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Hartford’s Shiloh Baptist helps Hackleburg’s Emmanuel with VBScomment (0)

December 8, 2011

By Anna Keller

Michelle Darrow had never been on a missions trip before, but thanks to her church’s outreach efforts in Hackleburg, she now counts herself as a missionary.

After learning that Emmanuel Baptist Church, Hackleburg, had been destroyed by a tornado April 27, Darrow and other members of Shiloh Baptist Church, Hartford, were determined to find a way to reach out.

“We asked them about their immediate needs, and they said VBS (Vacation Bible School) would be a great way to help,” said Bryan Wagner, Shiloh Baptist’s pastor. “We took a team up there, we provided all the material, set up everything, provided all the teachers and workers; all they had to do was provide the spot.”

Because the church building had been destroyed, VBS took place both outside and within the mobile church unit — essentially a doublewide trailer — provided by Alabama Baptist disaster relief.

“Originally they didn’t have anything, and we were going to have an open-air VBS, but thankfully the convention was able to bring that building,” Wagner said. “So we put an arts and crafts section in one room and did the missions study in another room, then did the big worship rally in the sanctuary room. We had games and things in the field beside the building.”

And even though it wasn’t a typical VBS because of the circumstances, it made a lasting impression on Emmanuel Baptist.

“We were at a point where we couldn’t function on our own property, and they came out and took over and did VBS and took care of everything,” said Dana Crow, Emmanuel’s secretary. “We couldn’t have asked for anyone to share God’s love in a better way than they have. They’ve ministered to our church in a big way.”

Once VBS ended, Shiloh began looking for additional ways it could reach out to Emmanuel. Its Hearts and Hands women’s group decided to organize a backpack drive later in the summer.

“The Emmanuel people didn’t realize this relationship was going to extend beyond VBS, but we decided the Hearts and Hands group could help with the backpack drive before school started,” Darrow said. “I felt like God was truly calling me to be a part of this outreach.”

And Shiloh has a list of ways it plans to continue helping Emmanuel. Among other ventures, it’s coordinated a coat drive for later in the year and hopes to help with the church rebuild next summer.

“I can’t explain how grateful we’ve been for their support,” Crow said. “Our church is a group of people who were already in need before the tornado came through, and then after the tornado, they were really in need. I think God has taken this bad thing and turned it into something to bring us closer together.”

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