'Extreme Makeover': Baptists cook in Joplin
The ABC show's cast and crew and some 10,000 builders and volunteers came to Joplin, Mo., last fall for one of the largest projects the show has ever attempted: constructing seven houses in seven days for families displaced by a massive tornado that demolished a third of the city (an estimated 2,000 buildings) and killed 162 people in May 2011.
The ambitious undertaking required preparing and serving more than 30,000 meals for those involved in the building process. That's where Missouri Baptists stepped in.
"We prepared the meal we were assigned to prepare and we cleaned up afterward. We didn't even see the people who were eating it. It was definitely a servant-based ministry," said Steven Strauch, director of missions for Lawrence County (Mo.) Baptist Association.
The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team initially contacted Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield since the church had helped with meals for an earlier episode of the show in their area, said Steve Patterson, director of missions for Spring River Baptist Association in Joplin.
"Originally they were going to cook all of the meals in Springfield and then drive them here for each of the five mealtimes around the clock," Patterson said.
Then Patterson suggested they contact Tommy Blair at nearby Shoal Creek Baptist Association about setting up their disaster relief feeding unit to cook onsite.
Using Shoal Creek's mass care feeding unit, Missouri Baptists provided as many as 850 meals four times a day for each of the seven days.
"We were based on the parking lot of the St. John's hospital that was destroyed," said Deborah Childers, Spring River's secretary who served as the association's Extreme Makeover contact. "We cooked onsite, placed the meals in food storage containers and took them a block or so away to the chosen building sites."
Volunteers from six southwest Missouri Baptist associations partnered together to feed approximately 10,000 builders, tradesmen and volunteers. Working alongside Spring River, Shoal Creek and Lawrence County were volunteers from Greene County Baptist Association, Barry County Baptist Association and Ozark Prairie Baptist Association.
"Missouri Baptist Convention churches were very deeply involved in this effort," Patterson said. "They were servants of the Lord and we were thankful to have them."
The Joplin project, tentatively scheduled to air Jan. 20, will be the show's landmark 200th episode.
This article originally appeared in The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Kayla Rinker is a contributing writer for The Pathway.