Pastor Tim Britton never would have expected to find himself surveying tornado damage as part of his role as a pastor. Britton leads Conway First Church of the Nazarene in Conway, Arkansas, only a 20-minute drive up Highway 64 from Vilonia, which was devastated by a tornado this past Sunday. Although his community wasn’t directly affected, Britton explains, “Everyone has a friend or a relative who has been affected. Our kids go to the same high school … our stories are connected.”
As Britton drove to meet with local pastors and members of the community, he saw the path of the tornado’s destruction. “You drive through the affected areas and for miles and miles and miles all you see is a path of destruction,” he says.
The drive to Vilonia was largely rural and unpopulated, but upon arriving, he was amazed at what he saw. There was “devastation in every direction,” he says. “I stood across the street from what used to be a neighborhood and saw that it is now just rubble. Life has been pretty much destroyed for them.”[space_20]
[space_20]In the midst of this tragedy, Britton is one of many volunteers who has stepped up to support his neighbors in this time of great need. Britton’s church began collecting tarps, food, clothing, and other basic necessities for the families who lost so much during the recent storm.
Britton says he’s proud of the way his congregation has lived out compassion during this time. “We feel the hurt of our neighbors,” he says.
Members of Britton’s church, along with those from surrounding churches, will be gathering at Liberty Church of the Nazarene in Vilonia this Saturday to help with the overwhelming task of cleaning up the neighborhoods and streets of Vilonia and surrounding areas. They expect more than 100 volunteers to participate this weekend.
The need for disaster response is still great. Support is needed for the children, families, and communities who are picking up the pieces of their lives. Financial gifts help provide for immediate and long-term recovery needs.
“We want to effectively serve as many people as we can,” Britton says. “We want to meet the real needs that exist.”