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Mississippi church leans on God after tornado

Sometimes, God takes away what you have to give you something better.
It’s a philosophy Shane Meredith and the 60 members of the Caledonia, Miss., church embrace these days.
An outbreak of severe weather Jan. 10 spurred tornadoes from the Southeast to the upper Midwest. Caledonia, a town of about 1,000 people just across the state line from Alabama, was among the hardest hit.
In Caledonia, the winds lifted a school bus onto the roof of a gymnasium and destroyed many other buildings, including the sanctuary and fellowship hall at the church.
Fortunately, no one was killed in Caledonia, but one church member lost everything.
While a physical rebuilding is expected after a storm like this one, the spiritual rebirth of the church’s members has served as an added blessing, said Meredith, the minister for 15 months.
“I think it’s really changed our focus,” Meredith said. “We’re out in the community more, finding out what people need and meeting those needs.”
Meeting the needs of others is just an extension of how God has met the needs of the church while the congregation waits for insurance settlements and rebuilding to begin, the minister said.
Just a few blocks away from the Church of Christ that was destroyed is a vacant Presbyterian Church that the county bought a few years ago, Meredith said.
He approached county officials, and on the Sunday after the tornado, the congregation met in its new, temporary home.
“That really helped us all to stay focused and stick together,” Meredith said. “We didn’t want our people scattering to other churches because we couldn’t meet in ours.”
While surveying the needs of the community, church members found that about four local families lost everything. Many others experienced some degree of loss. So, there’s a need for food and other supplies to help those hardest hit, Meredith said.
But with its own facility destroyed, the Caledonia church had no place to store food and supplies for distribution to those in need. That is, until a local businessman donated use of a storage building to the church for as long as members need it.
“I hope we’ve learned more about what’s really important through all of this,” Meredith said.
One of those lessons is that a church isn’t defined by its building, he said.
“We serve a faithful, loving God who blesses us even in the midst of things like this.”

TO HELP WITH THE RELIEF EFFORT, contact Shane Meredith at (662) 356-6017 or (662) 251-6017 or e-mail [email protected].

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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