Rev. Scott Ward is the pastor of Littleville UMC in the Northwest District, located northwest of the Town of Haleyville. Just 15 miles away, the town of Phil Campbell took a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado on April 27, 2011. On that dark day, Ward’s mother-in-law, Renee Berry, died during the storm.
Two of Ward’s family members were injured. His sister-in-law, Amanda Johns, survived the tornado while five months pregnant. His brother-in-law sustained significant injuries as well. After being released from the hospital after two months, Amanda stayed with Ward until her baby boy, Kaden, was born in September. Kaden is better known to the family as “Stormy.”
“In our family’s darkest moments of last year, our church focused themselves on us. They were bringing food, praying and helping us in every way,” says Ward.
Since April 27, 2011, the Ward family and Littleville UMC have been working to rebuild Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, from helping with the United Methodist Store in Hackleburg to making health kits for the two towns to volunteering in disaster warehouses in Haleyville.
Ward’s wife petitioned her company, Exxell Outdoors, to donate 30 sleeping bags to the North Alabama Conference Disaster Recovery Team for volunteer teams to use when they visit Alabama.
Littleville UMC has continued serving their neighbors and has begun helping the Northwest District Disaster Recovery team, led by Rev. Eric Bell. The church will be landscaping a new home in Phil Campbell and installing plumbing in newly framed homes in Hackleburg and Phil Campbell.
“Our church family is simply using their God-given gifts to help others… But, we’re not doing anything special; just trying to let the light of Christ shine from our lives. A lot of people think that you have to go to a foreign country to do mission work, but our church has found plenty of mission work in our own area. It’s great to see churches from all over the country coming to help those in need,” says Ward.
Ward wants to see more local churches involved in similar work. He says, “It’s sad to see many of our own local churches not taking advantage of the mission work in their own back yard.”
Local teams may volunteer for week-long service or for one day (Saturdays) in various areas of the North Alabama Conference. Visit rebuildnorthalabama.org for more details.