HUNTSVILLE—In a city where Hurricane Ike left neighborhoods without electricity, two groups of Texas Baptist volunteers have energy to spare—and share.
Texas Baptist Men chainsaw teams from First Baptist Church in San Antonio and First Baptist Church in Athens are cutting up and removing large trees that have fallen on people’s homes or are blocking their driveways.
Hurricane Ike hit Huntsville, an East Texas town north of Houston, hard. Neighborhoods are marred by trees on rooftops, in yards, on fences and across driveways, confining people to their property.
The way these volunteers attack projects, the trees may be cleared quicker than anyone anticipates. In an hour or less, a team has cut up and removed a large tree.
Jimmy Leatherwood of First Baptist Church in Athens said the work is a natural outgrowth of his congregation’s character. It follows the biblical mandate to love people.
“It’s what the Bible tells us to do,” Leatherwood said. “We love to do it. The people need it. There’s a need. It makes us feel good, but we like to help people. That’s part of our church.”
The volunteer teams offer a powerful combination of tangible help and spiritual hope as they move through the area. Juan and Rosa Mejorado, who were physically unable to remove the large tree in their driveway, were driving around their home and around another in order to get off their property. When Texas Baptist Men offered to help, they jumped at the opportunity. After volunteers finished the project, the couple fought back tears of joy.
“God bless you,” Rosa Mejorado said. “God bless you all.”
Judy Vasil of First Baptist Church in San Antonio said people’s reactions to the chainsaw ministry keep her going.
“They’re just grateful,” she said. “This lady yesterday was almost in tears after clearing the trees. They’re just glad someone is there to help.”
The teams take time before, during and after a project to become acquainted with the people they’re helping. They finish each project praying with and for the family they assisted. The prayer is a way to further connect their faith with their actions.
“It’s our way of sharing what we’re doing for them, and we’re doing it in God’s name,” Leatherwood said. “One of the families we talked to earlier today didn’t go to church. It’s an opening to share with them. We invited them to come to this church here in Huntsville.”