Rebuilding after the tornado

Posted: September 18, 2012 by efenster in Stories

   The following article was submitted by Rev. Bob Vale, pastor of the Osceola UMC.  How have missions been a key aspect of your church’s ministry?  If you have a story to share, send to ed.fenstermacher@inumc.org. 

Greetings from what seems to be a distant land (Southern Indiana).  Fifteen souls from the Osceola UMC (North District) went to Henryville, Indiana, to serve our fellow man in need and become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. The small town of Henryville is about 20 miles north of the Kentucky line, just north of Louisville and directly off of interstate 65.  It is here where two powerful and violent tornados crossed paths above this tiny town and left destruction in its wake (March 2, 2012).  Nearly 300 homes across Clark County were destroyed or greatly damaged.  Many businesses were also devastated by the great storm. Not to mention several churches that were damaged or leveled.

 Last Sunday after church our 15 members of OUMC got into their personal vehicles and made the five hour trek down to Henryville to do what we could to help these hurting folks.  Our accommodations were better than expected, as there is a very beautiful conference center/Christian camp that is both housing and feeding us.    

Each morning we get up and eat breakfast with about 50 other servants from other churches, who have also come to lend a hand in the rebuilding process.  There are two other United Methodist Churches here this week.  One is the Ligonier UMC and the other is the Walnut Grove UMC out of Warsaw.  Once the breakfast meal is done, we begin the day by gathering tools needed from the tool shed.  During the week there are about four or five different homes we have been working on. 

Each of the homes we worked on looked about like a Habitat home; nothing fancy or huge, but big enough to raise a family, with two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Two of the homes we have worked in had us rebuilding a deck and placing sheetrock on all the walls.  Another home was painted inside and had the kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures installed.  One home we worked on was adding a very large wood deck and wheel chair ramp.  Our mission host leaders are two individuals who work for several relief agencies to organize our efforts.  One of them is supported by the United Methodist UMCOR.  I am thankful our funding goes here to support these types of ministries.

On Wednesday evening we had a change of pace as all 50 or so of the volunteers decided to attend an old country church that was destroyed from the tornado last March.  The church family and leadership of the Mt. Moriah Baptist church were hurting as they had lost their church building. As a side note, this is where the famous Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant grew up and went to church.  One other time many years ago, the Mt. Moriah church burned down and Col. Sanders paid to rebuild the church. 

The Wednesday evening service at the Mt. Moriah Baptist church included about 15 of their folks including the preacher.   I asked the pastor if we could circle around their small congregation and pray for them.   I also asked if we could take up a love offering to help them and to have it used in any way they needed. The Baptist pastor said yes to both.  Our prayer time ended with a blessing of singing the doxology.  The air was thick with the presence of the Holy Spirit and I saw many tears as we soaked in our time together.   

 Today is our last day of working for the week.  We have accomplished much, but know there is still a mountain worth of work yet to be done.  We find comfort knowing each week another team of 50 or more volunteers from across the country will come to Henryville to give of their time for a week until the job is done and their lives are normal again.   I want to thank the fifteen folks from our congregation who took time off work or out of their busy schedule to serve and become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. 

Interested in helping with the rebuilding in southern Indiana too?  Go to the Conference website for details. — Ed Fenstermacher

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