I was born in Tyler, Texas, but we moved to Joplin, Missouri before I was turned 1 and spent the next 26 years there. Make no mistake about it, I am from Joplin, Missouri.
I grew up in Joplin. I learned lots of ropes in Joplin. I got my foundation in Joplin. I went to 3 area schools there. I have a mother, brother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins that live there. Some of my best friends live there.
The first several chapters of my story were written in Joplin. I didn’t start in Nashville. Much of how my life has evolved and the person I have become have strong ties to the 26 years I was a part of the local community of Joplin, Missouri.
The 8 years I spent working in the music industry, living in Nashville and Texas, and all the experiences and relationships I have from that season of my life sprung out of the seed of a passion for music and a little music website I used to run as a hobby from my bedroom in the Joplin area.
This past weekend I literally went from one of the most high, exhilarating moments of my life to one of the most surreal, frightening and helpless moments of my life within a 24 hour period. I had just flown back to Nashville from having spent the previous few days in Denver, and seeing U2 in concert the night before. Then, just about 5 minutes before 7pm on Sunday, May 22… 5 minutes before I was about to step onstage at the Stretch Young Adult Community Group I help lead at Cross Point Church… still quite reeling from the experience the night before and tired from the complete absence of sleep… I clicked on Twitter and saw the news about the tornado hitting Joplin.
I immediately got my mom on the phone and she sounded frantic. She said it was horrible, that my aunts house was completely gone and my brother’s house was largely destroyed. I can’t adequately describe that moment well enough to do it justice. It was in this emotional whirlwind that I got onstage a minute later and did what I needed to do to lead and facilitate the group of 100 or so who had come that night. And not even being able to imagine the horror that my family and friends were experiencing at that very moment, I asked them to please pray.
We’ve all been inundated with images, video and news reports about the mass destruction that happened that night. The current fatality count is at 124. This is the deadliest single U.S. tornado in over 60 years.
The picture at the top of this post was taken from the foundation of my where my aunt’s house used to be, facing her back yard. And you can see… for what seems like miles. If you look closely just about in the middle of the picture, you can see storm-ravaged St John’s hospital, which has gotten much media attention, way off in the distance. But it looks like there is nothing between the rubble and the hospital. Nothing.
As I was leaving the church that night, my phone was blowing up with Twitter, texts, calls, facebook, emails, voicemails, you name it. It was a barrage of real life that I had never had to navigate and could only pray, and almost breathlessly ask God, “please. help.” That was a harrowing drive home. My family experienced loss but they are all safe, as are my close friends. But they are shaken and life will never be the same for them.
The church where I am on staff, Cross Point Church, in Nashville, has become, by necessity, well versed in disaster relief response. I was personally there at the church, ready to volunteer for the day’s services, the morning the historic Nashville flood went from bad to worse and I saw the leadership team immediately spring into action with plan to act. Over the coming days, weeks and months, Cross Point would pour both volunteers by the thousands and funds by the multiple tens of thousands (if not more) into the Nashville community as they became the hands and feet of Christ to their neighbors.
As it turns out, Cross Point has many personal staff connections to the Joplin area and before I could even get into the office Monday morning I was getting calls and texts about how they could help. As soon as I got in the office, I began meeting with Ryan Bult, Cross Point’s missions pastor, and Blake Bergstrom, Cross Point’s Nashville campus pastor, about getting a plan in place to help.
EVERYONE can PRAY // MANY can GIVE // SOME can GO
For those who can GO, this Sunday, May 29, Blake Bergstrom and I will be leading a team of volunteers from Cross Point and traveling to Joplin to provide support to the people of that community. Having moved to Nashville almost 9 years ago to the day that the tornado hit, I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to me to now have the opportunity to not only go back to Joplin, but to help lead a team of friends from my church, to be the church and do what we do… love and support the people of the community that first shaped me. To see my current community of friends rally to support me and my hometown in this way is overwhelming and humbling.
The significance of this moment is not lost on me.
That’s why Joplin matters.
To those who have become a part of my story and invested into my life and who I have become or have been impacted in any way through some way God has used me or worked through my life very much in spite of me over the past 9 years since I left Joplin…
if I matter to you, then Joplin matters to you.
I am asking for your prayers for that community and your support. How can you help us at Cross Point help Joplin?
Thank you for your love, prayers and support for the people of Joplin.