Baptist workers come to aid of people in crisis
Spiritual help part of the package when calamity strikes
NEOSHO – Shelli Doty had run into a crisis. The fierce winter storm that left most of Southwest Missouri powerless had become a reality for the Neosho resident. The ice had damaged nearby power lines, causing her home to lose electricity for several days. Without heat or sources to cook food, the Dotys would have sought shelter in another place, but large of amounts of broken limbs had crashed down and formed a barricade to the road. Unable to leave her house or allow anyone to come in, Doty was forced to close down the daycare she runs out of her home until help arrived.
Help came in the form of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief team. One of the four teams that assembled at Calvary Baptist Church, Neosho, arrived at the Doty’s home at 9:00 a.m. Jerry Hensley, First Baptist Church of Diamond, led the group that consisted of two chain saw operators and several pullers (workers that drag brush). The team worked at cutting the branches into movable pieces and clearing them from the path.
“We have been clearing limbs so she can get out of her driveway to the street,” Hensley said. The crew worked diligently for the next three hours, allowing their perseverance to witness to the surrounding neighborhood.
For Scott Tucker, a Disaster Relief volunteer and superintendent of the Neosho Golf Course, serving God through the cleanup crew was the best use of his time.
“I called in to work today and said I wasn’t coming,” he said. “The golf course just wasn’t a priority.”
Tucker has been starting his days at 6 a.m. and serving breakfast at the shelter set up at Calvary Baptist Church in Neosho. The rest of his days are spent working with the chain saw crew.
“I’ve been at the shelter and running with the chain saw crew all week trying to get people into their homes,” Tucker said.
Tucker’s heart for service is echoed in his fellow workers. Debbie Kruse, a volunteer from Northside Baptist Church, Neosho, was reminded of the reason so many volunteers are able to help. “The number one question you will be asked [when you are working at a home] is ‘What is it going to cost,’” Kruse said. “We are supposed to tell them it has already been paid by Jesus’ blood.”
While the outward goal of the Disaster Relief team is to provide physical help to those victims of tragedy, the crew seized any opportunity to provide spiritual help. The crew ended their morning by inviting Shelli Doty and her family outside to spend a few minutes with them. The chain saw team presented the family with a Bible that each of the workers had signed. Then they grabbed the family by the hands, formed a circle, and prayed for them.
Doty was appreciative of the service the crew provided. “I think they are absolutely wonderful!” Doty said. “They got right to work and got a lot done; I am really impressed with them.” After Doty and her family had received the crew’s assistance, she reflected, “We were blessed!”
Though the team had successfully helped this family, their day was far from finished. The crew anticipated it would clear brush from at least four more homes before nightfall. “I’d like to get to 200 or 300 [homes], but we can’t get to it,” Hensley said. “We’ll get to four or five today, and with four teams working today we’ll get 20 yards a day.”
The Disaster Relief team has a waiting list of 180 homes in the Neosho area that are in need of assistance and the number continues to climb everyday. The homes are prioritized according to need and teams are being assembled, but cleanup efforts are anticipated to last for several more weeks.
As each group continues to lend a hand to spread the love of Christ in practical ways, their motivation stays the same. “Jesus,” Hensley said. “There is no other reason.”