Team from Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church of Hermann comes away from Joplin relief work "humbled"

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By Dr. Chris Neale

A team from Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church of Hermann recently spent four days aiding victims of the Joplin tornado.

Photo: (from left) Darrel Boyer, Nate Shoemaker, property owner Tracey Frye, Glenn Story, Tina McClurg, two volunteers from Texas, Leesa Boyer, Diane Shoemaker

“When I saw the early news reports from Joplin, I knew I had to go help and knew there were others who would want to join me,” said team leader Laura Neale. “I let folks know in church one Sunday morning and three weeks later we had a team of Christian servants with boots on the ground.”

Nine members of Emmanuel joined this first round of efforts: Laura Neale, Angie James, Tracey Frye, Tina McClurg, Glenn Story, Nate and Diane Shoemaker, and Darrel and Leesa Boyer.

The team spent their days working in the sun simply cleaning up storm debris. “The magnitude of the wreckage is hard to describe,” said Nate Shoemaker. “You get overwhelmed when you look around too far or too long. You just have to look at the lot you are working on and make a difference there.” Residents of Joplin are under time limits in which to clean up their property. Failure to do so results in the city performing the clean up and billing the owner. “Our clean up ranged from searching for specific personal possessions (a wedding ring and some Korean coins) to wrecking a building,” stated Neale. “Darrel Boyer is now famous in Joplin. He brought his own skid-steer and was able to bring down an entire wrecked house in one morning. He kept a loading crew busy all by himself.”

The clean-up team from Emmanuel felt a strong sense of God’s call to help those in Joplin. On this trip they worked with Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian organization devoted to a variety of disaster and social relief ministries. “In talking to some friends in Joplin, I became aware that it was very important to be connected with an organization there,” indicated Neale. “Without that kind of support, a team would waste a lot of time on organization and their own support. It’s also important for the officials in Joplin to know you are legit. Otherwise, clean up can look a lot like scavenging. Samaritan’s Purse gave us the direction and support we needed so we were doing real good for someone rather than just thrashing around.”

The church will be sending another group in July. Youth leaders Nate and Diane Shoemaker are finalizing plans for the trip. They will be taking a number of youth along with adult volunteers. “The needs in Joplin are tremendous. Joplin has received a large quantity of donated goods – in some cases more than they can use. We know that money continues to flow to that region and they need it. At the same time, we need to go there, too. The people of Joplin need physical help. They need emotional and spiritual help,” shared Diane.

“I came away humbled,” stated Tina McClurg. “I was impressed with the strength of the human spirit in Joplin. I heard lot’s of stories of how God was with them not only during the storm but during the recovery. You go down there thinking you will minister to someone else and find that you are the receiver.” Pastor Tom Rea shared his thoughts, “We believe strongly that God calls us to minister to his creation. I see that in the urgency and commitment of this team and in the others who are planning to help on future trips. I see that in the level of giving in our special offering collected for Joplin. The recovery process will go on a long time. We expect to continue our commitment into the future.”