FENTON, MI – 25 YEARS!! 1992-2017 It is amazing how time goes by so fast. I am told that years ago a group of volunteers from Michigan Baptist churches would go to Ohio to help serve in a time of disaster. I guess when the Lord calls, you will work with anyone! (Go Blue). In 1992, Michigan Baptist Men invited Bob Dixon from Texas to come and speak at a Winter Men's Retreat at Bambi about disaster relief and how to get a chapter started. Bob Dixon is one of the 6 men from Texas who is credited with starting Southern Baptist Disaster Relief 50 years ago.
From that meeting Michigan Disaster Relief was officially organized. Fred Kinsey, a layman from Monroe, was appointed as the first state disaster relief director. I have enjoyed talking with Fred about the challenges and blessings he and his wife Rose had together in disaster relief. They learned to use whatever they had, and prayed to the Lord for whatever they needed. Their willingness to go any where in the state to train volunteers and sometimes only for one person. Fred had no budget to speak of or salary, expenses many times were paid by Fred and the other volunteers. Tears would build up in Fred's eyes as he would share with me about the old equipment someone donated to DR, and how they sold it and raised money to buy the first feeding unit. We still have that feeding unit today. Fred said many times when they needed something for DR the men would chip in their own money to buy what they needed. Let me say, “Thank you Michigan Southern Baptists for your giving to the Francis Brown State Missions Offering and your special gifts throughout the year. In fact, while I am writing this article I was notified of a gift of $500.00 from one of our local churches. Thank You Jesus!
The Lord used Fred in disaster relief work to minister in His name to people across the state of Michigan and across the country. Fred worked with the National Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief as a liaison person to the American Red Cross in Washington DC, retired as Michigan State DR Director in 2005, and became a volunteer with the American Red Cross full time. My job is easier today because of the groundwork he laid.
In 2005, Rev. Stacy Britt of the Jackson area, was appointed as State Director. It was under Stacy's leadership I had my first mud out unit experience in Boston, Ma. It was one of those trips where if something was going to go wrong, it did. We had car trouble on the way, spent 24 hours on the road, and we had car trouble while in Boston. I still felt blessed and enjoyed the fellowship with other volunteers while sharing Christ love with the people we helped.
In the 4 years before I became State Director, I was asked several times to serve as a blue hat leader and I refused. I was retired and just wanted to do whatever other volunteers did not want to do. I loved doing dishes at DR, but not at home. My wife won't let me use a power wash machine in the house for the pots and pans. In March of 2007, Dr. Michael Collins, our state executive, ask me to serve as state director. I won't go into the detail, but after 3 or 4 days of thinking and praying about it, I said. “Yes.” It was not the knowledge about DR work or its organization, for I had only gone on 4 trips. It was the love I have for DR volunteers, and the ministry we do together to bring help, hope, and healing to a hurting community.
I said, I would do it only if I had Dr. Collins full support, which I had, and only if the focus was only about Him, and not about us and what color of hats we wore. Dr. Collins said, “Okay, and you have a National DR meeting in Shocco Springs, Ala. in April and a Homeland Security meeting in Grand Rapids in May.” It has been a blessed time of learning.
Michigan Disaster Relief has grown in the past 25 years from its humble beginning of working with Ohio and nine volunteers to more than 400 trained volunteers. I wish we had kept better records of how many souls have been won to the Lord from the DR ministry. The wonderful thing is the Lord keeps good records because once their name is entered He never removes them. We have 2 feeding units, 2 chain saw units, 2 mud out units, 1 utility trailer, 2 luggage trailers, a 12 passenger van, a portable water purification unit, a shower/laundry unit, and this past June, we were given a 40' MCI bus by the Missouri DR to build a command unit. God has given us what we need when we needed it. Michigan DR has truly been blessed.
Our hopes for 2017 is to build a new garage next to the state office so our equipment can be protected and safe. It will also allow us to maintain the equipment better. Presently, our equipment is at 4 different churches and in the past 9 years we have had 2 trailers stolen.
Michigan DR is strong and well respected in our state by our partners in Michigan Volunteers Active in Disasters(MiVOAD) like the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Renew and others. Michigan DR is now on several local government disaster relief action plans, such as Warren, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and others. From this respect and awareness comes responsibilities. Are we still ready to do what God has put before us as Michigan Southern Baptist?
I will be sending new information about the development and financing of the new garage in an upcoming Baptist Beacon. If you have any ideas about the new garage, and how we can raise the money please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, as the plans for the 25th anniversary is finalized we will share it with you in the Beacon. If you would like to share any ideas you may do so at email@example.com.
As we remember our history with fondness and marvel at the results, let each one of us with a grateful heart look to the future with joy and expectation as we claim what God has promised us.
Happy 25th Anniversary Michigan Southern Baptist Disaster Relief!!
Happy 50th Anniversary National Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief!!
REMEMBER, "IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!!!
MI SBC DR
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Win Williams lives in Brighton, MI, has been married to Carolyn for 52 years, father of Christa McGuire, and has four grandsons. Win is a deacon of FBC in Brighton and has been involved in Michigan Baptist since 1961.