JOPLIN –Though most were unable to take part in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s” popular “Move that bus” chant, Missouri Baptist volunteers didn’t mind.
“It was very much a ‘behind the scenes’ ministry,” said Steven Strauch, director of missions for Lawrence County Baptist Association. “We prepared the meal we were assigned to prepare and we cleaned up
afterward. We didn’t even see the people who were eating it. It was definitely a servant-based ministry.”
The reality show’s cast and crew, as well as approximately 10,000 builders and volunteers, came to Joplin in mid- October to complete one of the largest projects the show has ever committed to. Together they built seven houses in seven days for families who have been displaced since May 22, when a massive tornado demolished a third of the city (estimated 2,000 buildings) and killed 162 people.
“This is what we do,” said Diane Korman, senior producer for “Extreme Makeover,” in an interview with Associated Press. “We look for families in trouble and vow to help them.”
The ambitious undertaking also required preparing and serving more than 30,000 meals for those involved in the building process. That’s where Missouri Baptists stepped in.
“Since Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield had helped with meals for an earlier show near Springfield, they were contacted to help coordinate the feeding effort,” said Steve Patterson, director of missions for Spring River Baptist Association. “Originally they were going to cook all of the meals in Springfield and then drive them here for each of the five mealtimes around the clock. Our Spring River churches were
enlisted to serve the meals, which we quickly organized. Then I suggested that we contact Tommy Blair at Shoal Creek Baptist Association about setting up their disaster relief feeding unit to cook onsite.”
Using Shoal Creek’s mass care feeding unit, Missouri Baptists provided as many as 850 meals four times a day for each of the seven days.
“We were based on the parking lot of the St. John’s hospital that was destroyed and we cooked onsite, placed the meals in food storage containers and took them a block or so away to the chosen building sites,” said Deborah Childers, secretary and “Extreme Makeover” contact for Spring River.
Volunteers from six southwest Missouri Baptist associations partnered together to feed approximately 10,000 builders, tradesmen and volunteers. Working alongside Spring River and Shoal Creek were Greene County Baptist Association, Barry County Baptist Association, Ozark Prairie Baptist Association and Lawrence County.
“Missouri Baptist Convention churches were very deeply involved in this effort,” said Patterson. “They were servants of the Lord and we were thankful to have them.”
The Joplin project will be the show’s landmark 200th episode and is tentatively scheduled to air Jan. 20.
KAYLA RINKER/contributing writer