Posted by: Caleb | May 31, 2011

for the least of these (or: how to help joplin)

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:34-40

A lot of people have asked me what they can do to help my parents in recovering from the tornado that destroyed their home last week.  I’ve struggled more than I care to admit coming up with something to tell you; the truth is, a lot of people have it much worse than my parents.  The blessings that God has bestowed upon my parents, not the least of which is simply that they survived, is nothing short of awe-inspiring; they truly have some of the best friends in the world, and I thank God that they can help in areas like lodging and food, areas in which my ability to help is limited, at best.  In consideration of this, I would ask of those that want to help consider the other thousands of people who need help just as much as my parents, and many, many who need it more.

All of these places to donate I can vouch for; your donation will not be misappropriated, or spent/used in a way you would not appreciate or with which you would not agree.

First, there’s my parents’ church, Forest Park Baptist Church; they have a warehouse-type structure on their property that, last week, was filled with everyday items (such as shoes, toilet paper, and shampoo), and people were encouraged to walk through and just take what they needed.  On their web site, there are links to follow to donate money and supplies to the relief effort.

Second, there is another church in town, College Heights Christian Church, which is where I went to school from 2nd grade through high school.  Their entire building was filled with supplies, much like Forest Park’s warehouse, and people were to take whatever they needed.  On their website, they have much of the same information concerning where to send aid.

There are also various charitable organizations that are active in serving Joplin, including Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that sent a team of volunteers to help my parents clear away debris from their house.  There’s also Service International, which is based here in St. Louis; this is the organization that has done a lot of relief work in helping victims of the Good Friday tornados here at home.  And, of course, there is the trusty, tried-and-true American Red Cross.

The next suggestion I would make is concerning physical involvement. I’ve heard several people say things like, “I wish I could go and help.” To this, I would reply, “Why can’t you?” There are so many places you can contact, including either of the churches above, to set up a time to show up and do work. If you’re hesitant because you don’t know where to go or who to call, go here. Click on the “I want to give to meet a need” button, and go through the prompts to find out where to give financially, who to contact in order to volunteer, and where to donate resources. Also, you can “register” for the Boomtown Days race, which has been converted to a day of service to the city of Joplin. The blessings you can give others is well worth the time away from work, or home, or whatever you have to give up to help someone who so desperately needs it.

The last thing I would ask is that you remember Joplin in a month.  Go to your calendar, flip forward a month, and make a note to look again for ways to help; there are so many people in Joplin right now that don’t have anything but the clothes on their backs and the few belongings people (often complete strangers) have given them.  They are jobless, homeless, and hopeless. They need our help, and they will need it just as much in the months and years to come.

And remember, the point of helping these people is not to bring about glory to any of us.

The point is to bring glory and honor to God.

This storm was meant for evil, but God meant it for good. Come, let us be His instruments.

UPDATE: If you’ve used any of the tools I talked about up above, leave a comment and tell me about it! I’d love to hear some stories from you, and I’d love to be able to share them with others, too.


  1. Caleb, I live in North Texas and had the privilege of meeting your sister and mother while working at Mission Joplin all last week. They are both lovely. Just wanted reiterate what you said about helping Joplin. Much has been done. There is much more to do. Many organizations are helping in many different ways. There appears to be an influx of volunteers coming on the weekends, so if anyone is able to come during the week, I believe that is when the volunteer need is greatest. Thank you for sharing the video.

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