Baptist disaster relief team helps clean-up effort

Published 11:35 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — These men drove over 200 miles to work all day in the hot sun, cutting and moving trees, picking up debris and helping those in need.

“We work for the Lord,” Billy Stark said. “That’s our ministry.”

The Southern Baptist Convention sends teams to disaster areas to help the uninsured, the underinsured and the elderly in cleaning a storm’s aftermath.

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On Tuesday, Stark and his four-man team from the Yalobusha Baptist Association out of Coffeeville, were donning work gloves and carrying chainsaws to tackle the mammoth-sized tree that had fallen in someone’s yard on Stinesmith Road in the county.

Despite the cloudless sky and the 80-degree weather, the men were riding around the yard on four-wheelers, driving a backhoe and clearing debris on their house of the day.

The Yalobusha Association arrived in Natchez Monday night to help clean up after the storm that blew through Sunday morning, leaving in its wake downed limbs and trees.

Stark said a Southern Baptist Association representative toured Natchez and Adams County, and essentially filled out a work order for Stark’s crew to start clearing.

“We’re mostly a chainsaw team,” Stark.

And going around to not just Mississippi, but to Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, is all part of their ministry, he said — doing the Lord’s work.

And after the limbs are carried away, Stark said the crew takes some time to tell the homeowners about Jesus Christ.

“We’ll have a witness session,” Stark said.

And while the crews leave their families and homes for weeks at a time to help in disaster areas, Stark said that’s just part of the ministry.

This is not the first time the Southern Baptist Convention has come to help the city and county in its time of need, either, Stark said.

Clean-up crews came to help after Hurricane Gustav.

Stark said his crew will more than likely pack up and leave tonight, but in the meantime, they have been staying at Parkway Baptist Church.