Helping people in a pandemic is not a competition. But Sam Porter, national director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, talks about the work Richard Brunson and Baptists on Mission has done for its North Carolina residents during the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that feels like a prize is warranted.
Starting in late March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began making life difficult and unpredictable for North Carolina families, Richard and his team responded promptly, just as it would during a hurricane, tornado, flood or some other major natural disaster. Although a pandemic is a different type of emergency, Sam says North Carolina residents saw the same kind of Southern Baptist compassion from their state disaster relief team that’s always been shown in moments of crisis.
“Richard’s been in that position for 20 years, and he’s just got a real balanced team across the state with just really consistent leadership,” Sam said. “Watching the way God is working through them to minister to the state of North Carolina through all this has been fantastic, and it’s what we’ve all come to expect from them.”
Because the unpredictability of the pandemic persists, the work is still ongoing. But Richard recently took some time to write out his thoughts on what God is doing through Baptists on Mission during these times.
It was the British missionary, William Carey who said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
I have thought about that quote a lot during the past few months of our Covid-19 response. Here are some of the things that Baptists on Mission has been doing to minister to people affected by COVID-19:
County Coordinators: For our COVID-19 response, we have utilized our disaster relief network of volunteers to set up COVID-19 county coordinators for all 100 counties in North Carolina. We have had over 600 churches that have said they want to be part of a network of churches ministering in their communities. The county coordinators have worked to help connect these churches with people in need in their communities.
Volunteers of all ages have come out to aid Baptists on Mission’s efforts to feed North Carolina residents in need during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by K. Brown)
Isolated people: We have also worked through 2-1-1 and www.CoronaCommunity.org to help identify people who are high risk and have food or medicine needs. So far, more than 300 families have been connected with local churches, and these churches are ministering to them on a regular basis in Jesus’ name.
Grants: We have been blessed to be able to provide churches with more than $130,000 for COVID-19 grants. We have also been able to provide $100,000 worth of bulk food for churches that are cooking for people in need in their communities.
Baptists on Mission director, Richard Brunson, right, chats with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during a food packing event. (Photo by K. Brown)
Food Boxes: We are so thankful to have received a USDA grant to provide food boxes to families across our state. Through this grant, we are providing 8,000 Farm-to-Family Produce boxes each week to families affected by COVID-19. What an opportunity to help hurting people! That’s approximately 150,000 pounds of fresh produce and fruit that will be distributed each week for many months to come.
In addition to the produce, we are distributing 2,000 gallons of milk, 2,000 pounds of cheese and 9,600 pounds of meat each week. In all, 185 churches and community centers signed up to help distribute this food. These churches and community centers are working with people affected by COVID-19, and they stretch all across our state from Cherokee County in the West to Swan Quarter and Atlantic in the East! We have set up 17 different distribution sites for the Produce boxes and 15 different distribution sites for the meat, milk and cheese boxes. Our disaster relief volunteers, our disaster relief leaders, drivers and our staff are working so hard to make this possible! What an opportunity, what a responsibility!
Several churches in the Oxford, NC area are helping distribute meals to children during spring break as well as a drive up line for families needing meals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Food packing eventually turns into meal delivery. (Photo by K. Brown)
God has been so good to us and has provided so many opportunities to minister in His name. This is a great opportunity and a great responsibility. “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
Baptists on Mission