MURFREESBORO –Many Christians strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Sometimes that task requires a little bit of training.
Last week, North Carolina Baptist Men on Mission (NCBM) Disaster Relief Ministry held a training session at Meherrin Baptist Church in Murfreesboro.
Approximately 235 trainers and students participated in the two-day session which covered a variety of efforts done by the ministry when they respond to natural and manmade disasters.
NCBM responded to Bertie County when it was ravaged by twin tornados in April 2011. There are currently volunteers with Disaster Relief in New York and New Jersey helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy pick up the pieces.
“We are training in all fields of disaster relief (today)—we’ve got mass feeding, recovery and rebuilding, communications center, a medical unit, laundry unit, shower unit,” said Preston Spear, Incident Commander for the training session. “When we go, we go self-contained.”
NCBM started to set up their massive operation in town on Thursday, the day before volunteers began to register and train.
The massive Disaster Relief team boasts 10,000 volunteers statewide, over 100 pieces of equipment plus 250 churches and associations with their own recovery trailers.
The group can serve up to 30,000 meals a day with one of their five portable kitchens. Volunteers are also trained in cutting down trees and removing debris. They also help with rebuilding homes. A large tanker truck has the ability to haul gallons of water to disaster sites. They can also purify contaminated water.
The latest piece of equipment is the addition of a large trailer that holds enough tools to put 20 teams to work on recovery and rebuilding.
The fleet from NCBM that now responds to disasters has grown tremendously since Spear began work with Disaster Relief.
“When I started in ’91, we had one small kitchen with about a 2,000 meals a day capacity,” he said. “That’s the only piece of equipment we had on the road.”
Donations over the years have helped the Disaster Relief Ministry grow in to the large-scale operation it is today.
“We’ve come a long way from where we started,” he said.
Spear said this is the first of five training sessions Disaster Relief offers in a year. Most of the volunteers that were conducting their training were from Regions 1 and 2, which includes Chowan and West Chowan Baptist Associations—an area that spans Cape Hatteras to Roanoke Rapids.
“However, any region can attend any training session,” he said.
Spear said there is certification required for the different facets in disaster relief. Every three years volunteers need to be recertified.
“It’s a calling and it’s a ministry; it’s an opportunistic ministry because it gives you the opportunity to spread the word of Christ,” he said about the work the volunteers do. “All kind of doors open when you’re helping people. …I tell the people we train, if I get you to go one time—I got’cha—because you will come back a changed person.”
To learn more about the NCBM Disaster Relief, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.baptistsonmission.org.