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FBC Fairview, others help with rebuildcomment (0)

August 4, 2011

By Neisha Fuson

She lost a lot that day. Her home was severely damaged, and all her salvageable belongings needed to be moved out quickly before the rain poured into her open living room. Adilee Bartlett, a widow in her 80s, went to stay with relatives in the area.

She was the last person anyone at First Baptist Church, Fairview, in East Cullman Baptist Association expected to see the morning of April 28, cooking and serving food to the community. But there she was — with a big smile on her face.

And that represents the spirit of First, Fairview. More than half of its 300-member congregation spent the two weeks after the April 27 tornado serving the community. Church members served 4,000 meals day and night, delivered supplies to the community, cleared debris and served more than 4,000 hours in chainsaw jobs.

Pastor David Chambers saw young and old from the church, “doing things that were totally out of their element.”

“[First, Fairview] had an attitude of ‘With God’s help, we can do this,’” he said.

But the church was certainly not alone in its disaster relief efforts.

People from across Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Mississippi sent either truckloads of supplies or teams to assist in cleanup as First, Fairview, became a sort of “command post” for the area. The American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency also set up trailers at the church for one day each in early April.

And First, Fairview, continues to reach its community but no longer in the form of emergency relief. It’s time to rebuild.

And the church is starting by helping one of its own do just that.

Wanda Randolph, a member of First, Fairview, for 22 years, teaches the senior adult women’s Sunday School class.

She and her husband, Tony, were unharmed, but their home was destroyed.

Volunteers from First, Fairview, as well as other East Cullman Association churches — Mount Hermon Baptist, Joppa; Welcome Baptist, Baileyton; Flint Creek Baptist, Vinemont; Mount Zion Baptist, Cullman; and Lystra Baptist, Cullman — are helping rebuild the Randolphs’ home.

In late July, 26 teenage volunteers from Faith Baptist Church, Battlecreek, Mich., and Eagle Heights Baptist Church, Somerset, Ky., also worked on the new house. It is located directly behind the old one and is 2,880 square feet with a basement and safe room that has three cement walls and is completely underground.

“I’d do it all again if that’s what it took to bring one more person to [the Lord],” Randolph said as she choked back tears.

Her husband was one who decided to recommit his life to Christ, be baptized and become a member of First, Fairview, during the rebuilding effort. He was baptized July 31.

Even after all the heartache and loss, “I am a little excited about all this,” Wanda Randolph said with a smile as she gave a tour of what would become her new home.

Two more area families will have the opportunity for the same kind of excitement, according to Wintford Haynes, former disaster relief coordinator for East Cullman Association. The association plans to build two more houses in the area, he noted.

Many may ask why Baptists serve the community in such dramatic ways.

“God puts the love in us for our fellow man,” Chambers said.

Wanda Randolph added, “This is what [the body of Christ] does.”

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