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Deerfoot Church brings new life to New Orleanscomment (0)

July 24, 2008

By Krista Leonard

It could have been the same old story — a terrible storm, a surge of volunteers and then a desertion of help — but it wasn’t this time.

Deerfoot Baptist Church, Trussville, in Birmingham Baptist Association recently assured the people of New Orleans that they haven’t been forgotten even though it has been nearly three years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through the city.

New life was brought to New Orleans’ Zone 6, the area Alabama Baptists partnered with through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Operation New Orleans Area Homes (NOAH) Rebuild, when members of Deerfoot Baptist helped wherever they could June 15–20.

The church’s first congregationwide missions trip, the experience also brought renewed energy to Deerfoot.

“It is one thing to teach missions, preach missions and even give financial support for missions. It is quite another thing to experience missions,” said Pastor Roger Willmore. “There are 70 men and women, youth and children at Deerfoot Baptist Church who will never be the same.”

Deerfoot is one of more than 20 Alabama Baptist churches registered to work in Zone 6 this summer.

The Deerfoot team split into two groups. One worked on reconstruction of First Baptist Church, Chalmette, La., while the other held Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the Carver Baptist Center.

“It was an accident that we ended up at this site,” said Greg Slovensky, a member of Deerfoot who directed the construction project at First, Chalmette, La. “We didn’t get some forms in on time, and so we were redirected to this site. God took our mistakes and made it work.”

His group poured concrete to hold air-conditioning units and for a drive-thru area attached to the church, did steel and electrical work, hung suspended ceilings and painted.

While Slovensky and his crew worked in the heat, Carol Graydon directed the group leading VBS.

“I think a lot of seed was planted,” Graydon said of the week, which was the first week of Bible school at the center this summer.

Her group led VBS for around 30 children in the mornings before moving on to three parks to hold backyard Bible clubs for about 40 children in the afternoons.

The group also led a purity class for teenage girls.

“The children just want you to hug them and tell them that you love them,” Graydon said.

And the children from Deerfoot did just that, reaching out to touch, love and talk to the children in New Orleans, which provided a touching moment for Willmore as their pastor.

“I felt that our children were getting the message that we were on mission for God,” he said of watching them interact.

Seven-year-old Andrew Deerman helped lead VBS and said the Bible stories were helpful to the children.

“We thought the kids needed to be taught about Jesus,” he said.

Graydon agreed, saying the whole city needs to know. “There is such a need down there to just show them Jesus’ love for them.”

And Deerfoot plans to continue helping New Orleans, Willmore said.

“As a group, we decided we wanted to have a longer-term relationship with this ministry and not to just go in for the one-time missions trip,” he said. “We want to make an investment.”

Gary Walker, Alabama Baptists’ project manager in Zone 6, said there are still opportunities to help.

“It isn’t the rebuilding of the buildings that is important,” he said. “It is the opening of the doors to witness for Christ.”

For information on Zone 6 projects, contact Tommy Puckett at 1-800-264-1225, Ext. 229, or tpuckett@alsbom.org.

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