GOODLETTSVILLE — Lyle Larson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, wasn’t exactly sure how the church could be of service in the wake of the deadly tornadoes that ripped through parts of Tennessee on Dec. 9.
But Larson was certain of this — the FBC staff and church members were willing to do whatever was necessary to help.
Over the next few days, FBC seized the opportunity in a wide variety of ways, ranging from providing financial support to supplying doghouses for displaced animals. FBC also hosted a DR team from Alabama on the church campus during the team’s week-long stay in Goodlettsville.
“They will be working during the day — cleaning up debris and sharing the gospel — and we (at FBC Goodlettsville) get to be a part of that by housing the volunteers,” Larson told the church in a video. “My prayer for us as a church is that we will respond well and do everything we can to be a great host for them in these days.”
FBC Goodlettsville is located just a few miles from the Nesbitt Lane trailer park, where three lives were lost during the violent storms. Several trailers were completely destroyed, and their owners were left with little more than a mangled pile of home goods and crushed appliances.
Noah Leighton, student pastor from FBC, served as the liaison between the church and the DR teams. Leighton also coordinated a series of relief and recovery projects that were done through the combined efforts of the church and Nashville Baptist Association.
“We are looking at this opportunity as something God has entrusted us with,” said Leighton. “So, whatever we can do to be a part of showing our community the love of Jesus, we are all in!”
While helping coordinate the various ministry opportunities, Leighton had a whirlwind three-day stretch.
It started on Dec. 12, when he went with a team of DR volunteers to survey damage at the trailer park.
“While we were there, we were able to meet and pray with some of the survivors,” said Leighton. “The first person I spoke with was a lady named Wanda, who lived right beside the family who lost loved ones in the tornado. We were able to ask what they needed, and I made a list. Then we immediately started making phone calls to see how we could meet those needs.”
Leighton said the first call he made was to the Nashville Baptist Association, where Michael Kelley serves as director of missions. Soon, the ball was rolling.
“They were kind enough to distribute funds for us to buy generators, heaters and many other supplies that would prove to be vital in getting the folks what they needed,” Leighton said.
Jimmy Edwards, a lay leader at FBC, played a key role in the process. He donated a generator to the trailer park residents, and also volunteered to pick up all the supplies that the residents had requested. “I can’t say enough about how important Jimmy was in this entire process of ministering to these folks,” Leighton said.
During one of his many trips to the park, Leighton said he noticed that several dogs were tied to trees, with no place to go. Leighton and Edwards responded to this need by purchasing several doghouses and delivering them to the park. The doghouses even came with attachable heating units.
Leighton also oversaw the distribution of food and water to the park residents. Leighton said that part of the ministry was made possible by a donation from Laymen Lessons.
“I am just so proud of our church, and the way our members responded,” said Leighton. “They have donated their time, energy, money and anything needed to ensure that the people in our community got the help they needed.
“I can’t tell you how many calls and text messages I received this week from our people asking how they can help,” said Leighton. “It’s been awesome to be a part of this.” B&R