Faith and church still helping lead tornado response in Joplin
The Joplin Family Worship Center has collected more than $5 million in donations from across the country.
August 19th, 2011
03:28 PM ET

Faith and church still helping lead tornado response in Joplin

By Ninette Sosa, CNN

Joplin, Missouri (CNN) - On May 22, this blue-collar town on the edge of the Ozark Mountains was dealt the most deadly tornado since modern record-keeping on twisters began in 1950. The tornado killed 150 and injured more than 1,000.

After the disaster, the parking lot at the Joplin Family Worship Center became a donation center geared toward helping tornado victims.

The church has more than 7,000 volunteers who have served thousands of people with everything from food, to clothing to appliances. Tractor-trailers with supplies totaling more than $5-million have dropped off donations from around the country.

"They're able to shop for clothing themselves, it’s all free,” says Charity Bethke, a Joplin Family Worship Center. “If they need furniture or appliances they can go to our tents outside to get those bigger items.”

Bethke considers herself blessed for many reasons: not only does she have a job where she feels fulfilled by helping people - her home was unscathed by the tornado.

“Our side of town is picture perfect, it's beautiful,” she said. “But when you drive through the affected area it's literally like a big scar across our city.”

"There's no logical explanation why we're alive," said Patsy Harbottle, a volunteer at the Joplin Family Worship Center.

During the tornado, Harbottle’s house blew up around her while she and her husband were huddled in a closet. At one point she was lifted off the ground.

"As odd as this sounds, when I was floating I became relaxed and peaceful and I know that was the peace of God," she said.

Harbottle and her husband survived with only minor injuries and today Harbottle is helping others while also rebuilding her own life.

And while Joplin still has a lot of rebuilding to do, Bethke said that she and her husband have noticed new signs of life in the hardest hit area. Trees that had been stripped of their bark by the tornado are now blooming. “There’s green life coming from bare trees,” she said.

Patsy Harbottle shared her story in this podcast from CNN Radio.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Missouri

soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Mireiap Domingay

    If you desire to increase your know-how just keep visiting this web site and be updated with the newest gossip posted here.

    July 13, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  2. GPS tracking reviews

    Wonderful website. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

    April 21, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  3. Naomi

    Kids bully each other like a hell. No wonder grown-ups war.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Muneef

    War between Nations and war among the people
    "To be defeated is pardonable; to be surprised – never!" (Napoleon)

    The move from the potential “wars between nations” of the second half of the 20th century to the “wars among the people” at the beginning of the 21st century has a profound impact on defence industry.
    As the t-i-tle of this article indicates, in order to avoid being taken by surprise by the next war, defence contractors must not anticipate either wars between nations OR wars among the people, but rather wars between nations AND wars among the people. 


    August 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Reality

      And who funds this muck and stench of Islamic global terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  5. John


    August 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • .....

      This SPAM and complete junk don't bother viewing instead click the report abuse link to get rid of this pathetic TROLL!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  6. Naomi

    The Christian Church is good and victorious always. Americans should pay tax to the Church for all the priceless benefits they received from her.

    August 23, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  7. Reality

    "Faith and church still helping lead tornado response in Joplin."

    Actually as normal in large natural disasters, it is the USA taxpayers who are leading and paying the way in Joplin.

    August 23, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  8. Naomi

    The Word of God:
    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John chapter 3)

    August 23, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  9. Muneef

    Religion: Fools for Christ
    Monday, May 24, 1948

    "All our talk about peace and the weapons of the spirit is meaningless unless we try in every way to embrace voluntary poverty and not work in any position, any job that contributes to war . . . We must give up our place in this world, sacrifice children, family . . . And we will be considered fools for Christ."

    * Corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbor the harborless, visit the sick, ransom the captive, and bury the dead. Spiritual works of mercy: to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afilicted, and pray for the living and the dead.


    August 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Muslims, fools of a dark-age religion:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,483 and 925 in non combat roles. 99,901 – 109,143 Iraqi civilians killed as of 3/3/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,141 killed in action, 242 killed in non-combat situations as of 03/03/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      August 23, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  10. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    Gods will was done with the tornado. Everything happens for a reason such as small children smash and torn to bits. Why are people getting involved?

    August 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The ways of god are not fathomable to man. A child is sacred to humans. To god, not so much.


      August 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Reality

    "Faith and church still helping lead tornado response in Joplin."

    Actually an normal in large natural disasters, it is the USA taxpayer who is leading the way in Joplin.

    For example.

    "Two Months After the Joplin Tornado: Disaster Recovery Efforts in Missouri Continue

    Release Date: July 22, 2011
    Release Number: 1980-128

    » More Information on Missouri Severe Storms, Tornadoes, And Flooding

    COLUMBIA, Mo. – Two months after the devastating EF-5 tornado ripped through the peaceful city of Joplin, disaster recovery efforts remain in full swing. State and federal disaster a-ssistance has increased $26 million this month, totaling over $41 million for residents and businesses in the counties of Jasper and Newton.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is only part of a large team that continues to bring resources to as-sist a community in its response and recovery efforts. This team includes coordinated efforts between federal, state, local, non-profit, private sector and faith-based organizations.

    "It takes many agencies, government and private, as well as many individuals, to help a community and its citizens recover from a disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer Libby Turner. "Missourians have demonstrated from day one that they are ready to do whatever it takes to help one another not only survive the Joplin tornado but to thrive over the long run."

    As of today, 60 days after the Joplin tornado disaster, more than 690 federal and state employees from across the country are working to meet the needs of more than 10,200 Jasper and Newton disaster survivors who have registered for as-sistance. This number is expected to increase before the July 29, 2011 registration deadline. Additionally, federal and state specialists continue to provide as-sistance to local governmental enti-ties that suffered extensive damages to their infrastructure facilities.

    A critical recovery mission, the removal of debris, continues in full force through the close collaboration between local, state and federal agencies. During the 46 days of debris removal operations managed by the court engineers, nearly 1.3 million cubic yards – 68 percent – of debris has been removed from the Joplin area, at an average rate of 27,684 cubic yards per day. This number does not include debris removal by private contractors, individual property owners and volunteers. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has collected more than 95,000 items of household hazardous waste, white goods and electronic equipment from the Joplin tornado debris.

    Over the course of the week following the May 22 disaster, a multi-tude of volunteer resources, agencies and personnel sprung into action. Together with local and community officials, the city of Joplin, the state of Missouri, the Missouri Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), the Governor's Faith-based and Community Service Partnership for Disaster Recovery and FEMA continues to work to coordinate the as-sembly and movement of critical emergency supplies, medical aid and disaster relief.

    Volunteer efforts have included the opening and operation of two shelters managed by the American Red Cross and a Volunteer Reception Center managed by members of AmeriCorps, which has processed more than 45,000 volunteers. In just two month's time, volunteers have worked more than 301,000 hours. Disaster recovery volunteers have also included players, coaches and staff from the NFL St. Louis Rams, who helped with cleanup efforts in Joplin. The team also recorded public service announcements with FEMA to promote community preparedness and encourage survivors to apply for disaster as-sistance at 1-800-621-FEMA.

    Another community partner, the Missouri Humane Society, helped create and run a shelter that allowed survivors to identify their pets and provided accommodations for the pets whose owners had no place to keep them. To date, more than 500 pets have been reunited with their human companions, thanks to the efforts of the Joplin Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). These two organizations sheltered more than 1,300 animals through June 25-26, 2011, when a two-day adopt-a-thon was held; 739 adoptions were made during the fee-waived event.

    Federal, state and local officials have also teamed up with the Independent Living Center and other disability organizations to serve as a resource for individuals with disabilities, access and other functional needs. Through focused disability integration efforts in Missouri, FEMA continues to take steps to ensure the whole community – including people with functional needs, seniors and those with low English proficiency – has the same opportunity to benefit from disaster as-sistance programs."


    August 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • JA

      Let's all congratulate Reality, because his taxpayer dollar was spent in Joplin.... *clapping my hands*....

      August 22, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  12. HeavenSent

    Our loving, personally god sent us these tornados plus tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and cancers and other diseases too numerous to mention that attack innocents and sinners alike. Let's thank our as-shole of a god for these fine gifts and all the horrid suffering that they cause.


    August 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • David Johnson

      God sends these calamities, that His people may be drawn to Him. This is much like the abusive father, that smacks around his family, that they might love him all the more.

      Disasters and Parasites and Pathogens and Birth defects only seem cruel. It is because we are looking at them with our carnal mind.


      August 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  13. jimtanker

    What's even better than helping your fellow man for religious reasons is to just help them for humanitarian reasons. Leave the god that supposedly create the tornado, or at least let it happen, out.

    Free your mind and your life will follow.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • Free

      Yes, help people because it's the right thing to do, not something aimed at appeasing, or even pleasing some power that you fear.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • SecularTruther

      Here here free

      August 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "Yes, help people because it's the right thing to do, not something aimed at appeasing, or even pleasing some power that you fear."

      Nothing wrong with double dipping! Do what's right, for right's sake. Making god happy with you is a perk!


      August 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Believe in whatever I say and be my companion in misery.

      I'll promise to make you're life as miserable and hellish as mine.
      That's what I like.

      We can be awesome groupies. That's what I like it.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:49 am |
1 2
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.