Helping Hands

Published 11:04 am Monday, June 27, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Thanks to 17 neighbors to our north, three Atmore families are finally able to remove the blue FEMA plastic from their roofs.
Workers for the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief were in town last week giving the homes of those less fortunate the attention needed following damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
"We came down the first few weeks of October to do tree removal and tarp roofs and things like that after the storm came through," relief worker Michael Breeden said. "When our group was here then, we were talking about how much time we thought it would be in long term recovery. We decided then that we were going to try to bring a crew down this summer and do some roofing. So that's how this group got together. We felt like it would be a longtime long term recovery process here, so we wanted to come back here and help."
Breeden, who is pastor of Garrison Baptist Church in Dayton, Tenn., along with members of his congregation, arrived in Atmore last Sunday for their summer mission trip. They left Saturday morning after roofing three homes and painting one.
"We really kind of bonded with the folks here because of the storm," Breeden said. "We felt real strongly to come back, so we kept praying about it, and the Lord kept putting here on our hearts. That's why we came here."
Garrison Baptist has taken summer mission trips to the Navaho reservation in Arizona, ministered in West Virginia and various places in Georgia and has even participated in an international mission project in Romania.
Stefon Gray, who has been a member of Garrison Baptist for four years, decided to make the mission trip his family's vacation.
"My two girls came down right after the hurricane when they were off from college for fall break and they came back with pictures and we couldn't believe it," he said. "So we decided when they planned the trip for the church to come. We thought it would be a good thing to do as a family vacation."
As for Dianne Tumlin, a real estate agent, and her husband, Bob, a contractor, they've been "construction ministering" for 12 years.
"I sell real estate and my husband builds houses and we just feel like God provides for a lot of our needs and our finances, and this is our way of giving something back, not to just our community, but an outreach ministry also," Dianne said.
The missionaries worked from 6 a.m. until lunch each day. They took a break until about 5 p.m. and went back to work until it was too dark to work.
"It's too hot to work all day," Breeden said. "The shingles won't stand our weight on them and will start coming apart, so in the heat of the day we stop and come back in and rest."
Breeden said he was amazed to see so many "blue roofs" left not repaired.
"I was amazed to see so many roofs still damaged," Breeden said. "We drove back through the Carver Avenue area where we had put a lot of tarps up and I couldn't believe how many tarps we saw."
One couple, Shawn and Heidi Hickman, showed their dedication after getting married the Saturday before the group departed, honeymooning for a couple of days in Pensacola, Fla. and joining the team to finish up work.
"They just really wanted to be here with us," Breeden said.
Despite the heat, Breeden said it was all worth it because of the appreciation shown by the families they helped.
"Everybody who owns the homes we've been to have been really tremendous," Breeden said. "One lady fed us supper last night (Thursday), she was so appreciative. She cooked catfish for us and stuff like that and we really appreciated that."
All-in-all, Breeden believes the church's crew has worked really hard and really well together.
"They've been working so hard and so together," he said. "We have a contractor who's with us and he's been amazed at how much we've been able to get done as a group."
Gray agrees that the homeowners' appreciation helped keep them motivated.
"They've just been very open," "It's not like we're coming in and doing it because they're too lazy to do it, it's something that they can't do and they're very, very grateful that we are doing it. It's good to work for people that appreciate it, but we just like to see the roofs where they're not going to leak and to be able drive away and know that the houses look better. It's nice to know that these people are better off. Also, we want to talk to them about their spiritual relationship and what their walk with God is and make sure we're not just fixing houses, but also helping them get their heart in order and be able to be better people."
In an effort to minister to Atmore residents, Breeden's wife, Jackie, and several of the other ladies on the trip held backyard Bible clubs at various locations including the house they stayed at on South Presley St.
"The Bible clubs had stories, puppets, music, games, snacks and crafts," Jackie said.
Not only does Garrison Baptist enjoy lending helping hands to neighboring states, they also preach the gospel throughout their home state.
"We do a lot of work at home," Breeden said. "We have a christian college in town, so we organize with some of the students to do some student ministries there, like painting and things like this. Then we try to do these type projects somewhere within the United States and then every 18 months we'll do an international project."
As for their trip to Alabama, Jackie said they couldn't have felt more welcomed.
"The merchants, restaurant workers and Charlotte Boyle of the American Red Cross have all been helpful and kind," she said.
"This has been a good trip," Dianne added. "I'm just glad we're able to do it. I feel like this is a talent God has given us, so we can come out and help others."
Other members of the mission group include, Mike Howard, Jan Howard, Aaron Howard, Jalena Howard, Alice Gray, Erin Gray, Tanya Gray Lindy Whisman, Ariel Slunder and Don Pickrell.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox