Van Buren, Mo. | A “once-in-a-millennium” rainfall caused severe flooding in Missouri in late April and early May, washing out roads, pushing residents from their homes, and leaving First Baptist Church in Van Buren with water up to its roofline.
But the church, which sits near the Current River, planned to meet in the shell of its new building still under construction on the Sunday following the flood, according to a report by Missouri’s Pathway newspaper.
“This is our chance for the church to be the church,” said Pastor Ron Robinson. “This building is just a building, but we need to be God’s hands and feet for the people who lost 150 homes in the community.”
Although not as severely, heavy spring rains also affected communities in Illinois. IBSA Disaster Relief teams responded to needs in Franklin and Williamson Counties in the southern part of the state, assisting more than 40 families and working into mid-May, said Dwayne Doyle, IBSA’s director of men’s ministry and missions.
The flood recovery projects all focused on “mud-out,” or the process of cleaning up homes to prevent further damage and to help families get back on their feet.
Sonny McKenzie, a Disaster Relief chaplain from Third Baptist Church in Marion, worked with volunteers in southern Illinois at the home of a 17-year-old young man. As the team removed damaged drywall, carpeting, and tile, fellow chaplain Marilyn Thompson led the young man to the Lord. Another man accepted Christ when two Disaster Relief assessors, Emil and Lois Nattier, visited his Johnson City home to see how the volunteers could help.
“We’re blessed that most of our teams have at least two or three chaplains,” McKenzie said. The chaplains are able to go door-to-door, explaining what the volunteers are doing, visiting with homeowners, and offering support in what is often a very difficult time.
Doyle expected the volunteers’ work in Illinois to be completed by May 17, but “Missouri is a much different story,” he said. Volunteers there expect to work through Memorial Day weekend at six locations across the state. Teams from East St. Louis, the Heartland Baptist Network, and First Baptist Church of Sullivan served in Eureka, Mo., following the flooding, and Doyle said more volunteers are needed.
“The need is still great in Missouri and we need volunteers who can serve to connect with a team that is going.” A schedule of teams planning to travel to the area are available at IBSA.org/DR.
The next IBSA Disaster Relief training is October 13-14 at Lake Sallateeska Baptist Camp in Pinckneyville. For more information about the training or Illinois Disaster Relief, go to IBSA.org/DR or call (217) 391-3126.