FORT WORTH -- Missourians attending the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly received an update on the work in Joplin and of missionaries in Haiti and Romania.
Bob Barker shared at the state meeting on June 21 that the Joplin Area Fuller Center for Housing broke ground for its first house June 20. He reminded listeners how he and his wife had contacted CBF Disaster Relief Coordinator Charles Ray to see how they could participate. A day later, an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, wiping out about a third of the city.
The Barkers stayed in a mobile home for several months in Joplin to coordinate volunteers for cleanup efforts. Now through the center, they coordinate new construction and major and minor renovation. The 1,100-square-foot homes are offered interest free. Homeowners must meet some requirements, including investing 350 hours of physical labor. The center is part of a coalition of nine other agencies to help the city continue to rebuild.
Barker emphasized volunteers and skilled laborers are needed. Monetary contributions also are appreciated. Homes can be built for about $40 per square foot.
CBF of Missouri Coordinator Harold Phillips noted the $175.31 offering collected at children's camp would be given to the Joplin effort.
Missourians also heard from Mike and Brenda Harwood, CBF representatives in Haiti. Harwood explained God gave him a "holy nudge" when he lost his job the day before the island nation was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. Six months later, Harwood became the Fellowship's disaster relief coordinator in Haiti.
"We are not interested in going in and doing stuff...but to go in and work alongside people," Harwood explained. CBF just completed a school in Grand Goave.
The Harwoods also work with clean water efforts. According to Harwood, 60 percent of the wells across the world are broken. The couple is teaching Haitians how to repair their wells.
"Haitians have learned that if they wait long enough someone will give them stuff," he said. He added that waiting for help has been the pattern because people, such as those from the United States, give money as the answer to poverty. CBF is teaching Haitians to form small groups for business. Each person in the group saves 10 to 15 cents every week and pools their funds.
The Harwoods are helping coordinate building "rubble" houses -- homes with walls built from rubble left by the quake. The 200-square-foot homes cost about $4,500 to build. A church also is being built.
Missourians also heard from Ralph and Tammy Stocks, CBF field personnel in Romania. Tammy Stocks, who grew up in Bernie, shared how Gwen Phillips had given her husband, Harold, accordion lessons as a Christmas gift. Harold was able to play a song for some Roma men. "The men were ecstatic," Tammy Stocks said.
Phillips presented an original painting by Terrell Carter, CBF of Missouri strategic network director, to the Stocks as a gift for their hospitality when he taught earlier this year.