August 29, 2014


JOPLIN, Mo. (BP) -- Thousands of people have given their time and resources to help the city of Joplin rebuild after last year's devastating tornado. But one family answered God's call to do even more, moving from their home and steady jobs in Kentucky to help coordinate volunteers in the devastated Missouri town.

When the EF-5 tornado struck last May 22, 161 people were killed and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged. The tornado also stirred the heart of Jackie Jacobs, a math teacher in Science Hill, Ky. He had sensed God's call on his heart, but hadn't known how or what it might mean.

"My heart immediately went out to the people and I began praying for something I could do even though I lived 12 hours away," Jacobs said. "As soon as school was out, I took my sons with me to rebuild what we could with the time we had."

Jacobs' church gave him some money to buy gas and food and sent him on his way in the middle of June last year when mangled buildings, uprooted trees and debris still dominated any major signs of cleanup and recovery.

But connecting his skills to cleanup jobs, especially ones he could do with his sons, was a challenge. Jacobs didn't know where to start, so he contacted his local director of missions in southern Kentucky, who forwarded him to the Kentucky Baptist Convention, then to the Missouri Baptist Convention, then Spring River Baptist Association and its director of missions, Steve Patterson. Patterson and the association were connected enough to point volunteers like Jacobs in the right direction, but the challenge was overwhelming.

"I was getting hundreds of phone calls a day," Patterson said. "It was more than I could handle."

One week in Joplin turned into two for Jacobs.

"There was just a sense of calling," Jacobs said. "I told people I was going back to Kentucky, but just to visit, and that I'd be back [here] in a little while." Read More

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