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Etowah’s Southside Baptist adopts area father, daughtercomment (0)

September 1, 2011

By Anna Keller

Alan Broome was living and ministering in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, so he’s no stranger to mobilizing teams to help with cleanup and rebuilding efforts following storm damage. Now the outreach pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Etowah Baptist Association, Broome and several others from his church family have been helping to put their community back in order following the devastating April tornadoes.

“Immediately following the storms, we started receiving calls from church members who had friends or family members impacted by the storm,” he said. “We started by offering debris removal, counseling, a clothes and toys closet — things like that.”

That initial approach quickly grew into a monthslong effort to help community members get back on their feet — and created life-changing relationships.

Albert Davis, a member of Southside Baptist, was helping a fellow church member in the heavily impacted Shoal Creek Valley area when he heard of a man named Gary and his daughter who needed help. Their home had been damaged in the storm, and the man, who had lost a leg in a work accident a few years earlier, needed handicap accessible features.

“We started by building a handicapped ramp for him — the St. Clair Baptist Association furnished the materials and we provided the labor,” Davis said. “That’s where it started and then the project grew.”

Since that first building project, he and fellow Etowah Association church members have built an extra room and specially equipped bathroom for Gary. They’ve also re-roofed the house and are in the process of installing a heat pump and air conditioner.

Though the work itself has been significant, perhaps the best thing to come out of the situation is that Southside Baptist gained two new worshipers.

“Since the time we started helping Gary, he’s become a Christian and gotten his little 4-year-old girl in church and they’re getting involved,” said Jack Carter of Southside Baptist, who has been a part of the outreach. “He came to church one Sunday, then came again and was saved that second week. His daughter is even in our church’s day care now.” As it turned out, Gary had spent the last three years — since the accident that caused him to lose his leg — relatively secluded. Since interacting with the Southside Baptist folks, Broome said, the transformation has been remarkable.

“It’s been amazing to see Gary with Albert, in particular,” he said. “Gary has become almost a son to him. Albert’s mentoring him, helping him with some decisions and parenting advice, since Gary’s a single dad and has lots of questions.”

And Gary’s story is just one of many the church has generated in the last few months through its cleanup efforts. “It really created a lot of excitement throughout our church as well as within the community around our church,” said Scott Harris, Southside Baptist’s pastor. “Our folks responded with passion, saw the need in the community and really responded. We had a Sunday night where we decided as a church to go into the community and help folks, and we had about 150 people show up.” At this point in the overall rebuilding process, Broome said skilled workers such as electricians and carpenters are particularly needed.

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