VERONA, Wis.— Severe weather has turned into an opportunity for Memorial Baptist Church to minister to its community. About midnight on Monday, June 16, two tornadoes converged into one in Verona before splitting again and going into Madison.
Around 1:00 a.m. Memorial Baptist Church informed the 911 dispatch center that it could use its building to shelter any displaced people. An hour later the church received word that its building would, in fact, be needed. Pastor Jeremy Scott and church members opened the building, and through the course of the night and Tuesday morning, six families arrived for shelter and assistance.
A few ladies from Memorial Baptist came and cooked a hot breakfast for the guests, while others assisted them in booking hotel rooms or finding more permanent housing solutions. As the guests left, church members gave them each a bag of groceries to take with them.
On Tuesday afternoon and evening a few men from the church went to the tornado-affected areas in Verona and Madison to see if people needed their help. Then on Wednesday the church sent out work crews—two crews consisting of church members at 9:30 a.m., and six more crews made up of church members and community volunteers at 6:00 p.m. Along with helping in the recovery efforts, they set up a tent in Verona offering free bottled water.
While Memorial Baptist was helping its community, Pastor Scott learned that Baptist Builders Club had contacted the church to offer its own help. Scott returned Director Michael Nolan’s call, with Scott saying, “You probably don’t remember me, but we served together about seven years ago.”
Scott had ministered in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and recalled that a GARBC pastor had connected him with the GARBC Resource Center in Schaumburg, Ill., and Baptist Builders Club. Through BBC–USA and Gospel Literature Services, the GARBC provided resources as well as a tract called Why?
“If you have more of those,” Scott said, referring to the tract, “we could really use them, as God is giving us plenty of opportunity to show and share the love of Christ.”
Nolan offered more than tracts. Through Baptist Builders Club, he explained, individuals were FEMA trained and ready to go and help Memorial Baptist Church reach out to its devastated community.
- Read about Baptist Builders Club’s Disaster Relief ministry.
Scott said the one thing the church had plenty of was local volunteers, but they could use prayers and possibly financial resources. As far as funds were concerned, the community and members of Memorial Baptist would supply most of the financial assistance they needed. What they didn’t have was immediate finances.
Baptist Builders Club granted Memorial Baptist Church the $4,000 it needed for immediate assistance. The funds were greatly appreciated, because Memorial Baptist ended up leading the cleanup. Scott said some of the agencies that were in the area to help dropped the ball, and local officials asked the church to be a main point of contact and coordinate relief efforts. The police department gave Scott its contact lists of people who needed help and people who were volunteering.
Scott detailed what his church would be leading in:
“Moving forward, we will try to coordinate citywide work crews and projects. Some projects ahead of us include handing out free water over the next few days, yard cleanup, tree branch removal, feeding of volunteers, and possibly nail removal from yards. There are two locations where the tornadoes touched down, one in Verona and one in Madison. Our church is serving both locations. Currently we have organized and dispatched over 100 volunteers into our community. Additionally, we are raising funds to give gift cards to families affected by the tornadoes and help supply their needs as they attempt to rebuild their lives after this storm.”
At one point the governor of Wisconsin came by the church to thank them for all they were doing for the community.
“We have prayed for opportunities to serve our community in the name of Jesus Christ,” Scott says. “Last Sunday’s message on the Good Samaritan is the most recent example. I am in awe of how God is answering our prayers!”
He continues, “Right now our church is known by all police, fire, and public officials—for the right reasons! Since yesterday, I have had personal conversations with our mayor, chief of police, fire department officials, aldermen, city administrator, and state governor, all wanting to thank our church for stepping up to the plate to meet needs so quickly. To God be the glory!
“A few weeks ago I was commenting to someone, ‘In order for our church to be heard in this community, this community needs to need us.’ As I mentioned to our church last Sunday, at one time our community depended on our church to meet any firefighting need that arose because we had the church bell to warn the city and the largest cistern to draw water. The town used to depend on the Baptist church on Main Street. I’ve been asking God to help re-establish our church in our community. I sincerely believe He is answering this request.”