Dean Kiser first volunteered with disaster relief in June 1992. His first assignment with an Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief team came after Hurricane Andrew struck the Gulf Coast in August that year.
Following years of service in various disaster relief leadership roles, he now serves as chairman of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) Feeding Committee, which provides oversight for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding operations.
Some of the disasters he's served after include the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, multiple hurricanes, a tsunami and numerous disasters -- too many to list -- to hit Oklahoma and other states.
Christina Kiser is thankful for her husband's dedication to disaster relief and his ability to lead volunteer efforts that minister to those in need.
Now, as a retired educator, Kiser has found a way to use her own talents to help those in need as well and educate children about the value of showing kindness to others.
Kiser has published a book, "Cora's Way -- A Story of Kindness," in which the title character -- a Rhode Island Red hen named Cora -- mirrors the actions of disaster relief volunteers by helping others in the flock. The book is illustrated by Amanda G. Breeden, daughter of Larry Breeden, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Arcadia. The Kisers are members of the church.
Through Tate Publishing, Kiser has produced 150 copies of the softcover book, priced at $10 each. Sales of the book will benefit disaster relief through the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
"We're going to give all of the proceeds to disaster relief," Kiser said. "This is my opportunity to give a little, because I don't go out on disaster relief with Dean. I think everybody has a mission, a gift. Dean's is organization, and he uses that very well in disaster relief. All I can do is write, so since that is what I can do, I hope this helps somebody else be blessed."
Kiser had written dozens of the Cora stories during her 30-year career with the Oklahoma City Public Schools. In that role she served as curriculum coordinator and consultant before moving on as an elementary school principal for 17 years. This is the first one of her Cora stories that has been illustrated and published.
"The book is Amanda's initial professional debut as an illustrator," Kiser said. "I felt really blessed that she would take the time out of her busy schedule to do this, because she spent hours watching and taking photos of the birds to make sure she was doing it correctly. Just to see a young person interested in doing something for the Lord very visibly and very intently was cool."
Cora's Way has a theme verse of Prov. 11:25, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
The dedication page reads: "This story is dedicated to the men and women who volunteer for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Teams. Their sacrifice of time and service brings encouragement and hope to individuals who need practical demonstrations of God's love. They will tell you that it is their privilege to serve the Lord by helping others."
Kiser said, "I was inspired to write it because many disaster relief volunteers take Prov. 11:25 to heart. We're trying to teach children that kindness becomes a habit; it's something that you do for others, but you also internalize it, and you find yourself enjoying being kind to others. I was trying to think of a way to show that.
"... If children are exposed to stories and deeds of sacrificial giving as they grow up, it is more probable that they will choose to do the same kinds of things as adults. The story of Cora can be a springboard for discussion about disaster relief, mission trips and other kinds of service."
The Kisers have raised show chickens for years and reside on the same plot of land that Christina's family has owned since 1889.
Cora is named for Kiser's great-grandmother. Throughout the book, Cora helps other members of the flock find food, watches over baby chicks for another hen named Jane and even helps Rocky the rooster keep cool in the hot sun by shaking water off of her feathers onto him.
"There are some analogies between what disaster relief volunteers do and what Cora did in the story as far as giving parents time to go do things they need to do after a disaster -- we have child care available -- making sure that everyone is well fed and making sure that persons have the things that they absolutely need after a disaster," Kiser said.
"This is an opportunity to be of service, and I feel like the Lord was pushing me to do something. You can only sit back and watch so long."
The book is available at Amazon.com or by calling Kiser at 405-760-9698.
Bob Nigh is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger, the newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The Messenger first ran this story in its March 20 issue. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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