Hello from the beautiful Gulf Coast! We are sitting in a sa-weet condo with hearts full after spending the last couple of days visiting with some very special friends in Pensacola. I’ve gotten several emails asking how the recovery process is going here and so allow me to give you a quick update as well as brag on a specific church who has gone way above and beyond in serving our community.
First let me tell you why we are here. Very soon after the storms (our brains are fried so we can’t remember the point of first contact), the Lord sent two amazing people into our lives named Ray and Mary Ann McKnight. God placed a heavy burden for our people on these two and they championed an event in their own city to serve those who have lost so much in North Alabama. Ray and Mary Ann are members of Pine Summit Baptist and together with their congregation they planned an auction comprised of donated goods whose proceeds were 100% designated to our ministry center. Ray invited our family to be present for the weekend and Luke to speak Sunday morning to ‘put a face to the name’ so to speak for these people who have worked so hard on our behalf. We also had the joy of meeting the brand new pastor and his wife, Donny and Shay, who had only taken the church three short weeks before. After all the tallying was complete, this labor of love raised ALMOST $13,000 to aid our area in recovery. May the Lord be praised! Thank you Ray and Mary Ann. Thank you, Pine Summit. We are blessed to call you friends and co-laborers in the gospel.
So what happens to that money? About one month prior to the tornadoes, our church purchased a building located directly across the street that had once been a day care center. We felt like the purchase was ordained because on the day of auction, there were no other bidders and we bought the building at the opening price. We envisioned using it primarily as a youth facility with one of the large rooms dedicated to a food pantry. Little did we know those plans would soon change. The storms came and before the winds had scarce quit blowing provisions from generous people starting pouring in from the midwest all the way down to Florida. They came in car trunks, they came in tractor trailers. But however they came, they came ALOT. We first started unloading these things into our fellowship hall adn quickly realized that arrangement wasn’t going to cut it. I told Luke, “We’ve got to get the daycare building open and get this stuff over there.” That was all it took for our people to mobilize. Our fearless missions director, Judith, took the bull by the horns and along with the tireless efforts of many, many of our church members had the power and water cut on, the building cleaned, and shelving built all within three days. What was birthed in that time is now known as the “By His Hands” Ider Baptist Ministry Center. Only God.
With that said, this ministry has become a permanent entity of our church and community and is staffed by faithful volunteers of IBC. When donations are received they are earmarked for the ministry fund. Applications are taken from those in our community with many requests but most have to do with some form of home repair. Many are people recovering from storm damage but we do not hesitate to help the elderly or otherwise disadvantaged person who demonstrates a legitimate need for assistance. Each request is evaluated and if it is something our men can handle, they purchase the building materials and provide the labor free of charge. Some projects are too much for us. If it is not storm related we may hire individuals who can do the work. If the project is storm related, we refer it to the Long Term Recovery Committee for our county on which our church holds a seat. It is through this avenue that homes are being rebuilt, more complex repairs are organized, and work groups are assigned to specific families. It has been a great joy for our church to host many work groups in our parsonage and class room wing of the church when necessary. Again, where funding is an issue, we provide materials for these groups to complete their assigned projects. None of this would be possible without the generosity of individuals, churches, and many para-church and corporate entities who have given to the center.
I hesitate to talk about our own personal recovery but y’all are asking and I don’t want to be rude. We are great. The roof has been replaced, the porches rebuilt. I have a front door now and no more broken windows! The garage doors are in and operational and the sheet rock guys just finished inside. I made the executive decision to hold off on replacing the floors until after the first of the year because I’m just not emotionally stable enough to deal with that mess during the holidays. Since Luke is the one replacing the floors, he isn’t complaining one bit. There is some minor carpentry work to be finished inside and then some painting but for the most part we are almost back on track. We also have some major yard work to have done since we lost so many trees but that should be happening soon – hopefully in time to sow grass. Thank you so much for your prayers. I know you’ve been interceding for else or we would have lost our ever-loving minds by now.
I taught children’s church a few weeks ago and the lesson happened to be on generosity in giving. The verse for the day was, “A generous man will prosper . The one who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25) When I asked the kids what that meant, Ben (one of my favorite kids on this planet) yelled out, “A GENEROUS MAN WILL ALWAYS HAVE SNACKS!” I amen that interpretation and it will be my prayer for all those who have helped us in Christ’s Name. May your snacks be abundant. But I will also pray that God will return the relief you have provided upon you one hundredfold. You have no idea what it means to the people of Sand Mountain. No idea.
There are many ways in which a donation can be made to our area and in no way am I trying to suggest we are the only group doing a great work. But since I know you will ask because y’all are just sweet like that, I will provide the information. If you or your organization would like to make a monetary donation to our particular effort, those may be mailed to Ider Baptist Ministry Center, PO Box 278, Ider, AL 35981. If you have a work group who would like to participate in the rebuilding, please contact Sand Mountain Baptist Association at 256-451-3750.