Calamity has turned to hope for Vermont residents. In a state where the percentage of the population that hold no beliefs surged to 34 percent in the last decade, the work Christians are doing in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene has proved to be a stepping-stone for creating a larger community of believers in the region.
Christian relief groups, such as the South Baptist Disaster Relief, have joined local churches, such as the Resurrection Baptist Church and the Capstone Baptist Church, to give a helping hand to victims of Hurricane Irene.
The hurricane that hit the small state knocked out power for weeks, flooded the streets, destroyed homes, and took lives.
South Baptist Disaster Relief offered to evaluate and clean homes for free; a service that provided physical labor and spiritual support for victims.
“The reason that we’re here is to help them with their homes, give them hope, and share the love of Christ with them,” Cindy Henderson, an administration officer for South Baptist Disaster Relief said.
John Scoggins, the Off-Site Coordinator for New England has stated that they are trying to build a close relationship with the community, a difficult task in a state with much lower than average faith compared to the rest of the country.
“It’s a long and hard process. People see people who have a good attitude and a loving heart. They ask the question why would you do this for me? Then we tell them our personal story,” Scoggins said.
Volunteers from Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Alabama have been inspecting homes free of charge. They state that they take requests from all communities and in particular try to help those with no insurance.
The inspection of homes are undertaken to find out what can be done to help, and the follow-up work carried out by volunteers includes clearing mud out of basements, and making full preparations for any reconstruction works necessary.
“We go into a community to see who needs help…We must love God’s children,” Scoggins said.
The goal for the Baptist Christian organization is to provide technical and physical assistance with homes affected by natural disasters but volunteers are also trained spiritually to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, through sharing his love and when the opportunity presents itself, to bring unbelievers to Christ.
So far Scoggins reports that two people have given their life to Christ during clean-up efforts in Vermont.
The South Baptist Disaster Relief organization has workers stationed in several cities in Vermont such as Montpelier, Bennington, and Jacksonville and they also have an office team in Woodberry.
Overall, there are 84,000 trained workers across the nation. Internationally, the organization also has volunteers stationed in Haiti and Japan to help others in times of tragedy.