By WILL HIGHTOWER
S.T.O.R.M. Ministry, a group led by several youth ministers in the area, is continuing relief efforts for victims of the April 27 tornadoes.
“S.T.O.R.M. started out of a group of youth ministers coming together after we saw the need for helping hands all around the state,” Brookwood Baptist youth minister Caleb Yoder said. “We had all been involved in different places doing different things, and we just felt as though we could unite and come together and not only get more done but bring our groups together.”
Scattered relief efforts began immediately after the tornados struck at several Mountain Brook churches, but youth ministers realized the best way to help was under one unified ministry.
“Cameron Cole had the idea to get us all together, to get us to work together,” said Zach Skipper, leader of Bigtime Ministries. “Another local minister and I had taken some guys into Pleasant Grove in the early days right after the storm. Cameron understands that God calls churches to work together, and so we all joined forces and said, ‘Let’s do this every Wednesday as a community.”
The group is going to areas affected by the tornado each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to try to restore a sense of normalcy to the people who lost so much.
Cole, who is the youth minister at Cathedral Church of the Advent, said previous relief work spurred his idea for S.T.O.R.M.
“We had experience with serving in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and we saw that the media attention died down even though they still needed help,” Cole said. “So with that experience, once we saw the tornados come through, we immediately started thinking long-term. We wanted to be loyal and follow through to the end. We chose the summer because students in our ministries have time to serve and also because the media crowds would dissipate.”
Yoder re-emphasized the long-term goal of the ministry. “The relief effort will not end in a summer or a year,” Yoder said. “What will help is a group of people who will be consistent throughout the years. We want to be that.”
“We are seeking to invest in a specific area and be consistent in that area so that we can build relationships and, above all, model how Christ loved us,” Cole said. “Christ is constantly seeking us and loving us and it is our goal to model him.”
S.T.O.R.M.’s leaders are getting the word out about their trips online. The group’s Facebook page has 247 members that receive updates on the efforts. To get involved, find the “S.T.O.R.M. Ministry” group on Facebook or contact any of the leaders of the churches involved.