Eyes on the Arizona Mission Offering: Disaster Relief serves in Chinle

By Claudia Macdonald | Aug 15, 2023

Patty Kirchner

God’s timing is always perfect and often remarkable.

Patty Kirchner, the feeding unit manager for Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, was on her way home from a training session in Kingman when she received a call from the Red Cross. The humanitarian organization needed Disaster Relief’s help in Chinle, a town in the Navajo Nation.

While the April showers were a blessing to the dry state, they caused the snow in Chinle to melt, breach levees and flood homes. The Red Cross set up a shelter as the Navajo government evacuated residents.

Seventeen or more people in need of food were anticipated to be at the shelter. Kirchner assembled a freshly trained team of five, the quick response unit (a self-contained kitchen trailer) and warehouse trailer (an extra freezer) and trekked to Chinle, preparing to make about 50 meals.

It turned out the original 17 or so were now predicted to be around 200. Kirchner had planned to go to the only grocery store in the area to do the shopping but realized the grocer wouldn’t have the quantity now needed.

However, God’s timing is as perfect as His provision. Don Vickers, Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief director, “happened” to be going to the remote area and was able to bring more food.

“God provided,” Kirchner said. “He always does.”

With Vickers’ help and three more volunteers who came across the state, Disaster Relief made about 375 lunches and 250 dinners that first day and 2,700 meals in over a week. God also provided an Arizona Southern Baptist church — Memorial Baptist Church — as a place for the team to stay and orchestrated The Salvation Army to arrive after Disaster Relief had to leave for another commitment.

While no deaths were reported, many of the people receiving meals had been stranded in their homes without food for days.

“The people were just so grateful and happy to have meals,” Kirchner said. Disaster Relief not only fed displaced people but also workers repairing the breached levees.

Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Chaplain Sue Cook was also on site and able to minister to people through prayer and gospel conversations.

It’s through the Arizona Mission Offering that Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief receives its annual budget.

“Without that support, we would not be able to make any plans in responding to needs in Arizona and across the United States,” Vickers said. “We are very grateful for the generous support that Arizona Baptists provide through this offering. It is because of your support that we are able to go.”

Claudia Macdonald, a freelance writer living in Phoenix, is a member of First Southern Baptist Church at Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale.

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