By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A year ago this month, one of the worst tornadoes in American history left many Joplin residents homeless, but not helpless, thanks to an unending stream of donations and volunteers, such as those connected with Nazarene churches.
The latest effort, spearheaded by the Joplin District Church of the Nazarene in Carthage, which has jurisdiction over 77 congregations in Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas, has come in the form of three new Joplin homes.
A request was made last year by the district office to the denomination’s national headquarters in Lenexa, Kan., for funds to build the three homes. The $220,000 raised has gone toward three lots on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Foundation work has begun and will be completed before the first volunteers arrive on June 11 to start the building process. With as many as 20 volunteers working per house per day, work will continue throughout June until the homes are finished. Larry Lane, a member of the Neosho Nazarene Church, is volunteering his services as general contractor.
Time is running short on applications, which the district office will continue to take through Friday, giving special emphasis to those who did not receive help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or were underinsured when the tornado hit.
Ally Barnes, project director, said that the three families chosen will be contacted by May 18. The application form can be obtained at www.joplindistrictnazarene.org. Credit checks, drug screenings and background checks will be completed on each person living in the homes.
Jay Dick, pastor of the only other Nazarene congregation in Joplin, said his church, First Church of the Nazarene, will be available for volunteers working on the homes.
Shortly after the tornado last year, Nazarenes from the area and around the nation pitched in to help with recovery. The district sent out an email for volunteers to help with clean-up, making plans for 250 to 300 helpers. However, nearly 1,000 showed up.
“These volunteers were children, teenagers, college students, adults, entire families and grandparents,” Barnes said. “There was something for everyone to do to help out. Volunteers consisted of Nazarenes, Baptists, Presbyterians, Mennonites, Assembly of God, Catholics, Methodists, Boy Scouts and non-denominational church groups.”
Anyone needing more information or wanting to volunteer may call Barnes at 417-793-3708 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The houses are part of the Nazarenes’ Work and Witness program, which is focused on Christian projects and missions in which building or rebuilding is emphasized and, at the same time, witnessing by sharing the word of God.
In conjunction with the construction, the Nazarenes will also hold a youth sports camp for children 8 to 12 years old and vacation Bible school July 8-14.
The camp will offer football and baseball from 9 a.m. to noon each day at the Joplin Sports Complex and volleyball and basketball from 1 to 4 p.m. at a site to be determined later.
Vacation Bible school will be held from 3 to 5:15 p.m. the same days at Joplin Calvary Church of the Nazarene, 2802 Connecticut Ave., with the theme of Babylon incorporating stories, crafts and songs. Jade Rogers, pastor at Calvary, said he expects between 150 and 200 children to participate.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.