Oklahoma City area churches continue to join a new ecumenical disaster relief network aimed at effectively serving and providing long-term aid to disaster victims.
Stephen Brewer, associate director of the Austin Disaster Relief Network, said his Texas-based organization's recent training session for metro-area pastors and church leaders drew more than 300 people from more than 50 Oklahoma churches and ministries.
“I think so many churches in the city have been desiring to work together but not necessarily knowing how to do it,” he said recently. “We are absolutely amazed at God's provision.”
I told about the new disaster relief network being formed with Oklahoma churches in a June 8 story. Brewer and other representatives of the Austin network arrived in the metro area immediately after the May 19-20 tornadoes that left a trail of devastation in several areas of Oklahoma.
Brewer said he told Oklahoma clergy leaders that organizing themselves as a network and “adopting” families to assist long-term is an effective way to make a difference in the lives of disaster victims.
And the Austin leaders know this first hand.
In my previous story I said the Austin network formed to help victims of the 2011 Bastrop, Texas, wildfires. However, Daniel Geraci, the organization's director, said the network was an idea that came to him in 2005, shortly after he had talked to another clergyman about more than 6,000 New Orleans families who fled to Austin in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“In a brief moment, the majority of the entire plan for the network flashed in my mind. I wrote it down on a napkin and shared it with several key pastors/leaders in the city. All agreed it was from God,” Geraci said.
He said his vision of a church network officially formed in 2009. It now is a network of 113 churches in the greater Austin area.
Geraci and Brewer said more than 1,000 families are being sponsored by the churches participating in the Austin network, and they would like to see a similar cooperative effort in Oklahoma.
Brewer said the next step in the process will be the addition of more Oklahoma churches in the network. He said he also would like to see the churches that have signed up for the network recruit more families from within their congregations to provide help and support to tornado victims.
“We're believing that it will take over a hundred churches to do this,” he said.
Brewer said ultimately, unity will be key in the Oklahoma's network's success.
“I think working together is absolutely essential,” he said. “Jesus prayed that our hearts would be one. We can accomplish so much more.”