Gayton previewed a new nexus service in September 30, and Aaron shared the first part of the message on the lessons of the first churches and what we can learn about leading the church.
Over the past seven years, we have been involved in packing more than 1,000,000 meals to feed hungry kids around the world. In April, we spent a week in Haiti seeing these meals in action with Feed My Starving Children.
A line of violent storms strikes the region, causing significant damage, widespread power outages, and leaving a trail of debris. Cleanup will take weeks to complete.
A tree falls in a senior adult’s yard, blocking her driveway. She is on a fixed income and does not have the thousands of dollars quoted to her by the tree removal company to remove the tree. Who does she call?
Tricia (not her real name) is a real person, affected by a recent summer storm in Central Virginia. Across town, Marianne had a similar dilemma. Both called the county’s department of public works. County staff could not respond to private property, so the local emergency manager reached out to the voluntary sector.
Volunteers mobilized to each home, helped each homeowner cut the trees and prepare the debris to be hauled off.
Debris removal, damage assessment, and demolition of storm damaged homes. Flood cleanup and mold remediation. Donation and volunteer management. Mass feeding and shelter site operations. Showers, clothing, laundry, and lodging. Rehab for first responders such as a warm cup of coffee or snack. Patient care and search and rescue.
The capabilities of the voluntary sector have been showcased in the Commonwealth this year in the response to the February tornadoes, flooding near Covington in June, and in countless local disasters throughout the state.
Voluntary organizations can be a bridge between the private and public sector while also helping local governments persuade citizens of safe and smart courses of action in the short term. They can also prepare citizens to mitigate future losses from disasters.
Utilizing trained and skilled volunteers, these organizations are able to provide tremendous cost-savings to localities by offering valuable services. They maintain stringent training programs to ensure skilled safety guidelines and provide high quality services.
During the tornado response and recovery in Essex last winter, Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Brann shared that “Team Rubicon was in charge of the volunteer reception/coordination site…and a donation center was set up and run by local churches.”
Voluntary organizations active in disaster formed a national network in 1970, and state and local affiliates have sprung up across the country, including across the Commonwealth.
Above all, it is the caring hand from the voluntary sector that makes the difference. “It was a good feeling,” Brann says, “to know there are still people wanting to help and care for others in desperate times…We now have a stronger community because of the volunteers.”
Aaron Lee is BGAV Disaster Response Coordinator, leading volunteers from across the Commonwealth trained in multiple disciplines to respond in disaster. Aaron also serves as Vice-Chair of the Virginia Capital Area VOAD, a Richmond area regional VOAD network. He can be reached at Aaron.Lee@BGAV.org.
Ben Nicely is a former Emergency Planner for Henrico County, Disaster Program Manager/Coordinator of the American Red Cross that covered Central Virginia, Fredericksburg and the Northern Neck and former Chairman of the Rappahannock Regional VOAD. Ben serves as the Secretary of the Virginia Capital Area VOAD. He can be reached at email@example.com
This column originally appeared in Richmond Family Magazine, October 2014.
For a few weeks last fall, my daughter was mad at me. No hugs, no kisses, and she picked Mama to read every night at bedtime.
I tried not to take it too personally, but I couldn’t imagine what I possibly could have done to make her so upset with me. And she hadn’t even turned two yet.
Good grief, I thought, this parenting thing is going to be tougher than I imagined.
My wife, being the genius she is, suggested we have a daddy-and-daughter date. And, being the smart guy I am, I agreed. Then I needed a plan.
So what in the world was I going to do with my almost-two-year-old when it was cold outside? Parks, walks, and any outside-only activities were most likely off the table. I thought hard for a few days coming up with the perfect date for just the two of us.
I realized I was planning this daddy-and-daughter date like I was engineering a skyscraper – as though this would be the one and only time we would ever do this. Then I remembered this needed to be the first of many dates. The stakes were lowered, and my own expectations became much more reasonable.
So Monday morning came, and we went out for coffee. She stepped right up to the barista’s counter, and in her sweet little voice ordered her own chai. She loves taking little sips of her mom’s chai tea, but on this morning, I made her a two-year-old version: one cup of milk and two shakes of cinnamon.
She loved her drink and our time together, and I loved it, too. When we finished, I took her to the sitter and then made my way to work for the day, just a little later than usual. And all of a sudden, we had started a regular thing.
Since it’s fall again, and it’s getting cold outside, here are my top five dates for dad and the kids. These ideas do not require a great deal of planning or financial investment. All kids really need is our time.
- Donuts with Dad
Coffee and 2-year-old-style chai was great, but adding donuts to the outing made it even better. Our thirty minutes out of the house on a Saturday morning gave her mom a break and some quiet time to herself, and it was a chance for us to have breakfast together.
Our top pick is Dixie Donuts on West Broad Street for the donut holes. These days, it seems like most every neighborhood in Richmond has great donuts, though. From Sugar Shack to Country Style, Dunkin’ Donuts to Krispy Kreme, we’re living in the donut capital of the South, and donuts are not very expensive either.
Don’t like donuts for breakfast? We even had breakfast at a diner on the way to the doctor’s office one Saturday morning. We like our early-morning dates.
- Projects with Dad
My wife and I often laugh about our own childhood experiences. She would take trips to the hardware store with her dad, and I would visit the local craft store in Bon Air with my mom. We both explored these places and still feel nostalgic when we go there as adults.
I vividly remember my daughter’s first trip to Lowe’s. She was only a few months old and definitely won’t remember anything about that night, but I do, and we have pictures to prove it. Now, she loves riding in the cart with the supplies for whatever we’re building. She explores the aisles with me and helps pick out what we need to make the project a success. And when we get home, we work together. Or I work, and she helps.
- A Night Out with Dad
Do you have school-aged kids? Pay attention to your school’s parent newsletter and look for PTA activities and other opportunities from school like Donuts with Dad or Dedicated Dad. There are local restaurants which also schedule date-night-with-dad-type events, featuring a themed meal or special entertainment.
If your school or favorite local restaurant doesn’t have something on the calendar, you might ask about a special event and help make it happen. Your kids will be proud, and you’ll have the top dad award (at least for a while).
These experiences offer you a chance to get out of the house, enjoy some time with your kids, and give you the opportunity to be around other dads who are doing the same thing.
- A Trip with Dad
I’m not there yet, but I have heard dads of teenagers who plan a rite-of-passage trip with each of their kids. When the child hits one of those teenage milestone birthdays, they spend a few days together in a state park, on a camping trip, or in a nearby city.
The point? Spend focused time celebrating the young adult your child is becoming and develop your relationship. The rewards of these trips will manifest themselves throughout your child’s young adult years. Of course, day trips are an option as well.
- Play Time with Dad
Put down the phone (except to snap a quick photo to remember your day), leave work and chores behind, and just play. Bundle up and play ball in the front yard, go for a brisk walk in a neighborhood park, or jump in the leaves. The more outside-the-box you go, the more memorable the time will be. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an all-day affair.
Kids benefit from the active involvement of their dad. Any one of these experiences will make them feel special, increase their confidence, and give them something to talk about on the playground or with their friends.
With baby number two on the way this fall, my dates with both girls will be even more important. Each of my daughters will need to know she’s important to her dad. If you have more than one child, try to take them out together and individually. Those moments will breed the memories they carry with them throughout life. Here’s to making great memories with your kids this fall!
Real Dad Aaron Lee is husband to Kim and dad to a 2-year-old and a baby girl. By day, he is director of programming at First Things First of Greater Richmond, strengthening fathers and families throughout Richmond.
This post originally appeared at BGAV.org.
Over a period of ten days last month, a twelve-member team of college-age young adults spent time in three Romanian cities, worshipping, serving and offering a relational presence.
“Our lessons were hospitality-oriented,” reflects Welford Orrock, leader of the BGAV’s Kairos Initiative and co-team leader of this team. “One of the most important things a short-term team can do is land well.”
And land well they did. Experiencing the warm hospitality of our Romanian partners, the Kairos Initiative mission team moved from Bucharest to Sibiu to Cluj, worshipped in Baptist churches throughout the country, came alongside Romanian partners in ministry experiences and saw the beauty of the country.
The team spent time with kids through Providence Baptist Church’s ministry in Bucharest, taught in Bethany Baptist Church’s English as a Second Language program in a local high school, and visited shut-ins through the work of Bethel Baptist in Cluj.
Through the BGAV’s partnership with Romanian Baptists, the Kairos Initiative mission team, led by Orrock and Blake Tommey, Baptist Collegiate Minister at the University of Virginia, brought these students together from around the state for a year-long experience of mission, leadership and calling.
The Kairos Missions Initiative is an annual short term mission immersion experience through the Kairos Initiative of the BGAV. Each year a team of 10-12 college-aged young adults travel internationally to serve with BGAV mission partners and spend time reflecting on their cross-cultural experiences to explore the ways God is calling them to live missional lives at home and abroad.
“By the end, we want them to understand what partnership missions is all about,” Orrock shared. “We don’t want to tell them, though, we want them to experience partnership.”
What Makes Partnership Missions Different?
In the early 1980’s, mission for Virginia Baptists began to be about more than sending money for someone else to be a missionary.
“It’s not just about sending money,” says Craig Waddell, Partnership Missions Coordinator for the BGAV “We can go ourselves.”
Bringing the Body of Christ together globally and transforming the people who go expands the church’s perspective on how God is at work in the world.
“When [teams] come back,” Waddell continues, “they have a greater vision for what the Kingdom is and can be.”
In the early years of partnerships, Virginia Baptists used fulltime field personnel from US-based mission agencies to work as a conduit, but as partnerships have progressed, the relationships have grown to include more indigenous leadership. By highlighting the relationship with the national Baptist union in a partner country, participants gain a greater understanding of life and ministry in the partner country.
Waddell says the idea of a partnership “is a way for us to work together across geographic and national boundaries in order to be available for others.”
This idea has grown into a theme for Virginia Baptist partnerships: “together for others.”
“It’s a way to enlarge [our] vision of the Kingdom of God,” Waddell shares. “It’s a way for God to combine our gifts to address Kingdom issues. It helps to give a perspective not limited by cultural biases.”
Will Cumbia, part of the William & Mary Baptist Collegiate Ministry and a member of Chancellor Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, experienced this in Romania.
“I learned how vastly small the world is and how similar the human experience is even half-way around the world,” Cumbia says. “I learned that God’s love and compassion transcends all borders, languages, and cultures.”
For the Kairos team, the close relationships with Romanians allowed for honest questions about social dynamics, the political history of Romania and the personal stories of their new friends.
Once the team arrived in Romania, they added full-time team members who helped drive and translate, but, Orrock notes, they became fully-vested members of the team, too.
“The most important moments of the trip for me were the moments in between scheduled time,” Orrock says, “after worship had ended, riding somewhere in the van.”
Prioritizing the time to begin conversations and focusing on people over completing a project are trademarks of a partnership mission experience.
Catalin at Impact
We have ministry needs in the communities around BGAV churches, too, and our partners can join us. This summer, four Romanians will serve across Virginia.
Catalin Robu (pronounced “Kat-a-lynn”), a student at Romania’s Universitatii Politehnica din Bucuresti (University Politehnica of Bucharest), joined the Impact Mission Camp staff for the summer.
Catalin says he has seen God at work in Virginia “day after day, worshipping God, going to job sites, talking with others and seeing God work in their lives. I see God changing lives [through Impact].”
Relationships are important for Virginians and Romanians in partnership missions, and Catalin says he enjoys developing new friendships. He says he will continue to focus on building relationships when he returns to Romania later this summer.
The highlight of the summer for Catalin has been these new friendships, knowing if he never sees them again on Earth, “I’ll see them in Heaven.”
“We’re already on partnership with each other,” Waddell believes, “because the Body of Christ is a grand partnership. With one particular partner, we decide to journey together for a season.”
The Romanian Baptists issued an invitation for Virginia Baptists to partner with them on what they envision their call to be throughout Romania. Through an official relationship, opportunities such as the Kairos Initiative mission team can come to life.
As an official partnership winds down this year with the Panama Baptist Convention, another current Virginia Baptist partnership, Waddell is currently exploring a future partnership.
“We’re looking for a situation where the local body of believers is already addressing a human need,” Waddell says, “where we can work together to multiply the impact.”
Waddell also hopes our future BGAV partnerships will allow us to continue relationships with former partners, continuing to join together in shared mission around the world.
Over the next six months, the Kairos Initiative mission team will gather with Orrock and Tommey to continue debriefing, but also to grow and develop individually as they continue to respond to how God will use their experiences in Romania to shape life at home.
“Everything we do [in the Kairos Initiative] is meant to have a trickle-down effect,” Orrock says, indicating the need for Kairos-backed experiences to translate to the local level in individual expressions of leadership, community relationship and the missional life, and through corporate expressions of worship and service.
“One of our goals with volunteers is to help them understand these opportunities as part of their Christian discipleship,” says Dean Miller, Glocal Missions team leader. “These are not meant to be standalone events, but rather a step of the faith journey, and we want to empower the church and individuals toward continuing discipleship opportunities, such as small groups, book reviews and dialogues.”
Post originally appeared at BGAV.org.
When Hurricane Isabel bore down on the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003, disaster relief volunteers across the state and around the country prepared to respond on a large scale.
Thankfully, large scale disasters like Hurricane Isabel happen infrequently in Virginia, but smaller disasters like the derecho of June 2012, heavy snow in Southwest Virginia in 2015, tornadoes in Central Virginia in 1993 and severe thunderstorms or flooding happen more frequently and cause serious damage in our communities.
These localized disasters still require significant contributions from the community to provide families relief on the road to recovery. Is your church prepared to respond on short notice?
University Baptist Church in Charlottesville mobilized volunteers to prepare meals for search teams after the disappearance of Hannah Graham in September 2014, and Wise Baptist Church used their church kitchen to feed those respondingtuni to snowstorms in February 2015.
Michael Cheuk, pastor at University Baptist, says to be prepared means that “we are a part of our community and neighborhood, and we want to be a part of the solution when a need arises.”
Here are a few ways your church can prepare to respond to local disasters and crises:
Understand Your Resources
Do members in your church have chain saws and other power tools to help cut trees and make small repairs for your neighbors?
Does your church have a kitchen that could be used to prepare nutritious meals for residents or responders after a crisis?
Do you have large gathering areas, showers, generators, or other resources that could be put to use?
“You don’t have to be prepared to address every need in the community,” Cheuk says. “Find out what your members are good at doing and passionate about, and focus on preparedness in those areas.”
Think creatively about your resources and know what you have and how you could use it to respond to needs.
Communicate About Your Resources
Tell your church about the resources you have. When a small disaster strikes, they can make referrals from their neighbors, using word of mouth to spread the good news about your church’s willingness to respond. Spend some time communicating as you initiate your plans, but also continue to remind folks each year.
You should let your local emergency manager know of the resources you have available. In small disasters, the county may respond without any outside help, and your church can be on the front lines of the response, serving in a time of great need.
Also share your resources with the Virginia Baptist Disaster Response office. Through local and regional networks, Virginia Baptists are often called upon to respond in local communities because of our significant resources throughout the Commonwealth in our churches. If the state office knows the resources you have available, we can connect you to opportunities in your region as we receive requests.
We can share the hope of God in times of great need, and a little preparation and planning will go a long way toward making a significant difference in your community.
Learn more about Virginia Baptist Disaster Response and find out how you can join response efforts across the state and throughout North America.
Contact our office to learn more about responding as a church in your community, and read the rest of this preparedness series.
First Things First of Greater Richmond (now the Relationship Foundation of Virginia) wanted to create promotional video to engage donors and volunteers with the Amazing Raise, a 36-hour online fundraising drive.