Nashville Tornado Relief

Caring for a Devastated Community

Calvary Chapels Are Working Alongside Samaritan’s Purse to Rebuild Homes in Nashville, TN.

Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Christian Rodriguez, early March 2020

pastor helps move debris

Above: Mark Kirk, senior pastor of Calvary Knoxville, and a teen help move debris.

In the early morning hours of March 3, residents of Middle Tennessee were awakened suddenly by several tornadoes—one was an EF-3 and another an EF-4. Even downtown Nashville wasn’t spared. Winds of up to 175 mph blew out windows, downed trees and power lines, tossed airplanes, and flattened homes, schools, and businesses. Across four counties, 24 people, including five children, were killed. Many more were injured.

A team from Calvary Knoxville, TN, a Calvary Chapel affiliate, worked in Nashville in the rubble of storage units destroyed by a tornado, helping to empty the single unit that survived the storm intact. The owner, David, guided them as they carried his precious family heirlooms—some of them a century old and including workbenches built by his grandfather—to another unit in Nashville that wasn’t damaged.

team works together

Above: Together, the team moves heavy objects.

“He got emotional when he was talking to us, thankful we were able to get that stuff out before everything was to be torn down in the next day or two. There was no way he was going to be able to get all of that work done himself,” said Travis Carroll, an assistant pastor at Calvary Knoxville. Travis and Senior Pastor Mark Kirk led the work team of 12 to the Nashville area in early March to work with Samaritan’s Purse, helping the devastated community begin the process of rebuilding their homes and lives.

team member comforts survivor

Above: One of the team members encourages a homeowner in Tennessee.

They consider this trip to be part of their fellowship’s vision for missions. “God’s called us to go into the whole world, but we also have to make sure we’re taking care of local missions, our own ‘Jerusalem’. Especially when a major catastrophe like this happens in our backyard, we’re going to be a part of it,” Mark declared. “Samaritan’s Purse makes that easy to do because they bring in all the mobilization equipment. We just put the teams together to be a part of it.”

young man moves logs

Above: Elijiah of Calvary Knoxville ponders his strategy for moving logs.

Team members helped remove tree and brush debris from properties. Jobs that would have normally taken days took just hours to complete. At one location, they used chainsaws to cut a massive tree that had fallen over and was hung up on another tree; it had to be cut so that it wouldn’t fall on the owner’s or a neighbor’s house. “One man [we helped] was almost joyful—not because of what had happened but because people were helping and taking care of things,” Travis recalled. “Whether they’re believers or not, they are often emotional and always thankful for the help. It’s great to be able to do that.”

team members fellowship

Above: Pastor Mark (right) and Isaiah enjoy working.

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16

dad and daughter

Above: A dad and daughter move boxes together.

Survivors, sometimes devastated, also face emotional struggles. In addition, they are currently facing the double-whammy of the fast-spreading COVID-19 coronavirus, Mark said. “These events give us the opportunity to not only minister to their physical needs but to give them the Gospel. As believers, we know that beyond this there is hope in the Lord, and we can share with them the hope they can have in Jesus.”

man gives Bible

Above: The team leader of Samaritan’s Purse hands out a Bible to a man who nearly lost family heirlooms that were over 100 years old.

Calvary Knoxville is planning regular trips to devastated areas. Travis warned that people’s lives will be affected long after the immediate media attention has passed. “If you’re not able to be here now, you can help rebuilding efforts with Samaritan’s Purse. If you can’t do physical work, pray or help financially,” he urged. To learn more about volunteering, the pastors recommended the Samaritan’s Purse website, Mark exhorted, “We need to be praying for our brothers and sisters in Tennessee. For many, life isn’t going well, and we are to care for their needs.”

bringing comfort

Above: Comforting those who have experienced loss.

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:15-17

Calvary Knoxville, TN

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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