by Bob Kiger
PLYMOUTH, MI – Bob Kiger, Michigan Disaster Relief Director, was asked about both his 2021 vision for Disaster Relief (DR) efforts with Michigan volunteers and practical ways for people in Michigan churches to get involved. What is the most distinctive thing about participating with Disaster Relief? KIGER: "The most distinctive thing about participating with Disaster Relief is the fact that you are part of a larger organization that is recognized around the world as being one of the largest trained volunteer disaster relief efforts." Why do you think a wide variety of people in churches love to participate in Disaster Relief? What do you think is their reward? KIGER: "I think we have so many church members volunteer because deep in their heart they want to help their fellow man, especially when someone is suffering, and Disaster Relief is an organized effort that they can join and do just that. Most feel their reward is Jesus’ command 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.' Matthew 25:40"
What are your hopes for Michigan Disaster Relief in 2021? KIGER: "Because 2020 was such a different year, in 2021 I am looking forward to all our volunteers being healthy and able to assist in disaster callouts. We have had to cancel trips because of health issues, and even postponed training. We will continue to provide support to disaster victims in Michigan and across the country. We will add additional training opportunities around the state to prepare new volunteers. We will also train additional chaplains which are becoming more in demand during these times."
What are the major ways that DR teams help people in crisis? KIGER: "The most obvious way that DR helps is in the physical recovery effort. Whether it is a tornado, hurricane, flood, or fire, we help them recover their property that is salvageable, and then we prepare their house, so it is ready to be remodeled or rebuilt. But this is only the physical. The most important help we give is the spiritual compassion that we share. Disaster victims need to know God still is in control and He has not forgotten them. This is why we need to add more chaplains that can fellowship with homeowners while volunteers work on their homes."
What kind of travel, lodging and meals are set up for the DR volunteers that go to help in a crisis? KIGER: "DR teams travel as a group in DR supplied vehicles, and house in churches on the way if it takes more than one day to arrive. Once the team arrives at the disaster area, volunteers are housed in a local church. They must take their own bedding (cots, air mattresses, etc.). During a response to a disaster, a feeding team will be housed at the church and will feed not only the DR volunteers, but in some cases, the public too if it is a major disaster."
What are the steps someone needs to take to participate with DR? KIGER: "For those that are interested in joining DR, you must attend Basic Training which is offered throughout the year. Different Unit Training is offered depending on someone’s personal preference. Training is offered in Flood Recovery, Chainsaw and Feeding. You can be trained in all three if desired. Once someone has been trained and has participated in a disaster callout, they can then be trained as a Chaplain."
If someone wants to develop a DR team in their own church, how can you help them? KIGER: "The best way for a church to establish a team of their own is to attend Basic Training and then decide which Unit they are interested in forming. They will then be trained in that discipline and participate in a callout with experienced volunteers and then they can respond to any future callouts as a team."
What is one of your most memorable moments you experienced during 2020? KIGER: "The floods in the Midland area were such a devastating event that affected so many people. The Michigan DR team spent several weeks helping homeowners recover from the damage. As we were in the middle of responding, governmental agencies were contacting us and asking what they should be doing, and how they could help us. This was so rewarding because we were recognized for the knowledge and skill that our volunteers possess. Our volunteers don’t look for recognition, but when they are noticed, they know they are doing what God has asked them to do."
The latest 2020 national Disaster Relief numbers are in from President/CEO Ronnie Floyd, SBC Executive Committee. Southern Baptists have the third largest disaster relief organization in America, only following the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Through the ministries of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief:
753,977 meals prepared for survivors of national disasters
668,687 hours of work were given by volunteers
7,975 recovery jobs were completed by volunteers, which includes chainsaw jobs, as well as flood, fire, and debris removal
6,813 Gospel presentations were made
875 people made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
Michigan Disaster is a part of these national numbers. Won’t you volunteer and join Michigan Disaster Relief in 2021? There are a lot of hurting people that need your help. For more information about Michigan Disaster Relief, visit bscm.org/dr or contact Bob Kiger at email@example.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Kiger became a Christian at age 12. He and his wife Rose have been married for 46 years, have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. Bob retired from Ford Motor Company as a Senior Partner and then began using his talents in Disaster Relief efforts all around the nation. Bob is the Director of Michigan Disaster Relief.