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by Danny Conn, editor of the Coordinator, Florida's Newsletter for Free Will Baptists

ANOTHER STORM HAS SWEPT THROUGH THE THREE RIVERS AREA of Gulfport, Mississippi. This time it was a whirlwind of activity produced by more than forty Free Will Baptists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. The Master's Men Disaster Response Team and other volunteers accomplished significant clean up and repairs to the Gulf Coast FWB Church. Debris has been removed, carpet has been pulled up, wet sheetrock taken down, the roof has been closed in and covered--just in time; rain is forecasted for Friday.

Along with the repairs to the Gulfport church, volunteers also cut trees and cleaned yards for several families in the neighborhood. Church members have continued to organize and distribute donated goods to meet the needs of those in the community. The emergency needs have been met, but the sustaining and supporting work will continue for some time.

Above: Testimony in tragedy; the church sign offers
food and prayer to the devastated Gulfport community

The greatest need is continued manpower to clean up the neighborhood and repair the church building. There will be shingles to lay, sheetrock to hang, painting, carpeting, brickwork, plumbing, A/C work, and many other repairs to make on the building. The steeple also needs to be replaced since the spire broke off the base.
Contributions to the Disaster Relief fund are still encouraged. It will take immense resources to restore the communities of the Mississippi gulf coast. Free Will Baptists have a unique opportunity for ministry in these areas. Please continue to coordinate volunteer efforts through the state leaders of Mississippi and Master's Men in order to accomplish repairs more efficiently.
Other FWB relief efforts also report progress. Bro. Benny Hartley from North Carolina has accomplished tremendous ministry in Bay St. Louis, a town west of Gulfport that was even closer to the eye of the storm. His crew has made a significant impact on the people of that community. Along with serving three hot meals a day, they have fed souls and nourished spirits. Their relief work may be being taken over by a larger group, but the efforts of their labor have yielded eternal fruit.
MS Executive Secretary J.L. Gore has also coordinated aid to Pascagoula, MS, a coastal city east of Gulfport, which was also hard hit. The devastation extends over such a large area that it has been difficult to report the needs of some locations. Reconstruction is a daunting task, overwhelming in scope. FWB relief efforts cannot meet the needs of everyone, but we can be a neighbor to those we find along the way.

Above: (left) Volunteers clear debris in the Gulfport community; (right) The Master's Men Disaster Relief Unit sits in front of the Gulf Coast FWB Church

Above: (left) Volunteers remove damaged sheetrock inside the church; (right) Repairs begin on damaged church roof

Above: (left) Volunteers cover the repaired roof with tar paper; (right) Breaking for supper

Above: Church yard turned campground as more than 40 volunteers from across the Southeast set up camp for the night.

Above: (left) A break in the work for prayer; (right) The roof awaiting inspection and shingles.



©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists