“All these people came out to support you tonight. Show this town, show that community and the world what you didn’t lose in the storm…perseverance, resiliency, hard work, dedication, teamwork…” Joplin High School head football coach Chris Shields used these words to urge his players on in the locker room prior to the Eagles’ first home game after the May 22 tornado. ESPN has produced a 20-minute documentary in its Outside the Lines series that tells the story of the Eagles and their resolute return to the gridiron barely three months after the storm changed their lives forever. Players and cheerleaders who lived through the tornado share their accounts of the disaster and its aftermath. They lost their school, some of them lost their homes, others lost friends, and one lost both his parents and his ability to play football. What they did not lose was their commitment to each other and their community and their determination to carry on with life no matter what. Watch it here: http://espn.go.com/video/category?id=3286128. It is powerful.
Meanwhile, Mission Joplin continues to operate at a steady, sometimes relentless pace. Two church groups drove down from Kansas City to volunteer this Saturday, which was good because one of the semi trailers used for storage needed to be tarped due to holes in the roof, and it took six of us all morning to get the job done. There’s always something to be done, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 and 3:00. Those are the days when volunteers are needed the most to assist shoppers, visit with them, listen to their stories, and share Jesus with them. Obviously, the majority of you work during those days, but if any of you do not work those days or can sacrifice a day off, your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
Many people have expressed to me their intentions to eventually help out in Joplin. One hundred forty-nine days have passed since the tornado, and as far as I know, those people still haven’t found the time. They probably never will find it. They will need to make it. The needs still exist. They are evolving somewhat as actual rebuilding efforts gain steam, but they have not gone away. They won’t for at least another 149 days, but a few hours of your time on a single day could change your life and that of a tornado victim.
Someone accepts Christ at Mission Joplin seemingly every week. All go “home” (whatever that means now) with the understanding that God’s people are the ones to turn to when they have physical needs. I continue to be amazed by the simplicity of some of these needs. One middle-aged woman proudly showed her husband a coffee pot she had found as I helped load their truck. Later, from across the room, I watched as another woman could barely contain her joy when a volunteer handed her a boxed frying pan. Last week, a tornado victim who had read this very blog and is preparing to move into a new house called Ryan Martin at UBC asking if we knew where she could find some bunk beds and mattresses. We referred her to Mission Joplin for the mattresses and have appealed to the UBC church body for the bunk beds. Contact Ryan Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) to assist.
If you happen to be someone who has been waiting to volunteer in Joplin because you have a specific skill you are hoping to use, send Ryan an e-mail, and we will do our best to find out when, where, and how you might be needed. Consider Mission Joplin anyway, though, and watch the Outside the Lines episode. As I said before, it’s powerful.
Written by Jonathan VerHoeven