Photo courtesy of Jay Johns

Fondren Church is reaching out to help the community through their Serve Saturdays. This past weekend, their service area extended 100 miles south to help the people of Hattiesburg clean up and rebuild after last weekend’s F4 tornado.

A small crew numbering eight left in the early morning hours with chain saws, non-perishables and willing spirits to serve a community devastated by a storm. Jay Johns, a Fondren Church minister, said the effort is a mandate of their faith. “We want to be a responsive church and act on what we believe,” he said. “It’s not just talk; we want to do what we’re called to do in reflecting Christ. “(We’re called to) get our hands dirty.”

Johns said the scene when they arrived was simply overwhelming. “Your first thought when you enter an environment like this is, ‘Where do you start’?,” he asked. “There was so much damage and so much work to be done.”

Fondren Church was not the only group pitching in. Johns told us the response of the people of Mississippi with their spirit of hospitality and genuine care for another showed big time. “There were volunteer crews and church groups from all over the state cutting fallen trees, clearing rubble and gathering debris,” he said. “Seeing the people of God show love and serve those in need is always a refreshing reminder that God does provide.”

Johns told us the impromptu mission trip came about because of their youthful connection to the college town. “We’re a church of young people,” he told us. “A lot of our college students are from Hattiesburg and this storm has affected them personally.” Fondren Church partnered with Pastor Chad Davis and The Venue Church to organize their efforts.

Closer to home, Fondren Church is planning another Serve Saturday effort this Saturday. John Mark Coon, the church’s ‘local community guy,’ finds projects for volunteers who meet up, this time at Duling Hall (park in the back lot). This edition will work with We Will Go Ministries in downtown Jackson. “The work is often more than we can handle,” Johns explained. “In the past, we’ve done everything from work on homes to businesses, painted or hosed off sidewalks.”

Fondren Church began meeting in May 2011 with evening services at the former Duling School for the first five or six months. The church now holds two Sunday morning services there where they occupy several spaces for classrooms, children’s rooms and offices.

Photo courtesy of Jay Johns


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