Two days ago I volunteered to go down to Joplin, MO, to film a short interview with one of our district pastors whose church is located there. We were going to be in the area for district camps, so it seemed like a no-brainer. I wanted to help get the word out about what is happening three weeks later – in the aftermath of the tornado that wrecked havoc 6 miles long and about 1 mile wide. The church building itself made it through the tornado, but the pastor said that there were ten families in his congregation that lost everything.
That’s important to me. I want to see our district family connected with the restoration efforts. But there was another reason I wanted to go…
My two teenage daughters are with me on this trip and I knew that they had never seen anything like this firsthand. I remember how I was affected just a few short years ago when my wife and I led a team down to New Orleans after Katrina. It changed my life and the lives of those who went with me forever.
After I was done interviewing the pastor, we got directions to the destroyed area of town, got our cameras out, and went for a walk. I told the girls to put away their iPods and that we were going to do a prayer walk. I could visually see their countenances begin to change as we began to walk the neighborhoods of what used to be houses, cars, backyards with green grass, and trees… and now it looked like little more than a junkyard.
Families, friends of families, church groups, youth groups, and volunteers of every kind were at almost every house, still removing piles of debris from what used to be someone’s home. Huge trucks were going down the streets picking up the piles and taking them away. As we walked, you could see children’s toys, scattered clothes, twisted furniture, photos, and other personal items of every nature. Those things really made the reality of the whole thing sink in for all three of us.
Before we even left, my girls were asking about coming down to help. They were thinking of ways that they could make a difference. There’s nothing like seeing a huge need like that through Jesus’ eyes. You can’t help but be moved to action. Seems like a great opportunity to me for youth groups around the country to get involved.
Visit rebuildjoplin.org, a site that the city put together to help know and meet the needs in the city. It's a great place to start if you want to help.