Partners through the Kershaw Baptist Association were quick to SERVE after North Central High School’s building was severely damaged during the Jan. 11 tornado. Members of the association began meeting needs within days of the storm and when the district was forced to relocate faculty, staff and students in order to resume classes. Director of Missions Ron Underwood visited the principal, a member of First Baptist Camden, and discovered a one way the association could quickly meet a need.
“I learned that the teachers’ lounge had no refrigerator for them to store their lunches and drinks. Within the next three hours the association purchased a refrigerator and had it delivered, along with soft drinks and cases of water,” says Underwood.
Local churches already had a presence in the school district through Sacks of Love, Reading Buddy and FCA ministries as well as Good News Clubs. So when the disaster struck, the association was poised to show immediate love in tangible ways. Underwood says the association has supplied 35 bulletin boards for the affected teachers and 20,000 pencils with gospel messages for the school district to use as needed. Churches in the association have also partnered to feed weekly hot lunches to the faculty and staff.
“We found out that many teachers brought their lunches to school, and we knew that many churches have Wednesday night church suppers before prayer meetings. We began talking with our churches and many of them loved the idea of providing a lunch for the 65 teachers and staff on Thursdays. We now have every Thursday covered through the end of the semester,” Underwood says, adding that the lunches have become a great morale booster for the teachers during such a difficult situation.
Underwood is already seeing ripple effects of ministry response in the face of disaster. One local pastor has become a sort of “team chaplain,” organizing and communicating about the lunches with volunteer churches. Some of the affected teachers are active members of churches in the association and have shared that many of the unengaged teachers have commented about how Baptist churches in the community really care about them and appreciate the love they’re being shown.
“They’ve seen the churches respond in ways they never knew possible. From our perspective in the association, it’s neat to see our churches respond so quickly and enthusiastically. On Thursdays when the meal is being served, pastors and volunteers of the serving church are able to strike up conversations with the teachers. We hope this will eventually lead to gospel conversations and, no doubt, our efforts have opened the door much wider for the gospel to be lived out and shared, in deed and in word,” Underwood says.
According to Jon Jamison, SERVE team leader with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the Kershaw Association received funds for some of these outreach opportunities through Heart4Schools and Disaster Relief. “This is a lovely picture of partnership among churches, the association and state convention,” he says.