Sue and David Cook: A Disaster Relief love story

By Irene A. Harkleroad | Jul 6, 2021

When Sue and David Cook met in 2018 at Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City, they were both passionate about helping others. But they never dreamed they would spend countless hours cutting down trees and pulling brush in hurricane battered Lake Charles, Louisiana, or sifting through the remains of fire-ravaged homes in Granby and Boulder, Colorado.

A friend at Calvary Baptist Church gave David a copy of Portraits magazine with a story about Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,

Sue read the story in the magazine she received in the mail.

They didn’t know each other at the time, but it was the beginning of a new chapter for both of them. In 2019, they married and jumped into the exciting, rewarding world of Disaster Relief.

The Cookses attended statewide Disaster Relief training on February 28-29, 2020, at Gateway Fellowship in Gilbert. They trained for the feeding unit, ash-out and recovery work, and the chainsaw team.

Since then, they have served on six callouts and have been instrumental in getting regional training in their area.

Sue has become a Disaster Relief chaplain and uses her skills in other areas of ministry.

Disaster Relief is a life of adventure. No one knows exactly how events will play out. Fifteen feet above sea level in Louisiana, the Cookses were pulling brush and putting a chainsaw to good use. They worked through steamy mud and total devastation. In Colorado, at 8,000 feet above sea level, they worked in blizzard-like conditions.

In Granby, Arizona Disaster Relief workers Dave and Norma Turner and David and Sue Cook served together, recovering personal items for homeowners. David Cook was asked to join the chainsaw team and remove some trees at a homeowner’s request. His personal best: taking down 24 trees that day. Sue learned to drive the skid steer and helped move the cut trees out of the way so property owners could potentially start rebuilding.

“The Turners became mentors to us,” Sue said.

“We are scheduled to return to Colorado during the first two weeks in August to continue some ash-out work with Colorado Southern Baptist teams,” she said.

David will be the Blue Hat (supervisor) on the team.

“That’s a challenge for me — to lead people from this area who were trained with us,” he said.

Every deployment is different and things can change at the last minute. A volunteer might be cooking, serving or delivering meals, pulling brush, repairing roofs, doing laundry, manning the shower trailer, assessing damages or moving equipment.

“You have to be very flexible,” David said. “God has taken us out of our comfort zone a few times, but He is faithful. When you step back and watch other people work — to see all those people being fed — you wonder how that’s going to happen. It’s an inspiration.

“It’s been fun and it’s very rewarding. You get to meet people and become involved in their lives. It’s not the status quo. I’ve never done anything like this, so it’s an all-in challenge. We have both been blessed. God is on our side.”

They both agree that there is nothing fancy about the program or the work but it does affect people’s lives in a profound way. Their advice: Go for it!

When you give to the Arizona Mission Offering, you have a part in the ministry of Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Twelve-and-a-half percent ($25,000) of the offering goes to Disaster Relief. The money is used to acquire and maintain equipment, as well as purchase fuel and supplies that keep the teams ready for rapid response across the country. Learn more about the Arizona Mission Offering at azsbc.org/amo/.

Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.

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