Baptist chainsaw crews share faith and clear limbs

Baptist disaster relief volunteers use chainsaws to cut and clear away broken limbs after an ice storm hit North Texas.

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DALLAS—When a devastating ice storm hit North Texas in December, Baptist disaster relief volunteers from Mississippi and New Mexico joined Texas Baptist Men chainsaw crews in clearing broken limbs from rooftops—and clearing the way for several people to come to faith in Christ.

chainsaw wayne turner400Wayne Turner from Hatch, N.M., led four people to faith in Jesus during cleanup efforts after a devastating ice storm hit North Texas in December.Volunteers completed about 200 jobs across several counties, said Ralph Rogers, TBM chainsaw project coordinator from Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo.

“That’s not counting some of the local guys who got their pole saws and started helping their neighbors even before we mobilized,” Rogers said.

The oldest volunteers included an 83-year-old couple from New Mexico, he noted.

“They weren’t climbing,” he said. “But it just goes to show there’s not any upper age limit for volunteers.”

One out-of-state chainsaw volunteer, Wayne Turner from Hatch, N.M., led four people to faith in Jesus.

“The first thing Wayne will do after he says ‘hello’ is witness to you,” Rogers observed.

Turner presented the Christian plan of salvation to two women while serving on a limb-cutting project in Garland. While he was working in an alley behind one resident’s house, a woman asked how much he would charge to cut down a tree in her yard across the street.

chainsaw ice tree400Heavy ice that coated branches was too much for many trees.“I told her we don’t do it for money. We do it because people need help,” he said.

As he talked to the woman, Esther, he learned she was divorced, and her daughter and granddaughter lived with her. She wept as she talked about her family’s troubled situation.

He sought to comfort her, and then he asked Esther if she knew where she would spend eternity. When she told him she did not have any confidence about her eternal destiny, she shared the New Testament plan of salvation with her, and she professed faith in Christ. He also gave her a Bible.

The next day, when a crew worked to cut down a dead tree in Esther’s backyard, a limb fell and damaged a trampoline. Although she insisted it did not matter, Turner and other volunteers spent an extra hour and half repairing it.

denton chainsaw 400Relief crews in Denton trim branches damaged by the ice storm.While the volunteers worked on the trampoline, Esther’s daughter returned home.

“Mama sure was different last night,” she told Turner.

When she asked what Turner told her mother to make such as difference, he presented the gospel to the young woman, and she also professed faith in Christ.

At the Dixon Missions Equipping Center in east Dallas, where out-of-town chainsaw crews bunked at night, Turner also led another mother and daughter to faith in Jesus.

Turner saw two women who worked for a janitorial service cleaning restrooms at the TBM building. When he approached them, he learned the older woman did not speak English, but her daughter did.

After inquiring about her family, he asked the younger woman if he could ask her an important question—where she would spend eternity. After presenting the gospel to her, the young woman also helped him explain the plan of salvation to her mother.

Both women accepted Christ as Savior, and Turner gave them Spanish-language Bibles. They, in turn, asked where they could find a Spanish-language church to attend.

“It’s wonderful what God can do,” Turner said. “That’s why I’m involved in disaster relief. I want to go tell people about Jesus. And in the meantime, if we can do a little chainsaw or mud-out work, that’s fine, too.”

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