people.  The SBC is ultimately about people—making disciples of all peoples (Matt 28:16-20).   

While numbers do not tell the whole story, they do reveal an important part of the life of the church.  To minimize numbers is to ignore the importance of numbers in the Bible.  After all, a whole book in the Bible is called Numbers in order to number the people of Israel after their wilderness wondering.  So, while we don’t place all our emphasis upon numbers, we dare not overlook the importance of numbers. 

In fact, the Bible speaks of a great multitude (of people) so large that no one could count the number.  John the revelator wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 of this “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

John’s words in the last book of the Bible remind us that numbers matter, massive numbers at that.  This great multitude gathers around the throne of God and the Lamb declaring that salvation belongs to our God and the Lamb. To be sure, these around the throne are around the throne because salvation brought them there, salvation from God through the Lamb.    

Our new IMB president, Paul Chitwood, reminded us so well this week at our annual SBC meeting why we exist as a denomination (Rev 7:9).  The work is still not complete.  John did not promise an incalculable number from some nations nor a few tribes, peoples and languages, but all!  Jesus will not be worshiped by some peoples of the world and praised by many languages on this planet.  He will be praised and prized by all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. 

We exist for this reason as the Southern Baptist Convention.  Under the “big tent” of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, though differences remain, our common doctrinal commitment allows us, rather compels us, to work together for Revelation 7:9. 

Let’s not forget that numbers matter.  Though not telling the whole story, numbers tell an important one.  We aim for a number so large that no one can count.  We long for people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  To this work we set our sights because numbers matter.

What Is Our Answer When Disasters Come?

When disasters strike, we must avoid the urge to throw out pat answers or offer flippant explanations. So how do we answer those struggling in the aftermath of disasters?

  • We grieve with those who suffer. Suffering causes us to pause, to look at the hard questions, and should move us to weep with those who are weeping. Grieving hearts need someone to come alongside them. They do not need pat answers and simple explanations. Followers of Christ should be the first to respond with grace, love, and generous help. Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are often among the first to respond in the aftermath of disasters, and seek to bring help, healing, and hope to those affected.
  • We should be reminded of our many blessings. Life is a gift. Even the air that we breath is a gift from God. We should never trivialize the suffering, but we should also not forget all the goodness that we have been blessed with in life. God is good every day and even in the trying days, He has blessed us greatly.
  • We must decide how we will respond to God. We can be angry with God or we can trust Him. We can question His goodness, or we can worship Him. Disasters remind us that tomorrow is uncertain, so we had better be prepared for eternity. The only way to be prepared for the uncertainty of life and for eternity is to know God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ.
  • We must rest our lives on a solid foundation. The Bible encourages us to build our lives on a foundation that cannot be shaken. Disasters remind us that this earth as we know it now will not go on forever. There is a time coming when time will cease, and this world will be gone in the twinkling of an eye. Tragedies teach us that the only sure hope is to know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to have the assurance of the life that He alone can give. The uncertainties of disasters remind us to prepare for the certainties that are to come. The only sure foundation to build one’s life upon is to know God and to rest our lives in His truth.

2 Corinthians 6:2

” For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.”

If you would like to know more about how you can become a disaster relief volunteer or how you can know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship, contact us at [email protected] .

201 Students Pray to Receive Christ

When Mission Service Corps Missionary James McDonald hears people say, “I can’t believe they have taken the Bible out of school” his response is “the Bible has not been taken out of my school.”  Through BREAK (Bible Release-time Education Association of Kentucky) James and John Lowder, along with several volunteers, teach the Bible once a month in the Corbin, Williamsburg and Whitley County school systems. 

Released Time Bible Education gives public school children the opportunity to receive Bible based moral instruction as part of their education during the regular school day.  Rolling up to the edge of the school property in their big blue and white BREAK bus/classroom, they welcome children for a time of Bible lessons, fun songs and activities, challenging Bible memory and a Christ-centered environment.  BREAK is legal because children attend ONLY at the request of their parent(s) or guardian(s), classes are held off-campus (not on school property) and public schools do not provide any support for BREAK.    

The Gospel is presented with every Bible Release-time lesson. However, children are not usually invited to accept Christ as Savior and Lord until near the end of the school year – after a foundation for their faith has been established. Leaders want to insure that children truly understand and believe the Gospel and are being convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit before they invite Jesus to come into their life and forgive their sins and become their personal Savior and Lord. Even so, BREAK teachers always endeavor to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in case the LORD may be calling children to Himself before the end of the school year.  

In April, with the end of 2018-2019 school year approaching, the leaders had a burden for the salvation of the children.  They began praying together, asking the LORD to use BREAK to bring children to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. They asked the ten-plus churches that support them to pray likewise.  They made decision cards with one side sharing the ABC’s of salvation and the other side being a response card – 1) I am already saved 2) I want to give my life to Jesus & be saved today 3) I am not yet ready to give my life to Jesus.  They had their time of worship, shared the ABC’s of salvation and asked each child to mark his/her card.  Almost 300 of the students expressed an interest in being saved.

While the other students had their game time, counselors talked individually with those that expressed an interest in being saved.  Of the students they talked with, 201 seemed to genuinely understand the Gospel and their need of salvation and prayed asking Jesus to save them from their sins and become their personal Lord and Savior. Thirty-one others received assurance of their salvation.  Follow-up has already begun, and four students have been baptized. 

We praise God for these new believers in Christ and for leaders that are so faithful to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with students.

They ask that you join them in praying for the children that they would abide in the faith and bear much fruit for God’s glory. Also pray for the leaders as they face a daunting task of follow-up – trying to make sure the students get connected to a local church, get baptized, and grow in their new found faith and in the joy of the LORD.

For more information on BREAK go to http://www.kyreleasedtime.org/ or contact BREAK President John Lowder ([email protected]) or Vice-President James McDonald ([email protected]). 

Partnerships to Help Churches

The KBC approaches mission partnerships with the goal of helping churches develop gospel partnerships.  Partnerships, in the past, were developed between the KBC and certain organizations/denominations.  For example, the KBC had a partnership with the Kenya Baptist Convention in Africa or the New England Baptist Convention in the northeast.  God used those, and we are grateful for those relationships. 

However, in recent years, we have shifted the focus of partnerships away from the KBC and placed the emphasis of the partnership between local church and local church . The KBC exists to help churches form gospel partnerships for Great Commission impact. 

Therefore, we desire to connect KBC churches to gospel partnerships in Kentucky, North America, and the nations.  We want to resource, train, and introduce KBC churches to missionaries, church planters, established churches, and ministries in order to develop relationships that will further the gospel around the world through the local church.

There is no better way to develop strong gospel partnerships than by spending time together. The church and/or missionary you are prayerfully considering partnering with is best begun with an initial visit. As your church explores possible partnerships with other local churches or missionaries seeking to plant churches, how should you approach your time of discerning if this connection will make a good partnership? Make the most of your short your time while on an initial visit to the church and area.  How might you do that?

  1. Be prayerful—With Paul, pray always.  Be in prayer as you travel from point A to point B. Pray as you walk and talk.  Pray as you hear from planters. Pray as you return to your room.  The point…pray!  Ask the Lord to lead you in how He would have you maximize your impact in this place.
  2. Be flexible—the time is short and filled with much to see and hear and experience.  Be prepared to spend long days with potentially shifting schedules.
  3. Be attentive—take careful notes both on paper and in your head of missionaries/planters, stories, and situations that stand out to you.  What might speak to you now might be forgotten if you do not write it down and make note of why it impacted you.  Be observant of the area you are in (what is the community like, the people, the needs, etc.).  Take whatever notes necessary, so that you can make a prayerfully discerning decision about partnerships later with your leadership team.
  4. Be interactive—this partnership is an experience, not a vacation.  When able, talk with the planters or your hosts about the city, the needs, ways to be involved, etc.  The point is to be engaged in the mission.
  5. Be willing—to partner as the Lord leads you.  As David Platt suggests, bring a blank check (of your life) to the table and ask the Lord to fill in the amount.

In the end, the Great Commission is about the local church partnering with others for the advancement of the gospel.

Where is God?

Natural disasters continue to strike with little warning across the globe. In the aftermath of these tragic events, people often ask, “Where is God?”

Intellectual answers even when based on fact do not take away the pain or the loss of those affected by disasters. People need hope and grace amid the darkness, and I am absolutely convinced that only God can provide this healing of the heart. Yet this still does not answer the question, “Where is God?”

The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but the existence of evil and suffering in our world makes some wonder if God is good. The atheist says God must either be weak, sadistic, or non-existent as he looks at the suffering that exists on our planet. The unbeliever defies anyone to give an answer for such suffering after a disaster. Yet, the very question coming from an atheist is illegitimate and beyond reason. If one really believes that God does not exist, then one has no ability to question the events of life. If there is no God, then the very ideas of good and evil do not exist. Apart from God life has no meaning nor moral compass.

Men point to tragedy and question God’s goodness, but God points to the Cross of Calvary and declares here is the evidence of my love and goodness. Jesus Christ is the proof of both God’s goodness and the depths of His love for His created ones.

So, the real question is not where is God, but how can we know God’s hope in the brokenness? I offer these foundations:

Choose to follow Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. The only real answer for the brokenness of this world is know Jesus in a personal relationship. The assurance of our faith hinges on the one whom we have placed our faith. The only sure hope in life is to know Christ and the life that He has given.

Trust the promises of His Word. God does not reveal to us all the mysteries of life, but He does promise that He will love and care for all that have placed their faith in Him. The Bible reminds us again and again that God loves us and will not abandon us. Hear God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10, ” Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” In the present, we live in the trust of His promises not in explanations.

Remember, God has a plan. God and his purposes are more than any of us can understand. If God could be completely understood, then He would be like us. Thankfully, God is greater than us and beyond our complete understanding. We live in a fallen world, but we are promised that God has a plan. A day is coming when God will answer every injustice, all suffering will end for those who are His, and His glory will be revealed to every person. Blessed are those that trust God’s character when they are struggling to see His hand.

Where is God? God is ever-present, and offers His strength, grace, and hope to all who will open their hearts to Him. It is not a coincidence that those with a spiritual foundations cope with the stress and trauma of disasters in ways that strengthen recovery.

Psalm 46:1-3

” God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.”