BONHAM — After weekend storms froze parts of the Texas Panhandle — causing power outages across the region and downing tree limbs — a team from Bonham departed for that area Wednesday morning to help provide relief.
A crew of four volunteers with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief loaded up a trailer with chain saws, ropes and ladders to help clear fallen tree limbs and debris caused by the weather. The unit departed from the Boyd Baptist Church shortly after 8 a.m. to make the six-hour drive to Borger where they expected to work for a week.
“We don’t do this for our own glory or anything,” Monte Furrh, the leader of unit, said. “ … I’m not out here for me; I’m out here for the Lord.”
Furrh, 61, was joined by 79-year-old Harold Ingram, 63-year-old Elmer Reedy and 65-year-old Paul Wood. Furrh said they expected to help clear debris, but exactly what they do and for how long will depend on the situation for that area.
“How much damage is done out there is really what it amounts to,” Furrh said. “I have no idea until we get out there. They just said there’s a whole lot of trees and stuff on houses — limbs. When ice storms hit, the limbs and everything break off.”
In the many disasters Furrh has responded to, typically his team will be relieved by another SBTC team in about a week. Furrh joined the team about three months before Hurricane Katrina hit, he said. That was his first deployment. On average, the team will respond to five or six events per year. Last year, they responded to 15, most recently to the flooding disasters in North and South Carolina in October.
“Last year was pretty bad; we were getting hit from everywhere,” Furrh said.
While Furrh said their work helps people on a physical level, it also aims to help people on a more spiritual level. The disaster relief program also serves as a ministry for their church, and Furrh is quick to say why they do what they do.
“We serve Jesus Christ — that is the only reason we’re here,” Furrh said. “We serve Jesus Christ, and we do that by serving others and we witness to people.”
The three other men in the unit, who were sitting inside the Doge pickup with a SBTC logo on its side, all said what they do is fulfilling, but it serves a higher purpose.
“The church says everyone has a calling. Ours is going out and doing disaster relief,” Reedy, who has been with the unit for about four years, said.
Wood, who has been with the unit for about five years, said the best thing they get out of this service is when they can help lead someone to Christ. That is what makes their work important, he said.
Furrh noted that in times of disasters, it seems more people are open to hearing the word, and this SBTC unit is happy to share their faith. Furrh said that after responding to all these disaster scenes, it has changed his outlook. He said any of these damaged properties could easily be his own, so the unit is just eager to help where they can. In turn, he said people really appreciate what they do.
“I’m not out here to be acknowledged,” Furrh said. “This isn’t for me. There isn’t enough work in the world you can do to earn salvation.”
Reedy noted they’re able to do what they do from the support from the community and local churches, so he wanted to thank the community for that support.
“With all the news that’s out there these days, what we’re doing here might be a refreshing change for somebody that’s reading the paper,” Wood said.