The Yellow Shirt Army

Editor’s Note: The BCM/D has an active Disaster Relief ministry, a part of our BCM/D Ready initiative, with dedicated workers, but many more are needed! Perhaps God is calling you to this ministry — helping others in times of distress, being the hands and feet of Jesus with the ultimate goal of pointing them to Him. We’re offering two upcoming training sessions — one at Faith Glen Burnie Church on February 25 and another at First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro on April 22. Both offer the introduction to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, along with specialized training that differs slightly at each location. If you have questions, email Ellen Udovich. Become part of the Yellow Shirt Army! Read this Baptist Press First Person article written by Rick Lance, the executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

PRATTVILLE, Ala. (BP) – When terrible events happen, who are you going to call? The answer is often the Yellow Shirt Army – namely Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers.

Clayton Clark, the pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Rohresburg, Maryland, uses a chainsaw to remove felled trees. (submitted photo)

Across the SBC, many state conventions have trained people who make up this Yellow Shirt Army. They come from churches of all sizes: small, medium, and much larger congregations. They come from urban areas, smaller cities, and rural communities.

These trained members of the Yellow Shirt Army are called on to do some very important work in times of disaster. They move trees off houses and out of driveways so those affected can begin to rebuild their lives. The Yellow Shirt Army has mud-out crews who know how to do some of the so-called “dirty jobs.”

Other members of the Yellow Shirt Army devote themselves to providing food to those in need. I cannot imagine how many meals have been prepared and served throughout the years by members of the Yellow Shirt Army.

During my tenure as a state missionary serving Alabama Baptists, I have been an eyewitness to the sacrificial service of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief in my own state as well as in others. Members of the Yellow Shirt Army are among my biggest heroes. They give that cup of cold water in Jesus’ name when it is needed most.

Octogenarian Gwen Arthur, a member of Greenridge Baptist Church, in Clarksburg, Md., and a recently trained Disaster Relief volunteer, was saddened watching news broadcasts showing photos and videos of the devastation from recent flooding in Kentucky and asked to be deployed to the area. (photo submitted)

Furthermore, of eternal significance, each has been trained in sharing the gospel. Even as tragic circumstances persist, it’s always a blessing to hear the reports of people trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior through the witness of a member of the Yellow Shirt Army.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Alabama, and later caused the levees to flood in New Orleans, members of the Yellow Shirt Army moved into action in the affected areas. Their work was remarkable.

Reportedly, when then-President George W. Bush visited New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, he asked Michael Brown, his FEMA Director, “Who are these people in yellow shirts?” The response from Mr. Brown was, “Mr. President, they are Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers.”

For decades now, the Yellow Shirt Army has been hard at work serving the Lord in basic and essential ways during hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires. You won’t know each of their names, but they will do their best to be there when tragic events such as these happen.

From one who admires the work of this Yellow Shirt Army, I must express my gratitude for service beyond the call of duty. Join me in offering a big “thank you!” to all those who are members of our Yellow Shirt Army. May they continue to be used by our Lord in times when breaking news breaks our hearts.