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SBC students, volunteers help clean up storm debris

Sunday night worship for the Students Ministry at Southside Baptist Church was unlike any other earlier this week.

Last Saturday afternoon’s severe thunderstorm and straight-line winds left behind extensive damage to property owners east of Downtown Greenville. Derrick Gordon was the hardest hit storm victim in the area with nearly 20 trees uprooted, most of which came crashing down on his house. With that in mind, SBC student/associate pastor Aaron Miller and his students decided to offer their assistance. 

With chainsaws in hand, Miller and more than 25 of his students, along with other church and community volunteers, converged on Gordon’s property located at 2425 Luverne Hwy., to help cut and cleanup trees, limbs and other debris scattered throughout his property.

“One of my things that I preach to my students all of the time is doing different things,” he said. “Sunday nights, we have our worship and that’s normal for them. This is so abnormal, but it’s a great opportunity for them to get out and help others. This is their worship tonight.”

Gordon was on hand assisting in the cleanup efforts. He said the outpouring of help was overwhelming.

“This is amazing, there is no way I could have gotten this done by myself,” Gordon said as chainsaws roared in the background. “I really appreciate Michelle (Barrow) and Southside Baptist Church for coming out and bringing their youth out and going to work. It’s just amazing how much they’ve gotten done in such a short period of time.”

Barrow is a member of SBC and also Gordon’s neighbor. Her home and property were also damaged during the storm, but said she knew Gordon would need more help than anyone else considering the extent of damage he suffered.

“I’ve just got some great neighbors – bottom line,” Gordon said. “Our relationship as neighbors has been like this forever.”

Miller believes service work is an extension of faith.

“As much as we preach being like Christ – we can go and worship, we can do so many things – but this is just being God’s hands and feet,” he said. “This gives our students an opportunity to put into practice what we talk about every week. Some of the students – I think sometimes they don’t realize what reality is – as we drove in they were like, ‘It wasn’t this bad at my house.’ To see this right across town and to see people hurting, it was a reality check.”

In less than an hour after the students and volunteers arrived on scene, changes were evident. A home that was once littered and hidden by fallen trees could now be seen again.

“I’m so appreciative,” Gordon said.

Miller added that he wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of love to Gordon and his family.

“One of the best things about Greenville – I grew up here – is to see our community come together to help somebody out like this,” he concluded. “A lot of the times when I was growing up, it was all about community and I think we’re starting to see that come back around for our young people. People my age and even our students love the idea of community and helping out – it’s important. This is a great opportunity to serve. It doesn’t matter if they go to our church, it doesn’t matter if we know them, just come out here and give them a helping hand.”