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Enterprise’s Hillcrest builds special bond with Alberta Baptistcomment (0)

December 8, 2011

By Brian Blackwell

When a tornado touched down in Tuscaloosa on April 27, the disaster brought back painful memories for Bryan Peacock.

He survived a tornado that touched down in Enterprise four years ago.

“I’ve lived in Enterprise and Tuscaloosa for most of my life, so both towns where I had lived for so many years were hit by a natural disaster,” said Peacock, a University of Alabama graduate. “It was a feeling of not that I had to help but that I should.”

So he has joined fellow members of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Enterprise, on disaster relief missions trips to help rebuild Tuscaloosa residents’ property and spirits.

The Hillcrest Baptist members — ranging from youth to senior adults — have reconstructed porches, collected items such as blankets and food for redistribution, cleared debris from properties and prayer walked in neighborhoods.

The missions teams, composed of between 25 and 40 members, have also canvassed the community to promote events such as Vacation Bible School and carnivals at Alberta Baptist Church, whose building was heavily damaged by the tornado.

Larry Corder, pastor of Alberta Baptist, said the two congregations have formed a special bond.

“They’ve been such an encouragement to us,” Corder said. “Without churches like Hillcrest Baptist Church, we wouldn’t have been able to carry out the many [ministries] we’ve done so far here in Tuscaloosa. God used the disaster they experienced years ago to give them a mindset of the best ways to help us deal with this tragedy here.”

He said efforts by the Hillcrest teams have helped his congregation reach more people in the community, including those from different ethnic groups.

“They’ve helped us open doors in our community that weren’t open before the tornado,” Corder said. “They’ve helped us break down racial and cultural barriers.”

Hillcrest member Todd Clark said helping break down those barriers through relationship building has been a humbling experience. A participant in most of the church’s relief trips to Tuscaloosa, Clark said team members have demonstrated God’s commandment to show His love in a real way.

“This has given us an opportunity to show we’re disciples and have that Christian love for one another,” he said. “We have that attitude that we’re here to do whatever we can to help our fellow person in need.”

While rebuilding structures has been vital, Clark said serving as a listening ear has been important as well. This became evident during his first relief trip to the city, when he and his daughter were prayer walking in a neighborhood.

“I found it very encouraging that when we asked what their needs were, people didn’t say they wanted stuff the most but prayer,” Clark said. “Many people wanted to tell their story. I’ve never experienced anything like that, and it definitely touched my heart.”

The monthly trips to Tuscaloosa reflect a larger missions effort by Hillcrest, according to LifeGroups and Missions Minister Travis Dunham. He said his congregation also has ongoing ministry efforts in Enterprise, various states in the United States and other countries.

Dunham said ministering in Tuscaloosa is another way for his congregation to actively minister on an ongoing basis.

“The most enjoyable thing is the way people in our church have responded,” he said. “We haven’t had to beg or twist arms for people to go to help out in Tuscaloosa, but they saw a need and an opportunity to serve. Our people are joyfully serving those in need.”

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