Mineral Area rallies around DOM, family
Fire destroys home, all their belongings
By Allen Palmeri
July 26, 2005
FARMINGTON – Pastors in the Mineral Area Baptist Association are rallying around their new director of missions after a fire destroyed the rental house here where he and his wife were staying.
Larry Greenfield and his wife, Debbie, lost virtually all of their possessions in the July 8 electrical fire. Debbie has since suffered a stroke and is recovering in a Springfield hospital. The couple has been living in a borrowed motor home.
Greenfield’s official start date as DOM of the association’s 45 churches is Aug. 1.
“This has definitely welded him with the pastors in our association as they are the ones that are calling him, encouraging him, asking, ‘What can we do?’” said John Edwards, pastor, Potosi Southern Baptist Church, and chairman of the search committee that called Greenfield to Farmington.
Greenfield, who was pastor of Stockton Lake Community Church, moved the last of his belongings July 6. Two days later, he and Debbie left for Cape Girardeau to visit their daughter only to return that same day after receiving a call from another daughter, who was living in the upstairs of the rented house with her family, about the fire, which started between a surge protector and a wall outlet downstairs.
“One of the grandkids, 18 months old, was asleep right above where the fire was,” Edwards said. “The son-in-law went upstairs. The room was already filled with smoke, and before he got the child out, there were flames in the room around him. It’s a miracle that that child got out.”
Edwards and two other pastors from the association, Bill Holbrook of First Baptist Church, Park Hills, and Tim Blankenship of Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church, Farmington, stayed with the Greenfields that day and witnessed God working through their new DOM.
“Whether it was with the firemen or the fire marshal, he portrayed in front of them what it means to be a Christian,” Edwards said. “He’s lost everything, and they’re trying to be compassionate with him, and he was trying to share with them that this doesn’t shock God.”
The fire was on a Friday. That Sunday, Greenfield was scheduled to preach at First Baptist Church, Desloge. He was determined to keep that commitment.
“Here he is, without a suit to wear, without a tie,” Edwards said. “He goes to Wal-Mart and gets slacks and a shirt. It’s the first time he’s preached on a Sunday morning that he can remember without a suit and tie.”
Six days later, his wife suffered a stroke which left her temporarily paralyzed on her right side. She was taken to a hospital in Sikeston, where she regained all motor coordination, and was transferred to a Springfield hospital July 20 to continue her recovery. Edwards said her condition may in part be attributed to the loss of so many valuable items in the fire.
“This is hard to go through when you lose so many memories,” he said.
The Mineral Area churches responded quickly by taking up a love offering that has met all of the Greenfields’ immediate needs. An example of the generosity within the association was the $200 gift from Bethany Baptist Church, Pilot Knob. Bethany is a small congregation of about 30 people led by bivocational pastor Tim Smith.
Edwards said the Greenfields need clothing. The new DOM particularly needs suits, and anything that can be done to ease the pain of him losing his pastor’s library would be appreciated. The shelter of the motor home, which has been donated by a member of their former church, is appreciated, but temporary. They are in need of another rented home.
Missouri Baptists interested in helping to meet these needs should call the associational office at (573) 431-5140.
Through it all, key leaders in the Mineral Area association are more convinced than ever that they have their man. He is a strong conservative who is a good fit in one of the state’s more staunchly conservative areas, according to Jim McCullen, pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Belgrade, and a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board.
“He appeared to us to have a pastor’s heart,” McCullen said. “We were looking for more of a pastoral type of director of missions than an administrator. We put in the new manual that he is supposed to visit every church within two years, and he said, ‘I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t do it in a year.’ That’s refreshing.”