by Glenda Williams, BNc correspondent

JOPLIN, Mo. (BNc) — Richard Chambers, preacher for the Joplin, MO church of Christ, located at 26th and Connecticut Ave., was out distributing hotdogs, bottled water, and food items recently when someone came by and asked, “Do you have water?” He gave them water and food to go with it! They alerted others behind them who also came for water.

This scene has been replayed countless times in the city of Joplin, Missouri. It will take a long time for the city to recover from the deadly tornado that ripped through the area on Sunday evening, May 22, right before the 6:00 p.m. worship service. Ten people were in the church building when the tornado struck. Latest death toll for the city of Joplin is a staggering 126.

Deacon Bill Anderson and his wife Sarah, along with their son, Quinton, a junior in high school, were in their house when the tornado hit. Bill and Sarah were killed and Quinton was presumed dead by local authorities. A daughter, Grace, was not at home and was safe. The tragedy was almost unbearable for those who knew and loved the Anderson family, but a surprising thing happened on Wednesday, May 25. Grace received a telephone call from Quinton’s cell phone. A nurse on the other end in a Springfield, MO hospital, an hour away, said, “Your brother is just out of surgery and wants to know if you’re all right.” Though Quinton has multiple injuries and a lengthy recuperation ahead of him, he is expected to recover.

It is estimated that 30% of homes in Joplin were affected. The local hospital, several residential areas, and businesses were in the destructive path of the tornado. Richard Chambers states, “You couldn’t pick a worse path for a tornado to strike.” Amy Chambers, wife of Richard, said about seven members’ homes were totally destroyed and other church members had damage to their homes.

The Joplin church of Christ lost their church library when the roof was lifted and rested under part of a member’s car at the back of the parking lot. Books were soaked completely with the continuing rain during the night. “We’re just going to start over with a new library,” church Secretary Kristy Hoggart said.

Chambers said volunteers are coming to do anything they can to help, and there is plenty to do. Some houses have only the roof missing, where others are flattened. He said anything that can be given is appreciated, stating they are distributing items to the community and trying to help people any way possible. For those who want to load trucks and bring them, “We’ll take them,” Chambers said, then added, “If people want to donate funds, we have stores that are staying stocked with supplies, and we can take the funds and buy items needed for those suffering.”

Kathy Hoggart said they are expecting the third trailer load of supplies to come today on the Church of Christ Disaster Relief trailer. She was complimentary of the flooding of supplies being donated to help the church and those hurting from their losses. Hoggart said the Hillcrest congregation in Neosho, MO is also gathering supplies and distributing to those in need. She mentioned hygiene items, diapers, formula, and baby items, as well as anything you can think of will be appreciated.

Chambers said the church treasurer and a church elder, Doug Douthitt, has set up a special account for donations. To donate funds send them to: Church of Christ, P. O. Box 45, Joplin, MO 64802. A PayPal account is also being set up for donations. The church website will be posting the PayPal link when it is up. The Joplin church website is: www.joplinchurchofchrist.com.

Richard Chambers wants to express their appreciation for the outpouring of prayers, people reaching out, and offers to help during this time. They are reaching out to the community and area not only with a bottle of cool water but with much needed survival items.