Yates prepares to lead Baptist disaster relief ministry
Hubert Yates got involved with the Philadelphia Fire Department as a volunteer in 1978 when he was 19 and eventually fires and disasters turned into a career and a call to the ministry, including a defining F-4 tornado nearly six years ago.
A Philadelphia native, Yates begins a new ministry on Jan. 3 as State Director of Disaster Relief Ministries for Mississippi Baptists.
He will be working with the 2,100-plus churches, 62 associations and 3,000-plus volunteers of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief as he plans, trains, and responds to and assists those affected by disasters.
“Our ministry is to bring help, hope, and healing in Jesus’ name to those hurting from natural and man caused disasters,” he said in a recent announcement on his Facebook page.
Yates rose to captain as a full-time PFD firefighter, then went to Ridgeland as a training officer and on to the Mississippi State Fire Academy for 11 years and most recently pastor of Wess Chapel Baptist Church in Louisville.
Yates, 61, grew up watching his pharmacist father serve as a volunteer firefighter, a position he held for over 40 years. And in doing so his father Cecil raised a family of firefighters, including a daughter, Barbara.
“I got involved with the Philadelphia Fire Department in 1978, and it turned into a life career,” Yates said.
As he was introduced to firefighting, it was around that time that he received the call to ministry.
Yates served on staff at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Jackson and ended up moving back to Philadelphia in 1997 to serve as pastor of Bond Baptist Church.
After Yates served as a firefighter and a pastor, he started questioning all of the things God had put in his life up to that point and how everything had come together.
Since he had spent over 20 years of his life in the fire service, he had all these experiences with firefighting and emergency management and was unsure where to put those skills to use.
“It was a very hard question I was asking God in January of 2014,” he said. “I got my answer around four months later after an F-4 tornado hit Louisville, Mississippi, where I was a pastor at the time.”
Yates spent the next three years helping rebuild homes, and worked over 115 repair jobs with a lot of faith-based groups. It was then that he got into disaster relief.
He worked with the Samaritan's Purse, and returned to the ministry in 2017.
In the spring of this year, he was asked to serve by his convention leadership as interim.
“We’ve served all the way through 2020, including the early flooding, the hurricanes in the fall, and COVID,” he said. “God continues to open those doors for us to help others.”
Yates’ current plans include looking into connecting the local churches into the process, since not all disasters are large enough to warrant the response of national organizations.
“Even a small house fire is a disaster for the family and needs ministry response,” he said. “We’ll try to get more individuals from all different sizes of churches involved.”
Yates feels that if 2020 is any indication of what 2021 will be like, the Baptist Convention is going to be very active as disasters happen. He said they are training, have equipment readiness and preparedness, and they’ll be speaking at different churches in support of disaster relief. Forthcoming plans will be announced.
Yates’ with his wife of 36 years is Tracey and they have two children. His daughter Hannah currently works as a practice manager for both Mississippi Eye Associates and Oxford Dermatology, and his son Andrew is part of the Legislative Liaison in the Office of Lt. Gov. Delbert Hoseman. She and her husband Rush are expecting a daughter in mid-January.
Hubert and Tracey will be moving to metropolitan Jackson to assume the new role.
“To our Wess Chapel Baptist Church and Grace Christian School families we love and appreciate you,” Yates said in his Facebook post.
“You have been used of God to shape and mold our lives preparing us for this day. There are no words to express our love for you.
“To our Emmanuel Baptist Church (Pearl), Bond Baptist Church (Philadelphia), Macedonia Baptist Church (Louisville), and Samaritans Purse families, you too have been used by God over the last 30 years to equip us for the coming days.”
He closed by saying, “To all of our friends, we seek your prayers for us as we follow the Lord’s leading and direction. We look forward to restoring ‘old friendships’ with some as well as opportunities for new ones. Our hope is that Jesus would be glorified and that all the praise would go to Him!”