"Glad God Sent You All My Way": Impact Kentucky Brings Hope in Wake of Tornado Damage
Around 1,000 volunteers from across Kentucky worked to bring hope and restoration to residents of eight tornado-damaged counties on August 25. Impact Kentucky: Hope Reigns was sponsored by the Kentucky Annual Conference, Red Bird Missionary Conference, and United Methodist Communications.
The Impact Kentucky sites were in Grant County, Johnson County, Lawrence County, Magoffin County, Menifee County, Morgan County, Pendleton County, and Wolfe County.
Projects included roof replacement in Grant County and home repairs in Salyersville. Volunteers cleared many pounds of debris, painted, moved items to storage, replaced windows, planted flowers and shrubs, and put siding on a trailer. They built a ramp on a home, they served lunches, and they prayed.
Local church members in the counties where Impact sites were located helped both before and during the work day. For instance, Paintsville First United Methodist Church in Johnson County served as the host church and provided overnight accommodations for some volunteers from out of town. Church members served as project team leaders and donated food, coolers, beverages, paper products, first aid kits, tools, and preparatory labor to make this event happen with grace.
Located in Morgan County, West Liberty was hit hard by the March tornado. The town’s United Methodist church building and parsonage were destroyed in the storm.
West Liberty United Methodist Church pastor Jamie Brunk noted, “It was especially gratifying to have so many of our West Liberty UMC folks to pitch in and work hard, not only in preparation, but on the actual day of the event. With no church house out of which to base operations, our people thought, planned, and worked creatively.”
The goal of the New Hope Festival in Menifee County was to provide a day of fun and purpose reflecting the love of Jesus Christ to the people of Menifee County. The festival drew 1,200 people to enjoy inflatables, music, children’s crafts, and other activities. In addition, 1,800 pairs of socks and underwear were distributed. Omega Force Strength Team also performed at the festival. Members of the team, which includes power lifters, wrestlers, and football players, share the Gospel message while performing feats of strength. Thirteen people made commitments or recommitments to Christ at this event.
Menifee County is one of three counties in Kentucky that does not yet have a United Methodist church. During Impact Kentucky, Aaron Mansfield, pastor of Morehead UMC, and Paul Brunstetter, Director of New Church Development for the Kentucky Conference, spoke with people from the area about the needs of those who are not attending a church. These kinds of discussions help lay the groundwork for a possible new church plant in the Frenchburg area.
Among the Impact volunteers were site coordinators who put many hours of work into preparing for this day. These dedicated individuals are Jamie and Sue Brunk (Morgan County), Jim Doughton (Wolfe County), Susan Elkow (Menifee County), Deb Massengale (Johnson County), Guy Moyer (Lawrence County), Barry Robinson (Grant and Pendleton Counties), and Jamie Slone (Magoffin County). Angie Cunigan from the Red Bird Conference was the coordinator for the entire Impact event.
“I've seen people's spirits so lifted,” Rev. Massengale said. “You could see the hope being raised in these people.”
Ten members of the Eastern Kentucky men’s golf team, along with their coach, also showed up to help in Wolfe County. They worked on a roof and deck repair.
“It’s nice to get out in Kentucky and the community and help people that need help,” said team member Danny Bishop. “We’re pretty fortunate to be able to play golf every day and go to school, so it’s just nice to be able to help people who need help.”
Those receiving help expressed gratitude for the volunteers’ work.
Ella Bailey lives in Salyersville. In March, the tornado picked up her home twice and moved it the edge of a cliff. Her house was completely destroyed.
Ms. Bailey remarked, “I want to thank everybody, and I'm sure glad God sent you all my way.”
Rev. Brunk was grateful to the many people who helped make Impact Kentucky a success. Most of all, he said, “Thank you, Jesus. May those we reached out to be touched by your Holy Spirit and your grace. Amen.”
Volunteers work on a house in Johnson County.