Tornado Preparedness

West Liberty - 3Tornadoes are the most violent storms in nature.  Almost 1200 tornadoes strike every year across the United States.  Winds can reach more than 200 miles per hour, and they can destroy a neighborhood in seconds, leaving behind loss and chaos.  Every year, thousands hold their breath as they watch 15 to 20 of these deadly rotating clouds of fury pass through the Commonwealth.

The destruction and injury depends upon the size, intensity, path, time of day, and length of time the tornado stays on the ground.  They can occur in any season but are most likely in the spring and summer.  Tornadoes frequently occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The 2012 tornado that struck West Liberty tracked across Eastern Kentucky for more than 85 miles.  A survivor of this tornado reminds us of the violent nature of these storms and the need to be prepared, “If it weren’t for God, we’d all be dead.”

Most injuries and fatalities from tornadoes are caused by flying debris.  When a tornado strikes, it is vital to go to the safest place for protection and to seek personal cover.

Here are some tips for tornado preparedness:

  1. Know the difference in a tornado watch and a tornado warning.  A tornado watch means that the weather conditions are possible to produce a tornado.  A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger and those in the warning area should go to a safe place of cover immediately.
  2. The best protection in a tornado is underground in a basement, cellar, a storm shelter, or in a safe room built to FEMA standards.  These shelters greatly increase survival chances.
  3. If an underground shelter is not available, it is recommended that you seek protection in a small windowless room in a sturdy building, such as a bathroom, interior hallway, or closet. It is strongly recommended that these be on the first floor.  One should use additional personal cover as you gather in this interior space.  Use what is available to cover yourself, such as a mattress, blanket, or coat.  Cover your head and neck with your arms.
  4. Mobile homes, malls, gyms, warehouses, vehicles, and the outdoors do not provide safe protection against tornadoes.
  5. Families should have a plan that includes a first aid kit, emergency supplies, and a place for all family members to meet following a disaster.  It is recommended that families have two pre-determined meeting places.

As always, being prepared greatly increases you and your family’s ability to survive when a disaster strikes.

10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You

I recently read a blog post introduced to me by one of our Kentucky missionaries that was written in July of 2014 by Adam Mosley. After working with missionaries for most of my ministry, I know that what Adam has written is so true. If you’ve not served as a missionary, you might not know these things. So, I’m going to share his blog posting with you right here. I pray it will open your eyes to more effective ways to minister to and support missionaries whom God has called to serve.    KBCL1091 - copy

Being a missionary is hard work. Everybody knows that. But the things we think of as the hard parts – lack of modern amenities, exposure to disease, and the like – only begin to scratch the surface of the difficulties of real missionary life. Often, it is the things left unsaid that really begin to erode the passion and soul of a missionary. Here are just a few of those things…

• Have you read my latest newsletter?
• Newsletters, blog posts, website updates – all the “experts” tell me that I need to be sending you fresh content on a regular basis so you won’t forget about me. But here’s the thing…writing is hard, especially for those who aren’t natural writers. You know what else is hard? HTML, CSS, PHP, and a bunch of other tech-geek stuff that you have to learn about just to make a decent-looking website or email. I really want to tell you what’s going on, but it’s hard to turn out gripping narratives while I have a sick child asleep in my lap. And if I have to look up how to code a “mailto” link one more time, I’m going to scream!

• Thank you so much for the encouragement!
• I’m glad that you liked my Facebook status. I really am. The thing is, when I say we need $1,200 by the end of the week to pay the school fees for orphaned children, I’m talking about actual dollars and actual need. Contrary to the rumors, Bill Gates doesn’t donate a dollar for every Like. That part is up to you. So, the next time you Like my status, consider sending a few bucks my way too.

• I’m trusting God to provide, and I’m so thankful for our donors.
• Lest you think #2 sounded a little whiny and money-hungry, you should know that I truly despise asking for money. I always have. And now I have to ask for it almost all the time. Even when I’m not asking for it, I’m thinking about asking for it. There are never enough funds to do all the good I’m trying to do, and I live with a nagging feeling that the one person I don’t ask is the one who would have written the big check. So, when I ask for money, know that I do so with fear and trembling.

• Please pray for me. It has been a challenging week.
• Things are pretty bad here. If I told you what’s really going on, you would either come rescue me, or think I was exaggerating. If you heard some of the things I’ve said out loud, you might question my salvation. If you knew some of the thoughts I’ve had rattling around in my head, you might question my sanity. Sometimes good days are hard to come by, but I don’t dare tell you the worst. If I did, you would probably tell me to throw in the towel.

• I just need a time of refreshing.
• After 2 or 3 years of hard work, most people feel like they deserve a little break. Take the family to the beach. Visit a theme park, a national park, or Park City. I would love a vacation, but honestly, I feel guilty “pampering” myself, rather than putting all my time and resources into the ministry. On top of that, I know some people will judge me if my vacation is “too nice.” If I scrape and save pennies for 5 years so I can spend a week on an exotic island, you’ll never hear about it, because I can’t handle the snarky, “It must be nice” comments (the ones you’ll say to my face), or, “My donations paid for your vacation” (which you’ll think, but not say out lout – at least not to me). So, I keep some great stuff to myself for fear of being judged.

• I’m so excited about your team coming!
• Bless your heart. You think you’re doing me a favor. Thirty people show up at my door and expect me to provide transportation, food, lodging, sight-seeing, and a list of service projects a mile long. You’re here to “help.” The thing is, the other 51 weeks out of the year, we manage to do what needs to be done here just fine. That is, except for the time we spend working on the logistics for your team. You come over and want to help build a fence, when I can hire local workers to build a fence for a tiny fraction of what you spent to come here. I appreciate your desire to help, and I even love having visitors, but consider the size and expectations of your group before you plan your trip. A team of 3 or 4 highly skilled people is much more valuable to our ministry than a gaggle of mission tourists.

• It’s great to be back home.
• Please understand, I now have two homes. When I’m at one, I’m away from the other, and there is a lot of emotion involved in that. On top of that, my life is absolutely crazy when I go “home.” I have to see relatives and friends, visit with partner churches, and take care of any number of issues that have arisen with my health, my electronic devices, and my government paperwork. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, I spend my time living out of suitcases and hustling from one appointment to the next. Is it good to be home? Sure. But when I get on that plane to go to my other home, I breathe a sigh of relief that life is almost back to “normal.”

• I’m not very good at self-care.
• Let’s face it, I’m no saint. I’m not any more spiritual than you are. I don’t start my day with three hours of devotional reading and prayer. I typically just get up and get to work. And there is a lot of work to be done. In fact, there is so much need here that it’s really easy to become so focused on doing things for God that I lose sight of God himself. In pursuing my calling, I’ve somehow forgotten about the caller. My spiritual life is almost nonexistent, other than the occasional desperate cry of “Why God?”

• I’m just looking for some good strategic partners.
• There are good people here, there really are. But I have seen the worst of humanity in my work here – much of it from people I worked with and trusted. Other missionaries and pastors can be the worst. Just when you think you know someone, they stab you in the back, the front, and both sides. I’ve gotten to where I simply don’t trust anyone. My guard is up, and it’s not coming down. I refuse to get burned again. If that means I have to do everything myself, then so be it.

• I’m OK – just really busy with the ministry.
• Having neglected my relationship with God, and given up on people entirely, I’m left with just me. I hate it. I want to quit. I have dreams about what my life would be like if I went back to my old home town, to my old church, and my old friends. I could get a normal job earning a salary – with healthcare and paid vacation. I could shop and eat at normal places. Most of all, I could have normal relationships. But here? I’m all alone. I don’t know if there’s anyone like me here, and I know no one back home understands. I want to feel wanted, invited, and loved. I want someone to pour into me the way I’m pouring into others.

Kentucky Missionary Honored

A. MillerArlene Miller, one of our Kentucky missionaries, was honored this week at the National WMU Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH.  During the Sunday evening session Arlene was presented with the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development.

Arlene has served as a Mission Service Corps funded (self-funded) missionary through the North American Mission Board and the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 2001 in her work as Director of Impact Ministry and Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Impact, a food and clothing ministry, and Christian Women’s Job Corps are ministries of the Christian County Baptist Association in Hopkinsville, KY.

Arlene is a strong leader and her work has impacted many, especially needy families, women, and volunteers serving alongside her.  She helps to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of those she serves and is quick to share their need of a relationship with Christ.  Arlene is active in her local church, association, and state WMU where she had held many leadership roles.

In addition to Arlene’s service at Impact and Christian Women’s Job Corps, she also serves as the West Region Mobilization Consultant with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, where she recruits and enlists other KY-MSC and NAMB MSC-funded missionaries, and provides much needed encouragement for the missionaries in her region.

Arlene has been active in international missions, having taken numerous mission trips.  You can see her light up as she shows pictures and speaks of the children at the orphanage in Haiti.

Many times, Arlene says, she has told the Lord “no, I can’t, I am not qualified, but will pray for You to get somebody else,” only to hear His voice say, “I want you!!”

Arlene is very conscientious, is an encourager, and such a humble, giving person.

CONGRATULATIONS, Arlene!!  You are most deserving of this award.

If you are looking for a good Kentucky mission opportunity, consider a trip to Hopkinsville to work with Arlene and her volunteers at Impact Ministry and CWJC.  Click on the following link to view their needs –

You are meant for so much more!

All of us have had adversity in our lives.  All of us have likely asked why such adversity comes our way, but have you ever asked why blessings come your way.  It is one thing to ask “why” when bad things happen, but it is another thing to ask “why” when good things happen.  The Psalmist in Psalm 67 offers us the answer as to why good things come our way. He says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2). blessing

This song of blessing mirrors the priestly blessing offered to the people of Israel in Numbers 6:22-27.  Asking for the blessing of God is meant for the praise of God.  The Psalmist goes on to say, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you” (v 3).  God blesses His people, so that His people might make His salvation known to the ends of the earth.  Yet, the spreading of God’s name is ultimately for God’s fame.  God’s desire is the praise of all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, language, or culture.

God doesn’t simply save because people need saving, but because He is worthy of praising.  Yes, people need saving, but more than that God is worthy of the devotion of all peoples.  God blesses us, so that His fame might spread to the ends of the earth for His glory and praise.

If this is true, and I believe it is, then we must reevaluate the use of our lives and our churches for this end.  In other words, how am I as a husband, father, neighbor, and coach living for the spread of God’s fame and the glory of His name?  How am I making Him know through the many blessings that He has lavished on me?  Am I more prone to hoard God’s blessings in my life or herald God’s name through these blessings?

What about in our churches?  Are we more inward focused on ourselves—our wounds, our needs, our wants, etc., then we are on making Jesus famous across the street and across the sea?  What if our churches focused their budgets and their ministries around using the blessings of God as the means of proclaiming God?  What if our mission, vision, and strategy revolved around the sole purpose of using our blessings as the means of investing in the lives of others for the spread of God’s fame and the glory of His name?  What if we were less concerned, as one friend puts it, about potholes in our parking lot, mildew on our steeples, and shag carpet in our buildings?

What might God do in us and through us if we viewed and used our blessings as the means of advancing Jesus’ name for the praise of all peoples?  After all, this is why we were made and saved.  We are meant for so much more than buildings, budgets, and business meetings (not that these are unimportant).  We are meant to proclaim His name for the praise of His name.

Iraqi believers: ‘Do churches in America know what is being done to us?’

Iraq Team - 2 In the spring of 2014, an organized militia set out to create a form of Islamic government known as a caliphate in the Middle East.  As spring turned to summer, this Islamic State (ISIS) destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians, Iraqi believers, Yazidis, and various sects of Shia Muslims.  Over a million were driven from their homes, and thousands of others were slaughtered or enslaved as this ruthless caliphate swept across Syria and Iraq.

Thousands upon thousands fled into the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq to places called Erbil and Dohuk.  They took refuge in parks, stadiums, abandoned buildings, parking garages, shelters, and tents.  Months later, many of them continue to live in camps and refugee centers with little hope of ever returning home.

I have just returned from Northern Iraq where I served with a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Medical and Children’s Trauma team.  The team was comprised of Dr. Tom Ashburn of Barbourville, Glenn Hickey of Monticello, Stacy Nall of Shelbyville, Pat Callan of Sparta, Debra Kramer of Henderson, Karen Smith of Shepherdsville, and myself, Coy Webb, Kentucky Baptist DR Director.  We spent nine days in Northern Iraq seeking to bring help, healing, and hope to those displaced by war and violence.  As we ministered among the refugees, they only asked one thing of us, “Will you please tell our story to the world?

Iraq Team

Life as a refugee is difficult.  In the winter, they endured snowstorms and cold temperatures. 
Now, in the summer, the heat can soar above 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is scorching.  Multiple families are forced to share very limited water sources, bathrooms, and kitchen areas.  Every day is a battle to feed your family and to survive.

The people that we met were normal businessmen, professionals, and middle class folks in villages and towns.  But, when ISIS came, they literally had to run for their lives.  The choice was convert to Islam, run, or die.  Most had to flee in the middle of the night, many with only an hour or so notice.  They had to grab what they could and flee, only to be stopped at ISIS checkpoints where they were forced to abandon their cars and personal belongings.  Many were betrayed by Muslim neighbors, whom they had lived beside all their lives.  Others watched as young daughters were taken from them to be sold as brides or slaves to ISIS fighters.  The life they knew was jerked from them in a moment. Most families arrived in places like Erbil or Dohuk with nothing but their lives.

One woman with two very small children shared this with me as we sat in her refugee tent, “What did we do that we were driven from our homes?  Our only offense is that we would not denounce Christ.  How could we deny the One who is Lord?  We now know that the plan of ISIS is to wipe the earth clean of Christians.  Their goal is genocide…to eradicate every follower of Christ.  We have lost everything: our homes, our land, our possessions, and our trust of our neighbor.  They have stolen our dignity.  When you lose your home…your land, you have no identity.  All that we have left is our faith.  Do churches in America know what is being done to us?  Do they care?”

The Scripture on the wall, where our team set up to provide medical care, perhaps best shared their plight, “Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father or Me” (John 16:2-3).

This is the reality of our brothers and sisters scattered across Northern Iraq by persecution.

Our Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief team served among these refugees for almost two weeks providing medical care and compassionate ministry.  We were able to assist 944 patients in multiple clinics and provide the love of Christ to 1055 hurting children.  We were able to pray and share the love of Christ with them.  We were often humbled by the hospitality, grace, and faith of these left with so little.  We promised that we would not forget them, and that we would seek to give a voice to their plight.Iraq -10

Our persecuted brothers and sisters are crying out to God and to the church.  How can we remain silent?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”

What can Kentucky Baptists do in such a time as this?  Let me offer five practical ways that we can help our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

First, we can contact our representatives in the U.S. government and be advocates for the persecuted church.  ISIS is a threat to the stability of the Middle East, but they are a threat to our nation as well.  They are a threat to humanity.  We must be a voice for the voiceless.  We must be outspoken in our cry for justice and in shining the light of Christ on evil.  Not to speak is to speak.

Second, we can provide tangible assistance to the over one million refugees living in exile in Kurdistan.  Financial gifts can be designated to Baptist Global Relief, the International Mission Board and to the World Hunger Fund.  Among the current needs that were requested of our team was funding to establish a mobile medical clinic and rent assistance that would enable families to move from camps into apartments ($600 a month will put three families into an apartment). Not to act is to act.

Third, we can advocate for Iraqi Christians by asking that our government allow them to immigrate to the United States, and be willing as churches to sponsor refugees.  Countless Iraqi believers would love to come to our nation, and would be resources to our churches that would strengthen our ability to reach others from the Middle East in our state.  Would your church consider sponsoring an Iraqi Christian family to find refuge in America?

Fourth, Kentucky Baptists can “Go.”  Iraqi churches and other strategic partners are seeking churches and teams that will join them in this critical hour of ministry.  Thousands of nominal Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims have been displaced from their homes and have come together across Northern Iraq.  ISIS has caused many Muslims to begin to question their beliefs, and forced nominal Christians to realize faith must be more than empty rituals.  This has created a door of opportunity for the Gospel.  Believers in Kurdistan are crying out for partner churches to join them in this critical hour.  There are current needs for medical teams, children’s teams, discipleship workers, evangelism training and pastoral training, women’s ministry, church construction, and strategic long-term church partners.  They are crying out for Kentucky Baptists to join them as they seek to minister to a vast sea of refugees.  God has cracked open a door that has been previously closed, so now is the time.  Will we have the courage to step through the door for Christ?

By going, Kentucky Baptists can proclaim to the displaced:

You are not alone.

You are not forgotten.

You are loved by God and the church of our Lord.

You have brothers and sisters who will come alongside you and stand with you for the sake of Christ.

Not to act is to act.

Iraq Team - 3 Finally, the most important thing that we can do is pray.  Pray for the thousands of refugees who have fled to Northern Iraq and surrounding countries.  Pray for Christians who have been left homeless and without jobs.  Pray that the Islamic State will be awakened to the truth of the cross.  Pray for God to push back the darkness and evil.  Pray that God will use persecution to expand His church and to open new doors for the Gospel. Pray for God to be magnified among the nations.

Silence is not an optionHow will you respond?

“Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?  Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58: 6-8)

Please contact the Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention for more information on how your church can join us in this Great Commission task in Northern Iraq and the Middle East.  You may call (502) 489-3527to learn more.