ORANGE, Texas (Christian Examiner) – Anything could happen, says David Turner, pastor for 17 years of Little Cypress Baptist Church, where about 220 people gather for Sunday morning worship.
The church, its members and the community—20 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico—have endured several hurricanes, with the resultant physical and emotional damage, loss of public utilities for weeks on end, as well as the sense of helplessness in the face of nature's fury.
But any number of other natural disasters could create chaos: floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions. Non-natural disasters such as a widespread—or even individual—economic calamity could return America to a subsistence lifestyle, and, of course, something sinister such as an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack or foreign occupation would wreak havoc.
"Why be prepared for a crisis? We do it to obey the Word of God," Turner told the Christian Examiner, pointing to 1 Timothy 5:8 to bolster his statement: "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
"It is our goal for everyone to leave with expanded interest and some new skills," the pastor continued. "God receives glory as we share the gospel and expand our community's ability to respond to times of need."
For the fifth year in a row, Little Cypress Baptist Church is to host a "preppers event" the third Saturday in February.
"Preppers is the name given to those people who prepare in a variety of ways for most any crisis. Some build hidden shelters; some stockpile guns and ammunition. Most every prepper stores food and water. Entire industries have been built around "needs" of survivalists.
Little Cypress takes it a step farther, to prepare for a short- or long-term off-the-grid lifestyle. The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Crisis Preparedness Expoevent Feb. 21 is to include two dozen or more workshops and displays in a county fair atmosphere.
"We have hot dogs, links, something to drink, and people go from class to class," Turner said. "Some vendors share the Gospel at their booth. It's really kind of a fun thing to do."
On a page-long, two-column list of the workshops offered: Basic prepping: getting started; Crisis cooking; Milk goats/chickens/rabbits; Sanitation issues/waste disposal; Herbs for food and medical uses; Foraging in the woods; Pandemics, nuclear, emp, chemical/biological events; Why prepping, and does the Bible support it?
About 500 people attended this niche ministry event last February, including survivalists, "doomsday preppers," and a curious public. "We also had support from the Red Cross and the National Weather Service," the pastor said.
"This grass roots, no-cost-to-participate event is for Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana families who want to be prepared for a crisis," Turner said. "We also feature information that will help with sustainable living, like 'Building beehives' and 'Cane sugar production.'"
The Crisis Preparation Expo started after the devastation left by Hurricanes Rita (2005) and Ike (2008). Turner and a couple of pastor friends got to talking about their experiences. This led to a called meeting of at least a dozen pastors.
"We said, 'How do we help each other?,' and started a grassroots effort to find people who knew how to teach people to garden, raise chickens, deal with being without electricity and lots more," Turner said.
"The open forum this year during the lunch hour in the Expo Hall [at Little Cypress Baptist Church in Orange, Texas] will be about establishing a network of like-minded people in your neighborhood," the pastor continued. "This is a difficult thing for some people to do because of security concerns."
For more information visit www.LittleCypressBaptist.org.