Conversation: Kary Kingsland
Kary Kingsland serves as U.S. director of disaster response
for Convoy of Hope. Recently, he spoke with Managing Editor Kirk Noonan about
Convoy of Hope’s partnership with the Assemblies of God and how that shared
mission has united members of both organizations to be agents of change in
their local communities.
tpe: How effective has the partnership between Convoy of
Hope and the Assemblies of God in the U.S. been in the past decade?
KINGSLAND: Tremendous doors have opened wide as the
Assemblies of God and Convoy of Hope have served impoverished people and those
impacted by disaster in the United States and throughout the world. The
partnership has positioned Convoy of Hope to be a very influential organization
in the field of disaster response. From the local church to the nation’s
capitol, we have emerged as a leading voice to the government and the
tpe: Statistically, what does this partnership look like?
KINGSLAND: In the past 10 years, the Assemblies of God and
Convoy of Hope have responded together to 75 disasters. That includes 9/11, the
2004 hurricanes and Hurricane Katrina. In 1998, when we launched the
international division of Convoy of Hope, we also responded to floods in Del
Rio, Texas. That was our first domestic disaster response. In 2004, we realized
we needed to be more strategic in our domestic relief response, so we developed
an arm of the ministry to reach out to help individuals and families being
devastated by disasters here in the States.
tpe: When it comes to disaster relief here in the States,
what is one of the things that sets Convoy of Hope apart from other like-minded
KINGSLAND: One of the things that we have become known for
is our ability to transport and distribute massive amounts of product to those
in need very quickly through our Points Of Distribution (POD) model. But the
thing we always do is abide by the guest of honor principle, a core value of
COH that keeps us focused on serving the individual while we reach the local
We are only able to do that because of the help of local
Assemblies of God churches. Volunteers from those churches are our best face to
a hurting community. In the last 10 years of our partnership with the
Fellowship, more than 800 churches, 1,000 teams and 20,000 volunteers have
helped those reeling from disaster.
tpe: Mobilizing laity to help during a crisis doesn’t just
benefit Convoy of Hope — it also helps the local church. Why is that?
KINGSLAND: When local churches partner with us they become
the face of hope and help for their neighbors and community. That allows them
to serve their community with love, which in turn helps them make inroads with
people from every corner of their community. Disasters level the playing field,
and everyone in need is equal — in other words, everyone needs hope and
tpe: What goals do you have for this partnership?
KINGSLAND: One of our main disaster initiatives is H.O.P.E.
Begins Here (Helping Others Prepare for Emergencies). The goal is to help local
churches and districts be prepared for disasters so that they are more
resilient to the effects of a disaster, are able to bounce back quickly, and
are equipped to respond and can serve their communities in times of a disaster.
tpe: Assemblies of God people are some of the most generous
with their time and resources, but some of them might not know how they or
their church can get involved. What do you suggest?
KINGSLAND: One of the easiest ways for a church to get
involved is to contact COH about developing a “Go-Team,” which is a team from
their church that has the ability to quickly respond to a disaster in their own
community or in another community. These teams are usually on the ground with
us for several days until the residents can get back on their feet.
We are also looking for those who are amateur radio
operators or have an interest to become one. We have launched CARRS —
Convoy of Hope Amateur Radio Response Services. Having timely and accurate
information during a crisis is crucial to an effective response, and amateur
radio is a key component to our overall response plan.
We are also looking to raise up assessment teams who can
assist us in assessing damage in local disasters and relay information back to
our national command center following a disaster. This information will ensure
we are meeting and responding to the needs represented in the community in the
best way possible. Collaboration and coordination with people on the ground
makes us more effective in what we do and allows us to get the right resources
to where they are needed most, effectively meeting needs of survivors by
matching their needs to the right products, allowing for more people to be
There are many other opportunities for laypeople and
churches. Visit convoyofhope.org for more information.
tpe: You often say disasters are local. What does that mean
for a local church?
KINGSLAND: It’s great to have volunteers for disasters such
as Hurricane Katrina, but local communities need volunteers too. When a church
purposes to build inroads with their city’s emergency management leaders, they
become known in the community as an organization that can be trusted and as
people who are willing to serve locally. Amazing things can happen.
For example, if several units in an apartment complex burn
down and families are left homeless, officials will look to the church that has
established itself in the community as a partner in disaster relief. When the
church helps those families, that’s an excellent opportunity for the church to
serve their community unconditionally.
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