This post is a call for volunteers to go work at Mission Joplin on Saturday, August 13. If you do not yet know what Mission Joplin is, scroll down the page to the two previous posts, and you can read all about this awesome ministry. We will meet in the upper parking lot by the COD at 7:30 a.m. and plan to return anytime after 4:00 p.m., depending on the heat and whether or not individuals want to eat supper in Joplin before coming home. Come prepared to drive your own vehicle, but we will carpool. Bring money for lunch and dinner. If you can come, send me an e-mail at email@example.com and CC Ryan Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will need to let Mission Joplin know how many people are coming.
Meanwhile, I saw the tornado damage in a new light Saturday night…literally. After eating dinner downtown with a friend of mine from Joplin, we did what many residents cannot bring themselves to do. We drove through the damaged area after dark. We weren’t being daring; we just needed to take 20th Street east to our next destination on Range Line. My friend commented that it would be “creepy,” but it was more than creepy. The scene was downright ghostly. The sun had already set, but the sky still showed some light blue tones, and other than that, the headlights and traffic lights provided the only illumination. Not a soul stirred in the now-uninhabited area. My first glimpse of the broken high school actually startled me just a bit. The Hampshire Terrace apartments still squatted miserably where the tornado ripped off most of their second-floor units on May 22. The denuded trees cut spectral, angular outlines against the sky, and the shattered trees that are actually leafing out again appeared as weird, bushy shadows. Of course, the most notable aspect of the sight was the general lack of trees where there had once been thousands. I’ve often thought that the area resembles a World War I battlefield, but last night, the comparison seemed even more apt.
In a sense, it has been a battlefield for the last 78 days since a fluky entanglement of warm and cool breezes descended to the surface and spun into a 200-mile-per-hour whirlwind that killed 159 of Joplin’s residents, destroyed the homes of some 15,000 more, and changed the lives of the rest forever. You cannot fight back against a tornado, but you can fight against its effects. From the immediate struggle to survive and to rescue the injured, the battle has moved to cleanup and to recovery. Eventually it will become a battle to rebuild. All the while, Joplin’s churches have fought by rallying together to serve the needs of each other and their neighbors, even in the midst of mourning their own losses. They have worked steadily to represent Jesus in their community, telling how this is not what the world was meant to be, and that Jesus provides the only hope for any of us.
Please consider assisting these fellow believers, particularly the ones at Mission Joplin. They can use your help any day of the week, not just Saturday, August 13. Take the initiative and go to missionjoplin.tv to learn more.
Written by Jonathan VerHoeven