Risk Taking Ministry
Eight units at the East Ridge Apartments in Fairfield were destroyed by fire on March 11, 2013. Fire fighters from Teague, Fairfield and Dew responded to fight the flames. Several pastors and lay members of local churches mobilized to care for the families displaced by the fire.
As I put away my cell phone for the 10th time trying to call him about responding to this local disaster, I looked up to see Rev. Alan Van Hooser, pastor of FUMC Teague walking toward me in full fire fighting gear. Alan had arrived aboard the Teague Volunteer Fire Department truck and had been in the building fighting the fire.
Rev. Van Hooser began his relationship with the Teague Volunteer Fire Department three years ago when he moved to First United Methodist Church, Teague. The church is just across the street from the fire station so Alan offered to help on several occasions. He soon learned that fire fighters are a close-knit community. "These folks aren't your average church types. They are actually pretty suspicious of those who want to help without standing in the fire. I knew that I had been accepted when they presented me with a chaplain's badge. Also, when they quit calling me sir and began busting my chops any time they had a chance. I genuinely care about these men and women and they are generous to take of care me back," says Rev. Van Hooser.
Becoming a volunteer fire fighter requires many hours of training and is a real commitment of time and money. Some equipment is purchased by the firefighters themselves, boots, flashlights, gloves and other personal gear. "In order to reach this close-knit community you really have to become part of the group. Real risk taking ministry means meeting people where they are - doing what ever it takes to earn the right to witness to them in their context. It means becoming the person God needs us to be. And that is a personal risk."
"Community response is more than just Gatorade and sandwiches. When the spouses, girlfriends, churches and neighbors bring water, sandwiches and help move salvaged furniture, it is highly energizing and even humbling. You know that what you do matters to them," said Rev. Alan Van Hooser. Local church members brought in chairs, a pop up tent, water and food for the families and the fire fighters. Round Prairie Baptist Church, across the street from the apartments, opened their Family Life Center to the Red Cross and Displaced families. Others provided trailers and trucks to move salvaged items from the fire scene to local storage.
The Red Cross has extended emergency assistance to the families. This assistance is only enough to meet basic needs for five days (estimate). Several families are being assisted by their own churches and others have been "adopted" by local churches.
For more information contact:
T. Paul Kethley
First United Methodist Church