By Sarah Schafer
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod approved a $7,000 grant Feb. 15 to aid volunteers removing trees from houses and property and to provide tarps for damaged roofs in Hattiesburg, Miss., following a tornado that struck the city Feb. 10.
Several people from St. John Lutheran Church in Hattiesburg sustained minor injuries and damage to their property.
LCMS Southern District Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Ed Brashier of Shepherd’s Heart Ministries arrived in Hattiesburg Feb. 12 and reported that “miles of damaged trees have fallen on homes, garages, streets and yards.”
One week after the tornado, LCMS Disaster Response Director Rev. Glenn F. Merritt said utility crews were still working to restore power to homes and businesses.
Working with St. John Lutheran Church, Brashier will coordinate volunteers and lead teams into disaster areas through mid-March. He will focus on helping low-income, uninsured and under-insured families “bear the financial burden” of the recovery efforts, he said.
Volunteers also will share Christ’s love and offer spiritual counsel to those who are receptive.
The work these volunteers do has “very measurable outcomes,” Brashier said. “The number of lives touched, the number of volunteer hours worked, the number of trees removed from homes, garages and yards — these can all be measured. What cannot be measured is the value of Lutheran Christian teams, providing an extremely valuable service to people who are hurting, and in most cases, cannot believe that the ministry is truly free. The opportunities that are opened for our teams to pray, share and care about the affected communities are, without doubt, only measurable inside the gates of heaven.”
Especially needed are patch and tarp crews, as well as those experienced in working with chain saws.
Interested volunteers may contact Brashier at 205-296-3714 or firstname.lastname@example.org. St. John Lutheran Church is offering meals and lodging, although volunteers should bring their own air mattresses or other sleeping gear.
LCMS Disaster Response staff will remain in contact with leaders of the LCMS Southern District and St. John Lutheran Church and continue to offer material, financial help and volunteers, as needed.
“Thank you for your concern and please continue to keep the people of Hattiesburg, the emergency responders and all those involved in the recovery process in your prayers,” Merritt said.
To support those affected by the tornado or other natural disasters or man-made calamities:
- Make an online gift at www.lcms.org/givenow/disaster.
- Mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief”) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438 (8:10 a.m. to 4:10 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday).
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted Feb. 18, 2013 / Updated May 16, 2013