Showing Christ’s Love: Building Volunteers Needed

By Sharon Mager

Like most couples, Eric and Kristine Sohn are pleased when they can spend their Saturdays together, doing something that they love to do. Lately, the Sohns have been thrilled to do just that — serving others through their work with Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief (DR). The Sohns, members of First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro in Maryland, have been dragging ruined rugs, furniture, and drywall out of damaged homes. They’ve cleaned out mud and mold. And, they’ve prayed with homeowners, sharing God’s love.

Taressa Fisher, Hughesville Baptist Church; Lisa Dorn, First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro; and Bob Douglass, Emmanuel Church, Huntingtown work together to help elderly and low-income homeowners (photo by Ellen Udovich).

Eric and Kristine are part of a group of volunteers which represents 10 Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) churches and has been helping elderly and low-income families in Prince George’s County. Severe widespread flash flooding hit the area in October, and many of the survivors have insufficient personal funds, insurance, or other assistance to help with recovery. The teams have been preparing homes for the next step of rebuilding.

Joy in serving
Eric admits DR work can be hard, and days long, but it’s worth it. “By the time you get home, you’re dirty and exhausted … but then you rest. You rest in knowing that you were obedient to serve, that you loved your neighbors, and that you helped to fulfill the Great Commission, all through the strength that the Lord provides. You rest very well indeed!” he says.

Kristine agrees, “It is a sacrifice of time and work but a wonderful sacrifice and service to those in need! I am so blessed we have found Disaster Relief! I am also so blessed to be able to serve and love so many and have such wonderful godly conversations.”

Bob Douglass, a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, (back) and Eric Stone, a member of First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, served with the initial cleanup phase and returned to help with rebuilding (photo by Ellen Udovich).

DR teams always offer Bibles and prayer at DR sites. Eric gets excited at the opportunities to share with residents. “You meet homeowners during some of their toughest days. When they see the team of yellow shirts the response is always the same — relief. DR is so often the exact answer to their prayers. They pray for God to provide, and God uses us to do just that. We’ve prayed over so many homeowners who are struggling through hard times. And the Lord has moved the hearts of some of these homeowners to return to church,” he says.

One woman asked Eric and Kristine what church they attend and asked, “Can I come to visit?” Another said she plans to visit when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Kristine said the fellowship is an additional aspect of DR which she enjoys. “It has been so great working with all the volunteers, getting to know everyone, and developing long-lasting relationships. God is so great!”

“I’m active-duty military and I was surprised at how similar the camaraderie is between the DR teams and military units,” Eric shares. “There’s a mission to accomplish and your DR ‘unit’ works together to serve the Lord. Your unit becomes part of your family and the bonds are built around your mutual love for God. It’s just awesome!”
 
Bob Douglass, a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Huntingtown, Maryland, is retired and said he enjoys being active. “The main reason I help, though, is that I want to use my talents and skills to help other people out,” Douglass said.

Demetra Bennett, a member of Life Connection Church, and Bob Douglass pull debris from a damaged home (photo by Ellen Udovich).

Demetra Bennett, the wife of Pastor Martin Bennett, pastor of Life Connection Church in Severn, Maryland, helped out for one Saturday. “People were grateful that someone would listen to their stories,” she shares.

She was especially blessed after praying with a homeowner. “She was most grateful for that and she prayed for us too,” Bennett remembers. “We went to be a blessing and ended up receiving encouragement from those we sought to serve. That’s just like God!”

Bennett says she was also encouraged by the volunteers — some who dedicated their time every week to serve and be a blessing.

Rebuilding Volunteers Needed! No DR Training Required.
DR now needs new volunteers for the next steps in rebuilding. “These are basic repairs. We need people who can install sheetrock, help with interior doors, or installing bathroom sinks,” says Ellen Udovich, BCM/D consultant for community engagement.

The BCM/D is partnering with Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Relief (VOAD), which is providing overall coordination for rebuilding efforts. VOAD is reaching out to the larger faith community to raise funding for building materials. 

Volunteers and church mission teams can get more information or register to help by contacting Kim Hopkins or calling 340-643-7516.

To learn more about Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief, contact Ellen Udovich.

Cover photo: Kristine Sohn, a member of First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, helps with rebuilding following cleanup (photo by Ellen Udovich).