By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MOUNT JULIET — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has been on site in Goshen Township, Ohio, assisting victims of an EF2 tornado which struck the area on July 6.
While only three people were injured in the tornado, more than 150 buildings were destroyed or damaged in some way, according to WCPO in Cincinnati.
An incident management team, led by John and Kaye Thomas of First Baptist Church, Sevierville, has been in place at Hill Station Baptist Church since July 13, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
In addition, a combined chain saw team from West Tennessee and Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, were on site the first week, along with assessors and chaplains. A chain saw/ bucket truck team from Knox County Baptist Association worked during the week of July 24-30. A couple from First Baptist Church, Sevierville, also served, said Kaye Thomas,
Thomas and her husband, John, who are members of First Baptist, Sevierville, have coordinated teams from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
Nearly 100 volunteers had served as of July 26, completing 78 chain saw and bucket truck jobs. Thomas said their group was needed primarily for tree and debris removal.
Originally, there were 111 job requests and Tennessee Baptist DR officials expected teams would be needed during the week of July 31, but Thomas was hopeful jobs would be completed by July 30. Heavy rain was expected last week but team members prayed the rain would hold off during the day so they could work and it had, at least early in the week, Thomas reported.
She noted God has been at work in the aftermath of the tornado. There were three professions of faith recorded, she noted.
Pastor Phil Hopper of Hill Station Baptist Church expressed his appreciation for Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief which headed up relief efforts in his area.
“The work has gone really well,” Hopper said. They are knocking the projects out.”
“Their work, however, is not what stands out,” he said. “With them, it’s not about the chain saws, it’s about the gospel.”
Hopper cited the camaraderie among team members. “They have fun while working hard and that is a witness in itself,” the pastor said. They not only tell people about Jesus, but they also show their love for Jesus as they relate to one another. “A lot of lost people don’t understand that,” he said.
The DR work was highlighted by two Cincinnati television stations, including Fox 19.
Homeowners Rick and Cindy Pringle told the Fox 19 reporter that the volunteers saved them $57,000 which is what they said they would have had to pay for the tree removal that the volunteers did at no cost. The couple lost 52 trees on their five acres.
“These people are amazing,” said Cindy Pringle. “It makes me want to give back.”
Karen Wilson, a volunteer from First Baptist Church, Dresden, was interviewed by the station. “Everyone of us is called to be here,” she said. “It is our pleasure and joy to help. This is just the beginning to help them clean up, heal and recover from the storm.”
Individuals interested in donating to disaster relief can visit https://tndisasterrelief.org/contributions/ and click on general disaster relief. B&R