Joplin, Missouri, a sleepy college town in Southern Missouri, was struck by a massive tornado on late Sunday afternoon. Initial reports indicate at least 89 fatalities and 2000 buildings damaged or destroyed, including homes and places of business. St. John’s Regional Medical Center was also hit, and is currently unable to offer medical services.
Week of Compassion has been in contact with First Christian Church of Joplin and South Joplin Christian Church. South Joplin was damaged by the storm, and several members have been affected. Though the homes of several members of First Christian sustained damage, the church itself was not damaged, and operated overnight as an emergency shelter before Missouri Southern State University set up a more extensive shelter for storm victims. FCC is operating as a drop-off point for supplies for those affected by the tornado.
First responders have immediately leapt to work, and Joplin is inundated by volunteers. Those involved with the initial response are clear: Self-deployed volunteers will not be helpful. There are some very specific needs for skilled volunteers, such as medical professionals. Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering staff are currently planning on making a pastoral visit in the coming weeks, and will assess needs and ways we can respond to the entire community at that time.
For now, the best way that you can respond is to “Pray, Pay, and Stay”: pray for all of those affected, that they might find healing, hope, and support. Provide a donation to Week of Compassion’s response fund, which will go to meet immediate needs and long-term recovery initiatives. Finally, wait. There will be opportunities to lend a hand. However, now is not the time for unskilled volunteers.
Thank you for all that you do—for your hope, your prayers, and your Courageous Compassion.