Natural disasters are terribly inconvenient and come at the untimeliest moments.
Dear Heart of a Shepherd Friends and Followers,
Last Wednesday, Hillsdale was finishing four days of blessings after hosting, housing many, and feeding 200 guests for Baptist World Mission’s Annual Meeting. At the time, we had no way of knowing the devastation Hurricane Michael had created in Panama City and outlying coastal towns of the Florida Panhandle.
Our church family is tired, many of our members having taken vacation days to assist with the BWM conference. News of the suffering in the Panhandle followed by an invitation and request from Dr. Jan Milton, founder of Operation Renewed Hope, that Hillsdale organize to assist brethren and neighbors in northern Florida, motivated us to arise to the occasion in light of this principle:
1 John 3:17-18 – 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassionfrom him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Some have said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Our current goal is to send three teams to the Florida Panhandle. Our first team is focused in Panama City at Central Baptist Church and assisting Lighthouse Baptist Church. I am advised our second and third team will thrust out from Panama City to small coastal towns that have not received aid or assistance.
Hillsdale’s policy is to work with and through local churches that are like-minded and can continue as a Lighthouse of the Gospel long after we are gone. As I told our church family on Sunday, “We are not interested in taking credit for any effort. We are working with local churches for them to shine for Christ and minister to their families and neighbors.”
The expense of renting a large box truck, purchasing pallets of water, cases of non-perishable food, paper goods (including diapers), and cleaning supplies is enormous. In addition, the cost of fuel for hauling in trailers and heavy equipment if needed is beyond one local churches effort. The expense of our first team has exceeded $5,000 and we believe the second and third teams might be near the same.
I close with two challenges. The first, if you can GO, call our church office and request to speak to Family Pastor Eric Peterman to volunteer. The second, if you cannot go, GIVE. You can give online to Hillsdale at www.hillsdalebaptist.org, look for the Donations button in the upper righthand corner, select Other and designate to Disaster Relief Fund. 100% of your gift will go to defray the expenses incurred in our ministry in the Florida Panhandle.
With the heart of a shepherd,
Pastor Travis D. Smith
Hillsdale Baptist Church