Brownstown church goes on mission trip to help tornado victims in Kentucky

A group of volunteers from Brownstown Christian Church recently traveled to Kentucky for nearly a week to do their part to help with tornado relief in the western part of the Bluegrass State.

The area saw devastation in December when tornadoes ripped through it.

According to the National Weather Service, one of those tornadoes had an estimated wind speed of 190 mph and a path length of 165.7 miles. That tornado also was had an EF4 rating, the second-highest rank.

Aidan Wayt, a junior at Brownstown Central High School, said the church wanted to help in Kentucky when the disaster happened, but too many other people were in the area at the time.

Four months later, 14 church members were able to ride the bus down to Benton, Kentucky, to help three families rebuild their homes.

“I just felt like it was a really good experience for us to bond together to help these people,” Wayt said.

The mission work included hanging drywall, pouring concrete, painting, picking up trash and demolishing parts of one house for reconstruction.

The church members left March 20 and returned to Brownstown on March 25. That was the week of spring break for students attending Brownstown schools.

The church group worked with Helping His Hands Disaster Response from Vincennes to help rebuild homes.

Helping His Hands stayed in the affected area in Kentucky to make sure homes were rebuilt while different groups have come in and out to help families.

Some members of the group reported they could only see parts of a staircase and a closet at one house in Benton and only the floor at another.

One family had their home of 30 years destroyed, and one man no longer had a home where he could obtain his dialysis treatments, they said.

Carlene Hash, another volunteer, said she was humbled to see people from different generations in the same church work together during a mission trip.

“One reason why we like to do this is because it brings fellowship within the church and across generations,” she said. “The young kids are amazed by what us older folks can do, and the older folks are amazed at what the younger ones do. The fun we have with each other is a wonderful gift.”

Fifth-grader Maddie Blair was the youngest member of the team, and the oldest was Carlene’s husband, Marvin Hash, who’s 84.

Josh Mason, youth minister at the church, said he was amazed by the work Marvin did.

“You don’t expect him to grab the chainsaw grinder to grind rebar and yet there he is,” he said. “You expect high-schoolers to be doing that. You don’t expect an 84-year-old man to be chasing after the high-schoolers to beat them to the spot to do the heavy lifting. It’s nuts.”

Margaret Gregory said she has been on several mission trips and normally cooks or paints. This trip, she had to pick up concrete.

“It was a little different, but we all jelled together and got along fine,” she said.

The church’s volunteers were housed in a bank that had been converted into a church. There were two sleeping quarters: One for men and one for women.

“I will say coming from a week on a cot to getting back to a home bed … it’s completely different,” Mason said.

Sherrell Perry and her husband, Fred Perry, went to Kentucky with the church. She said she felt good knowing that people went to the affected area to love and care for people who lost so much.

“It was a blessing to me to know we were helping them because they didn’t have anyone,” she said. “God just gives you the strength, and it’s really a privilege.”

Fred said he enjoyed listening to people talk about what they went through because he thought it was helpful since they’re still processing the disaster.

He also enjoyed being unplugged for the week.

“We didn’t have TV the whole week, and I kind of enjoyed it,” Perry said.

Doug Pogue, Evan Williams, Stacy Blair, Christie Blair and Charlie Blair also helped BCC with relief work on the mission trip.

The church plans on doing a mission trip in New Orleans this summer.