By Jean Bihn
When a disaster occurs, water service is often interrupted, leaving much-needed showers and laundry facilities hard to come by. That’s when Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers step in, bringing the necessities to minister to those in compromised living conditions.
One oversized piece of equipment in regular use is a shower trailer. In addition to providing a place to bathe, the trailers usually have laundry facilities. Unfortunately, last June, Arizona’s Disaster Relief shower trailer, a gift from the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention in 1999, was completely destroyed in a traffic accident.
Mitch McDonald, AZSBC missions facilitator, said even though the convention maintained insurance on the shower unit, it was very old.
“We have gotten thousands upon thousands of showers out of it,” McDonald said.
He said in addition to the trailer, the insurance company paid for a small percentage of its contents.
“We had to inventory every piece, literally everything that was on the walls: the towel bars, the towels, hooks — everything,” he said.
One of the many bright spots in the situation, McDonald said, was Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
“I could never thank [representative] Kevin Norton enough,” he said. “Kevin would make a personal call every week to get an update. Arizona Southern Baptists have a friend in Brotherhood Mutual Insurance.”
But one problem remained: To do the job AZSBC Disaster Relief is called to do, the trailer had to be replaced at a cost of $60,000 or more.
Then McDonald received a call from leaders with the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
“The Iowa convention had built a shower trailer but didn’t have a [truck] big enough to pull it,” he said, recalling the conversation. “They told us, ‘We’re going to give you that unit at what we have in it, $30,000.'”
The new trailer now boasts a color photograph of the Grand Canyon and “Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief” across its lengthy sides. Among its features are four showers, three washers and three dryers — it even has a counter for folding laundry.
“God is really the one that took what was a June tragedy and turned it into a January miracle!” he said.
God also taught him to stop being afraid to ask, McDonald said.
“God provided us with a state-of-the-art shower trailer. … The doors He has opened for us are just amazing,” he said.
With 400 active volunteers and a total of 1,000 trained volunteers, AZSBC Disaster Relief is the largest non-governmental trained group in Arizona, McDonald said. And thanks to El Niño, he added, 2016 has the potential to be the busiest year Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has ever seen.
“We brag on the omniscient hand of God to do things through us,” McDonald said.