Wednesday, May 11
So what is an unskilled preacher such as myself doing in a disaster zone? Good question.
I knew I couldn’t remove debris. At this point it’s time for the bull dozers for the most part. I looked around at some of the disaster responders. I wasn’t connected with any of them, though they all do what they do very well.
Then Royce and Carol Ogle came over to Tuscaloosa to serve with their friend Mike Baumgartner. I’ve been following Mike for some time now. He got his start with Mark and Laura Cremeans (Churches of Christ Disaster Response). He decided to launch out on his own with a unique ministry. He has a rolling kitchen/rv. When disaster strikes he can get there quickly, set up quickly, and start serving food almost immediately. If he is alone, he can do it. If he has help he can do more.
If you haven’t lived through a disaster you might not realize how important food is. I can remember Mark Cremeans setting up a gas grill about six weeks after Katrina hit. People from the surrounding streets walked over and lined up for a hamburger and some beans right out of the can. Hot food that wasn’t an MRE! That was one of the best hamburgers I ever ate. It still brings tears to remember the people lined up on our back lot. They were dirty, smelly, dazed … but a grilled hamburger was a touch of the life they used to know.
Mike’s ministry is Disaster Assistance COC. I had not met him until Tuesday morning. It was really like meeting an old friend. I went right to work and we talked disaster relief and his operation for a long time. In the time he had been parked in Tuscaloosa he had served thousands of meals. (By the time I left for home he had served 21,000 meals in Tuscaloosa.) Some of those who were fed were neighborhood folks who wandered up to the tent. Most were volunteers who were getting some food before they went back to work. Some Central church members gathered up lunches and took to the streets to give them away.
While I was making hundreds of sandwhiches Mike’s alarm went off. There was a tornado warning in his home town of Muncie, Indiana. He was in communication with his wife during that time. I thought it was something that this guy was here giving of himself to disaster stricken people while a tornado was near his home town far away.
Mike’s next destination is yet unknown – even to him. It all depends on where he’s needed. For now, that’s in Tuscaloosa.
Thanks for reading,