Wilderness Ministries, a Riverside-based non-profit organization, will host an upcoming meeting for all area pastors focusing on disaster preparedness.

The meeting will be held Monday evening at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Café in Riverside, and will feature several speakers, all focusing on various areas of dealing with and preparing for disasters.

Carl Hernandez, founder and chief minister of Wilderness Ministries, will deliver a brief message entitled “The Coming Storm and Saving the Harvest.” Professionals in all areas of community service from Riverside, Trinity and Huntsville will also address all guests.

Hernandez emphasized that the meeting was closed to the public, but all area pastors of all denominations are encouraged to attend so that they may share the information with their congregations.

Hernandez, a Houston native who founded Wilderness Ministries in 1992, believes that this meeting is essential to ensure that future disasters can be dealt with by the community.

“Everyone is aware of what happened when Katrina and Rita hit a few years ago,” Hernandez said. “A lot of people weren’t ready for that, and we don’t want that to happen again.”

The meeting will focus on encouraging local pastors to set up disaster response plans and inform residents of how they can be prepared. Free material on the ministry, as well as disaster preparedness information, will be available to all attending.

“We want everyone to get involved,” Hernandez said. “We’ll be encouraging pastors to develop plans, to take CPR and first aid classes, and just learn to be prepared. What we can do now is make preparations so we’re not caught off guard.”

Hernandez founded Wilderness Ministries in 1992 after recovering from a personal crisis. He said the name of his organization relates to how he came to realize his calling.

“A wilderness is a dry, desolate place,” Hernandez said. “That’s where I was in my life. I was heartbroken, I was unhappy, I was almost suicidal, but God gave me a calling. I ran from it for a long time, but God has ways of getting to you. Now, I just want to serve my creator.”

The ministry began in Missouri, but after meeting his wife, Becky, Hernandez moved to Texas to start a new marriage and continue his ministry.

After instituting similar programs with some success in Missouri, Hernandez hopes he can bring the same awareness to Walker County.

“The whole point of this is to learn to serve our community better,” he said. “We want to inform people and get the entire community to work together to prevent the massive disasters we’ve suffered in the past.”