By / Dec 17

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay discuss Southern Baptist Disaster Relief after the tornadoes, Omicron’s arrival to the U.S., and efforts to crackdown on unruly airline passengers. They also discuss the Christmas blues, the U.S. missionaries freed in Haiti, and the bipartisan deal on China’s human rights violations. 

ERLC Content


  1. Southern Baptists help with tornado aftermath
  2. Biden tours KY tornado damage
  3. Bipartisan deal on China stalls in Senate; ERLC resources
  4. U.S. missionaries freed in Haiti
  5. Flight attendants urge crackdown on unruly passengers
  6. Omicron is coming 


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  • The Dawn of Redeeming Grace // This episode was sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of The Dawn of Redeeming Grace .Join Sinclair Ferguson as he opens up the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel in these daily devotions for Advent. Each day’s reflection is full of insight and application and will help you to arrive at Christmas Day awed by God’s redeeming grace and refreshed by the hope of God’s promised King. Find out more about this book at
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By / Mar 3

Last week, a winter storm struck the American Southwest and Southeast, knocking out power in several states. Hardest hit was Texas, where all 254 counties were under extremely cold temperatures. Because of problems with the power grid, more than 3 million Texans were without electricity. Operators of the state’s power grid said the electrical system was “seconds or minutes” from collapsing and leaving Texans without electricity for months.

Along with the power outages, the state has been having issues with water. Approximately 590 public water systems in 141 Texas counties have reported disruptions in service, affecting 11.8 million people. Nearly 7 million citizens were also under boil-water notices, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and over half a million are still under such notices today.

Additionally, disruptions in the food supply chain left many people unable to get food. Grocery store shelves were empty and many people were unable to leave their homes because of snowed over roadways. In an attempt to keep warm, some people attempted to use gas burning stoves, resulting in domestic fires. The Houston Fire Department reported responding to 56 structure fires and over 100 calls related to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Storm-related incidents have to date resulted in about 40 deaths, though authorities say we may never know how many people died as a result of the frigid cold

Soon after the storm hit, a number of SBC organizations rushed to the aid of Texans. Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), partnered with Feeding America, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief, and Texas Baptist Men to help meet immediate needs for those affected by the storm. 

Food shortages became a serious issue for many people in need, notes Natalie Sarrett. Send Relief provided financial help to Feeding America food banks across Texas so they could resupply and avoid a larger food crisis.

“The help that Send Relief has provided through the food bank donations is assisting people across the most affected cities—it’s way more than a drop in the bucket,” said David Wells of Texas Baptist Men. “All three of our major cities—Dallas, San Antonio and Houston—have people in them who have never even seen snow before, and they’re depending on us and these food banks for help.”

In McKinney, Texas, says Sarrett, workers at a nursing home reached out to SBTC for emergency food rations. The state’s Disaster Relief was able to mobilize a food truck team to provide meals to residents and caretakers. Following this project, the city of McKinney also asked for them to serve first responders.

“They were so busy responding that they had skipped or were unable to obtain meals,” said Director of Disaster Relief Scottie Stice. “We appreciate the partnership with Send Relief and all our fellow state coordinators who have reached out to offer support and prayer—it is an incredibly difficult situation, and we would not be able to do this without you.”

By / Mar 21

Much of the Midwest is still recovering from the aftermath of the bomb cyclone that brought heavy wind, snow, and rain to the region early last week. A “bomb cyclone” is essentially a winter hurricane. The term is used by meteorologists when a low pressure system sees pressure drop more than 24 millibars in 24 hours, which can dramatically increase the severity of the weather system.  

More than 2,000 Iowans fled their homes due to flooding and risk of flooding, and 13 states reported at least some flooding, with major flooding being reported in eight states. Approximately 185 miles of Interstate 29 were closed between Omaha, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo., over the weekend, and the section of the Missouri River that runs between the two cities is expected to remain at or above record levels for the remainder of this week.

But no state has been hit as hard as Nebraska.

The damage

Four fatalities have already been reported, including a farmer who tried to save a stranger who was trapped in their car. James Wilke was driving his tractor over a bridge, with the guidance of emergency responders, only to have the bridge give out. When Wilke’s body was recovered, it was already too late. A family friend of Wilke’s, posting on Facebook, attributed the selflessness he displayed to his “amazingly strong faith.’

Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, was also partially evacuated after base officials determined water was rising too fast to be stopped, with most of the base’s 9000 service members displaced due to the flooding. Only essential personnel remain at the base, with at least one third of the base submerged as of Sunday night.

Seventeen locations around the state have already surpassed previous flood records, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says more will do so this week. More than 50 counties still remain in a state of emergency. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told CNN that, “This really is the most devastating flood we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history. So many people are being displaced; towns are being isolated.”

Many roads and bridges have flooded, and many more have even washed away altogether. Over 200 miles of levees have been compromised, This has created the need for air and water rescues, as individual properties and even entire towns have become isolated islands.

The flooding in more recent days comes on the heels of already-destructive wind and ice that pillaged farms across the Midwest last week. The Nebraska State Patrol posted a video on Friday that showed several land masses surrounded by water, each containing dozens of stranded cattle. Nebraska is the second-highest cattle-producing state in the country, and is a major producer of crops like corn as well, meaning the impact of the storm and flooding will be felt through the nation. According to The Wall Street Journal, Nebraska’s agricultural sector could be facing nearly a billion dollars in damages and losses.

Not over yet

Another round of rain came through on Tuesday, and much damage still left to be assessed, the end is not yet in sight for the state. Governor Ricketts has said he plans to submit a request for assistance to President Trump for disaster aid, and Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer said on Monday that she and the rest of Nebraska’s congressional delegation will back the request with a letter of support. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Midwest to survey the damage on Tuesday afternoon.

Even after the next round of rain passes, the road to recovery will be a long one. Hundreds of miles of infrastructure will have to be inspected for safety, homes will have to be repaired or rebuilt, and many will be left without permanent housing solutions in the meantime.

What can Christians do?

The temptation when disaster hits (especially when it does not affect us personally) is to read, learn, feel a moment of grief, and then move on. But while the news cycle will fade, the devastation will be felt many months from now. We honor the imago dei when we treat victims as people, not merely characters in a news story. Continuing to monitor the situation, pray, give, and remember the victims of these floods are ways that they can feel they are seen, heard, and loved. Victims are always more than “old news.”

By / Mar 11

On the afternoon of March 3, I remember telling my wife I hoped the storm would be past us by 3:00. We had been to church that morning, and knew there was a possible threat of tornadoes that afternoon. When the storm came through, we experienced only strong wind and rain. We had ample warning that there were tornadoes spotted just a few miles away in the communities of Beauregard and Smiths Station, but we had no idea the devastation that would visit our neighbors.

Two tornadoes came through our specific area that day, one ripped a path a mile wide and was categorized as an EF-4, with wind speeds over 170 mph (the same as a strong Category 5 hurricane). The damage and destruction it left behind is hard to imagine, let alone to see. Homes were blown from their foundations. Mobile homes and brick homes vanished—leaving only the concrete slab foundation. The trees twisted and torn, many so covered with the insulation from people's homes that it looked like they were covered in snow. The mangled earth made search and rescue incredibly difficult, but when the searching was finished there were 23 dead. Their ages ranged from six to 89, three were under the age of 10.

In addition to that sobering number, there are families who suffered no loss of life, but whose futures were permanently altered in tragic ways. One family with five children lost all earthly possessions and the father sustained injuries so severe he faces the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. He was the sole financial provider for his family. Their future is forever altered. Similar stories abound in this tragedy. The impact on families grieving the death of loved ones or friends, as well as families now adjusting to a new permanent reality, is heavy.

The community response

The grief of the local community was both immediate and overwhelming. Those who died or whose lives were affected are not just a list of names, but family, friends, co-workers, and schoolmates. For those very reasons the outpouring of tangible compassion was immediate and overwhelming. Local restaurants and businesses are collecting supplies for the families. People all over the community have contributed time, money, and effort to help with cleanup and donate clothes and donate blood and anything else that can be done at this time.

The church response

As encouraging as the response of the community at large has been, the response of the church has been even more welcome. The majority of relief efforts are coming through the church. Samaritan’s Purse arrived to train and organize cleanup efforts, and churches across denominational lines began organizing the collection of food, clothes, and other essential items within hours of the storm.

The rapid response of Southern Baptists have also been astonishing. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams of trained volunteers from local SBC churches (and from churches in surrounding counties in both Georgia and Alabama) began immediately with chainsaw work, serving as chaplains, providing food and laundry services, and doing so many other things in a carefully administered way. Those efforts and services are still ongoing.

These broader church efforts have been immensely helpful and necessary. But in acknowledging this outside help we should not overlook how the local churches of this community are working together. Providence Baptist Church has been a central gathering and collection point for many of the relief actions. The church, which is currently serving as the headquarters for the Red Cross, opened an entire wing of their building for the collection of clothes and other relief supplies. As other local churches have gathered relief supplies, they have taken them to Providence to be dispersed to the victims in the community.

How to help

It is remarkable how concern for the victims has come from individuals and even major corporations from across the nation. President Trump declared Lee County a major disaster area, which will allow federal aid to find its way to the area and to the victims. But even with that aid, there are additional needs. Let me identify three ways you can still help the victims.

  1. Pray for the families of those who lost everything they own, who lost loved ones, and whose lives will never be the same again. Imagine the needs you might have in such a scenario, and prayerfully consider how you can do for them what you wish they would do for you (Matt. 7:12). Pray that the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions” will comfort these victims in answer to the prayers of his people (2 Cor. 1:3-11). Pray that this comfort would continue to come for the indefinite future in tangible ways through the church.  
  2. Contribute to the physical relief of the victims, and do so in an intentionally specific way. Find a way to contribute to the relief of individual families for an extended period of time by contacting the Alabama State Board of Missions or the Tuskegee-Lee Baptist Association. They can direct you to one of our local churches.
  3. Consider not only how you can help right away, but how you can help six months from now. Because of the overwhelming response of our community and churches, many of the immediate needs are supplied. The greatest needs will be when the initial wave of help has returned home. It will take months for any semblance of normalcy to return to the families affected by the tornado. Consider contacting one of our churches in three to six months to see what needs are still present and how you might help.

The storm was over around 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. But for dozens of families in our community the storm is still a very present reality. May the Lord find us faithful to “comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4).

By / Nov 29

2018 has been one of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire seasons in California’s history. Dozens have been killed, tens of thousands have been displaced, hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned, and thousands of homes are destroyed.

There are two major fires which have taken up the majority of headlines. The larger of the two was the Camp Fire in Butte County in northern California. The other was the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles County in southern California. As of Wednesday night, these are the latest statistics for these fires according to CalFire and other local news agencies:

Camp Fire:

  • Start Date: 11/08/2018, 6:33 AM
  • Cause: Under investigation
  • Containment: 100 percent
  • Size: 153,336 acres
  • Structures Destroyed: 13,972 residences, 528 commercial and 4,293 other buildings
  • Civilian Casualties: 88 dead, 0 injured
  • Firefighter Casualties: 0 dead, 3 injured

With the death toll currently at 88, the Camp Fire is the nation’s deadliest wildfire in nearly a century. Roughly 196 people are still unaccounted for at this time.

Woolsey Fire:

  • Start Date: 11/08/2018, 2:24 PM
  • Cause: Under investigation
  • Containment: 100 percent
  • Size: 96949 acres
  • Structures Destroyed: 1,500
  • Structures Damaged: 341
  • Civilian Casualties: 3 dead, 0 injured
  • Firefighter Casualties: 0 dead, 3 injured

What’s next?

Thankfully, both fires are fully contained after California got its first winter storm. Unfortunately, this will also bring about new risks, including flooding, mudslides, and runoff of ash and debris. Normally, when it rains, the ground is able to absorb a large amount of the rain. The different plants, trees, and other foliage help keep the soil together with their root systems. However, remove these things and add a layer of ash and debris (which can repel water), and this creates a perfect recipe for mudslides, flash flooding, and rivers formed from a slurry of rain and ash and debris. All these things could impede the search for the victims still missing. Areas which have steep gradients (slopes) are especially at risk for these kinds of threats. While no mudslides have yet been reported, be cautious if you live downhill from an area that has recently been burned.

While the fires are now contained, the aftermath still remains, and there are still needs to be met. As I mentioned in my previous article, I would encourage Christians worldwide to continue to pray diligently, give generously, comfort sympathetically, and love compassionately, being the hands and feet of Christ to those who have tangible needs. These needs will still remain long after the fires disappear from the headlines. And, if you know a firefighter or police officer, thank them for their service. It’s during times like these when we rely on them most.

By / Sep 21

Soon after Hurricane Florence devastated areas of the East Coast, Southern Baptists from across the country rushed to the area to provide help. Here are five facts you should know about their efforts.

1. Southern Baptists have been officially involved in disaster relief for 50 years. It began in 1968 when Texas Baptists assisted victims of Hurricane Beulah. At that time the Brotherhood Commission, along with state Baptist Brotherhood leadership, took the lead in organizing Southern Baptists to respond to disasters by creating the coordinating agency for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) and hiring the first national disaster relief director. The turning point for SBDR came in 1989 when Southern Baptists responded to Hurricane Hugo. Since that time, Southern Baptists have grown to become the third largest disaster relief organization in the country, behind only the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Nearly 70,000 Southern Baptists across the country are currently trained to handle disasters.

2. Today, SBDR units from around the country send kitchen, shower and laundry units to disaster sites, along with the hundreds of volunteers required to operate them.  In storms, hurricanes and tornados, volunteer chain saw and flood clean-up crews also deploy to assist those in need.  In just the first week of response after Hurricane Florence, for example, disaster relief units from at least nine state conventions  set up feeding units or were preparing to do so for storm victims and emergency workers.

3. Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), also plays an important and complementary role in disaster response. They maintain a fully stocked warehouse at their Appalachian Ministry Center in Ashland, KY, primed and ready to send food and supplies when the need arises. Shelves are packed with water, prepackaged food, rolled roofing, chainsaws, generators and just about anything else a storm response calls for. Even before Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas earlier this month, Send Relief tractors trailers were on the road with supplies for distribution by their SBDR and church partners. 

4. Send Relief and SBDR work alongside federal agencies like FEMA and state and local emergency response agencies.Funding comes directly from churches, mostly by funding that is passed through state conventions and the SBC’s Cooperative Program (CP).

5. The Send Relief website offers numerous resources to help you and your church prepare for natural disasters and help those in need, including a Disaster Relief Prayer Guide, a Church Preparedness Plan, funding Crisis Response Buckets (which include heavy-duty cleaning supplies, protection and tools to help families start the cleanup from water or wind damage), and participating in a disaster response effort. You can also directly volunteer or give to Disaster Relief by contacting your state Baptist convention Disaster Relief office.

By / Sep 17

As you read this, many families in North and South Carolina have been devastated by Hurricane Florence. Some will go back to a place they called home and find everything destroyed by floodwaters. Others will undo plywood boards and remove trees only to see severe house damage. Many churches and businesses are damaged or destroyed. Digging out and starting over can be expensive, exhausting, and emotionally draining. The people of the Carolinas need your help.

Here’s what you can do:

Pray for the victims

The Bible compels us to pray for those who are in need. Psalm 34:18 says that the Lord is “near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Here are six things you can pray for those in hurricane-affected areas:

  1. Peace in the midst of turmoil
  2. Adequate food, shelter, and transportation
  3. Access to relief resources and relief agencies
  4. Streamlined process for applying for aid
  5. Financial resources to rebuild their lives
  6. Opportunities to display God’s glory in the midst of suffering

Give to NAMB’s Send Relief

The North American Mission Board’s Send Relief is the third largest disaster relief operation in the country and arguably the most effective. This unique model works with local state conventions, Baptist associations, and local churches to train, mobilize, and send volunteers into affected areas. Federal, state, and local governments routinely recognize the SBC for the effectiveness of their relief programs. You can give to Send Relief here. For more information, you can read a detailed news story and profile of the organization here.

Sign up as a disaster relief volunteer

You can sign up to volunteer with disaster relief through Send Relief or through your state convention. Your local SBC church may even have a disaster relief coordinator. You can donate as much time as you want, whether a week, weekend, or even just a couple of days. Your contribution will go a long way in helping people rebuild their lives.

Organize a disaster relief fund and crew in your church

You can help organize your church's role in providing relief. My advice is to go through Send Relief, rather than attempt this on your own. Your first instinct might be to get a truck full of bottled water and a crew and head to the Carolinas, but you’d probably be more effective and supported by organizing a group in your church and working through Send Relief or your local state convention or association. This will help you and your church steward resources well and put you in the most vital locations.

As Southern Baptists, we are privileged to have organizations that enable us to serve well in Jesus' name when disaster strikes. They make it as simple as possible for our churches to step in and bring a cup of cold water, a hot meal, warm clothes, and a message of hope. If you and your church are able, I encourage you to pray about how you can get involved in bringing relief to those who are suffering. 

By / Sep 22

Discipleship with the Suffering Servant changes the way we live during a disaster. When hurricane Harvey pummeled the greater Houston area, the Church of the risen Lord Jesus responded in ways I’ve never seen. I don’t just mean in the tonnage of relief supplies and sweat dropped during the recovery efforts. I’m talking about unity.

Churches are working across denominational lines to help Houston recover. Our little church alone has worked with Methodists, Bible Churches, Non-Denominational, Anglican, and more. Disaster didn’t divide the churches in Houston—it united us. And just this past weekend, our church hosted teams from churches in Austin and Commerce, Texas, and another team that drove from Phoenix, Arizona to help us mud-out and demo flood-hit homes in Houston. Why? Why did we bear the burdens of our neighbors? Why are Christians acting this way? Jesus and his so-called Golden Rule.

“Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

The urgency of the Golden Rule

Disaster didn’t divide the churches in Houston—it united us.

There are certain ethical situations which are often difficult to navigate, taking time, serious thought, counsel, and research. The answer to other situations is simple. If Jesus is my Lord, then the Golden Rule isn’t just décor for Sunday School rooms.

The Golden Rule strapped a life vest on me and put me on a rescue boat. As the rain kept pouring, and pouring, and pouring, I looked out my window and saw my street draining smoothly. But I started to hear of streets swelling with water. Ten minutes from my house, people were trapped. Single moms were in danger. The elderly needed immediate help. I couldn’t stay home and watch Netflix anymore.

The words of the Lord Jesus wouldn’t let me kick my feet up while I heard that my neighbors were in need. I knew, by faith, something had to be done. A friend at church texted and said he found a boat, told me to meet him at a makeshift rescue and dispatch station. By faith, I was ready.

Our boat cruised over a four-lane road, covered in five feet of water. We went over mailboxes, cars, and docked our boat at the first address we were given. I hoped it was the right address. I couldn’t see the numbers. Terry and his wife were trapped upstairs with three feet of water in their home. And the waters kept rising. Terry, in his 60s, is paralyzed from the waist down and has limited use of his arms. We put him in his wheelchair, carried him downstairs, and hoisted him up into the boat, along with his wife and their dogs.

If I were paralyzed and trapped upstairs of my flooding home, I’d want someone to rescue me. Sure, it was a little dangerous. But it would have been more dangerous to ignore my neighbor and walk on the non-flooded side of the street. Discipleship is always dangerous to self.

The simplicity of the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, and the ethics of loving thy neighbor as thyself, is not complicated. What would you want done for you? Our Lord says, “Do that for them.”

If my home had six feet of water in it, destroying nearly everything hit by the polluted waters—photo albums, clothes, children’s soccer cleats—would I want to mud-out my home by myself? Never. I would want—need!—others to help empty my garage, rip out sheetrock, and carry scraps of water-logged carpet to the curb. Jesus tells me what I should do. “Whatever you’d want done for you, do it for them.”

No ethics committee needs to be organized for these moments. It’s simple—and supernatural. The Golden Rule is so simple, and monumental, that it can be described in a single sentence—and yet, it can summarize the Law and Prophets. It is the aroma of faith in the reigning Nazarene.

Don’t sleep on the Golden Rule. It might toss you onto a rescue boat. Jesus’s words may cause you to pick up a hammer, become an amateur dispatcher, or even make gallons of gumbo for a shelter. The Golden Rule may even cause you to slow down and listen to what someone else is going through. These famous words from Jesus may even lead you to unite with another church down the street.

What would change in your life today as you live by faith in your crucified and risen Lord? How would the do of the Golden Rule move you if you listened Jesus? Rescue boats, demo crews, and donations for disaster relief come and go. Neighbors do not. Opportunities to live by faith are ripe everywhere. Pick them.

The Man of Sorrows was acquainted with our grief. He loved us in the depths of our personal disaster. He motivates us to enter into the sorrow of others, helping us point them to a refuge and help above the clouds, beyond the horizon.

When we got Terry to dry land, we put him in a truck, loaded up his things, and I told him one thing. It all happened so fast, I could only think of one thing to say as our eyes locked: “The Lord Jesus be with you.”

That’s what I needed to hear too.