Southern Baptist Disaster Relief’s Recovery After Hurricane Michael One Year Later

Two days after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall, Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City opened its battered facilities to Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers as they partnered to meet needs of the hurting community. A year later, the recovery continues. Florida Baptist Convention photo

Two days after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall on Florida’s Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, Florida Baptists’ disaster relief volunteers were there.

Headquartered at Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, volunteers were actively assessing damage, beginning to meet needs and sharing God’s love.

“We have always been a church very active with the Florida Baptist disaster relief ministry and knew it would be a beacon of light in our hurting community,” said Steven Kyle, senior pastor, Hiland Park Baptist Church. “I can remember seeing those yellow disaster relief hats and shirts show up on our main campus and immediately taking a breath of relief knowing much-needed help had arrived.”

Kyle explained that his church had decided “long before Hurricane Michael” to serve as the headquarters church for disaster relief “should the need arise.” With widespread devastation throughout the community as well as to Hiland Park’s three church campuses, the need was undeniable.

Many church members completely lost their homes to the hurricane’s wrath; Kyle estimates that as many as 95 percent of church members sustained some damage to their homes.

The first two weeks after the hurricane, Hiland Park didn’t have electricity, running water, chairs or a sound system. Worship services were held in a field across from the main campus of the church.

“Yet, those were some of the most Spirit-filled, Christ-centered worship services we’ve ever participated in,” Kyle said.

Amid the chaos, “Disaster relief not only brought some much-needed stability and security to our campus but also worked extremely well with my church staff. The disaster relief missionaries not only were able to do much needed ministry but also to give support and encouragement to my team,” he said.

Because of Hiland Park’s longtime involvement with disaster relief, Kyle said he “had an idea how the ministry worked.” Yet, with his church serving as the headquarters for Hurricane Michael’s disaster relief response, “I was able to see firsthand the detailed planning and structure that goes on behind the scenes. I was amazed to see even the smallest details discussed, planned and thoroughly bathed in prayer,” he said.

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Source: Baptist Press