News this week focuses on the many churches, parachurch ministries, and families affected by the tornado that struck Joplin, MO, on Sunday. Victor Knowles, president of Joplin-based Peace on Earth Ministries, shares the good news that all 37 Christian church/church of Christ parachurch organizations in Joplin came through the storm without significant damage to their buildings. However, a number of staff from these ministries did lose their homes.
And one of the many people killed in the storms was Natalia Puebla, a freshman at Ozark Christian College from Carthage, MO.
Doug Welch, a professor at OCC, shared yesterday, “I still had a stack of papers to grade when the tornado hit. Today I looked on the top of the stack and there was Natalia’s paper about the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a good paper, deserving of an A, but she knows this truth far better now. Please keep her family in your prayers.”
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Here is the latest information about the relief and recovery efforts currently being organized by various ministries; please visit their websites to learn more.
· International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES)
As always, IDES is serving as a hub for financial assistance and the latest news. Its website includes a list of Joplin-area churches and ministries with property damage plus information on volunteer coordination and food distribution (click here).
IDES writes, “The Christian Church of Carl Junction is working with AIM (American International Ministries) to set up a distribution point for relief supplies a few blocks away from the Blendville Christian Church. IDES is helping to cover the transportation costs for a donated shipment of bottled water, juices, and ready-to-eat foods that will be distributed to people in need. IDES is coordinating teams of volunteers who are able to assist with emergency repairs to damaged homes. At this point we do not have a definite location to house relief teams from outside the area, but are exploring the possibility with two area churches.”
One hundred percent of donations to IDES will be used for storm victims; click here to give online or send your check (designated “U.S. Disasters”) to IDES (U.S. Disasters), P.O. Box 60, Kempton, IN 46049.
· College Heights Christian Church
More than 50 CHCC families have lost their homes, and the church is rallying to provide shelter, food, supplies, and help with cleaning and organization. The church asks that financial gifts be sent to IDES and that financial donations are the greatest need at this time. College Heights reports it has reached full capacity for now on donations of clothes and most goods.
“Today [Tuesday] had great volunteers and great tenderness with those picking up supplies,” wrote Randy Gariss, preaching minister at the church. “Can’t tell you how many volunteers I saw crying with the ‘guests.’ It looked like the church of Jesus.”
College Heights’s website includes more detailed instructions for groups or organizations wishing to volunteer; click here for more information.
The Joplin Globe created a short video showing the extent of donations already collected at College Heights; click here to watch.
· Christ’s Church of Oronogo
CCO, located about 10 miles from Joplin, is also coordinating relief efforts. Churches around the country are filling trailers and heading to CCO with donations of clothing, food, and more.
The church’s website includes a list of the most urgently needed items, a link for online donations, and detailed information for volunteers willing to drive into the fringes of the disaster area to deliver supplies.
· Ozark Christian College
Meredith Williams, director of alumni, publications, conventions, and media, is posting the latest updates from OCC on Facebook.
President Matt Proctor writes, “The campus was not in the path of the tornado, and we are grateful that students had already left for the summer. All of our personnel who live on campus are safe, as are all of our employees and their families.
“Several employee families have lost their houses, as have some of our off-campus students. We are currently available to house any OCC students, personnel, and families who are displaced. Missouri Southern State University is working with the Red Cross to house other displaced persons.
“We are also working with the Community Emergency Response Team as they concentrate on search and rescue at present. Our Multi-Purpose Building is being used as the headquarters for the Red Cross distributionefforts, as well as housing a FEMA response team.”
Ozark has asked that financial donations for community relief be directed to IDES. Financial gifts to help displaced OCC personnel can be sent to OCC, 1111 N. Main St., Joplin, MO 64801. Please designate your check “Faculty/Staff Barnabas Fund.”
The school also asks that gifts of supplies and questions about volunteering be directed to College Heights, and that professional volunteers (medical, EMT, firefighters, etc.) contact the Red Cross at Missouri Southern State University.
As of Tuesday evening, Ozark reported the following churches are offering to house volunteer workers:
· Hornet Christian Church (417-624-6629)
Finally, the emergency management director for Joplin and Jasper County is Keith Stammer, an OCC grad. Please pray for him and his team during this difficult time.
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