County churches aid tattered town

Andrew Alexander

McNairy County residents are doing inspiring things. Several of the area’s churches are working to bring blessings, love, and, most importantly, hope to the unfortunate residents of Smithville, Miss. whose homes were broken and  whose community was torn apart by a tornado that ravaged northeastern Mississippi in late April.

Over the last several weeks, Mount Gilead Church, Mount Zion Church, and Chewalla Baptist Church have been actively participating in the process of helping Smithville rebuild itself by feeding and clothing the community, and collecting toys for the children of the families who lost everything, according to Mount Gilead’s Head of Community Ministries Vonda Burns.

“We went down on faith, the Lord provided everything, and it has been unbelievable,” said Burns. “It’s what the Lord wanted us to do.”

Three weeks ago the churches combined their resources to take up a collection for tattered Smithville, Miss. and delivered it to Amory First Baptist Church of Amory, Miss., which is responsible for disaster relief projects in that area of Mississippi.

The next week the Church put together a fish fry that fed over 450 of Smithville’s 850 citizens, said Burns.

Burns and members of the three churches’ congregations provided those individuals with fried catfish, cole slaw, hush puppies, and dessert but, more than that, showed them that God had not abandoned them, according to Burns.

Last week, Mount Gilead led the effort to collect toys from anyone in the area willing to part with them, so that they could present them to the children of Smithville and continue to display God’s love and blessings through the care of folks that they have never met, said Burns.

“When we went with the food, we noticed the youth from Amory First Baptist Church bringing toys for the kids in Smithville that lost everything,” said Burns.

“Their children had lost everything. Their homes were gone and the kids just wanted to go home,” said Burns.

Seeing and hearing these things and following the will of the Lord has driven these local churches to do such great things, according to Burns.

Burns spoke of her experience in Smithville, saying that the town was completely demolished by the storms, and even their church was ripped from its foundation.

“I stood where the church was and I felt God while I was watching all these churches work together,” said Burns. “We plan to do more, and we want all churches to work together.

“Denominations aren’t important. Reaching out to people that are in need is what is important,” said Burns.

The first load of toys for Smithville was delivered last week during the fish fry, and Burns took another truck-load down last week. The collection of those toys was being headed up by Carla Hall, a member of Mount Gilead Church.

Burns’ and several of McNairy County’s churches’ inspiring acts and devotion to the will of God was summed up as she emotionally stated, “The Lord has blessed me so much to just allow me to be a part of His miracle,” referring to the charitable work these local churches have been doing for the community of Smithville, Miss.

Pastor Wes White of Smithville First Baptist Church said that the efforts of the McNairy County churches that have sent aid to their town has been well received, and the donations have been quite the blessing. More importantly, “It allowed us a few moments of reprieve from what we had gone though as we enjoyed the fellowship and joy they brought to us.

“The benefit was a tremendous show of Christian fellowship,” said Pastor White. “We were encouraged by their heart of servitude and the joy they brought to our community.”

According to Pastor White, most of the debris has been removed, and the demolition necessary has also been finished, so the town of Smithville is currently planning the rebuilding of the church and the community.