Southern Illinois Southern Baptists Help South Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Southern Illinois Southern Baptists Help South Mississippi

Soon after Katrina's wind died down and the water subsided, faith based groups from around the country began delivering help and hope to storm victims.

A big part of that ongoing effort involves volunteers repairing hurricane damaged homes.

This week a group of Baptists from Southern Illinois is ministering to South Mississippi. The volunteers are on a specific mission.

"Basically, just to try and help them get some dry wall up," said Brian Sherman, while hoisting a piece of sheet rock.

Homeowner Deborah Rowell was thrilled.

"What a blessing. They showed up with a trailer full of sheet rock. And they've just been working every day since then," she said.

The volunteers are from several small churches around Mt. Vernon, Illinois. They've heard news about New Orleans, but were shocked at the damage in Mississippi.

"Illinois, we see tornadoes that are like narrow paths. Not miles and miles of total destruction. You don't see that ever," said Sherman.

"I can't wait to tell people I "hung rock" in my house," said Andrew Rowell.

Andrew is more than a helper. The home-schooled 13-year-old is a quick study.

"Hanging sheet rock. I did my whole room, besides the wall on top. I didn't do the ceilings. But I did all the other walls," he proudly proclaimed.

Each wall finished is a step closer to moving the family of six out of their FEMA trailer, back into their home.

"They're anxious to get back in. I can't imagine being out of my home for that long and living in a little trailer like that. It must be very difficult for them," said David Mitchell of Illinois.

"I think it's wonderful that they're doing this. I can't wait to move back in. It's like a little wood bedroom inside that FEMA camper," said Andrew Rowell.

His mom is equally anxious. The team of workers is restoring her home and mentoring her son.

"They're awesome. And they've taken time with my son and are showing him and letting him help. That is awesome," she said.

The visitors promise to share what they've learned in Mississippi and bring others from Illinois to help.

Success Baptist Church of Woolmarket is hosting the mission team. The Illinois volunteers will be headed back home this weekend, but not before a "goodbye dinner" of catfish and gumbo.

By Steve Phillips

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