Volunteers from Lawn Baptist Church work on Brooke Brandon's home in Matador – Marissa Davis (l-r), Carolyn Jones and Pastor Mark Moore.

Matador pastor 'appreciated the example of servanthood'

Brooke Brandon deals with a number of chronic illnesses that limit her mobility and require her to use a walker. A year ago this month she crouched in her hallway as a tornado ripped off the roof of much of her home in Matador, northeast of Lubbock (below right).

Last week, a Texans on Mission team from Lawn Baptist Church helped Brandon rebuild.

“They did a tremendous amount of work that we had no clue how we were going to get done,” Brandon said. “They were working and sweating in the heat. … It really was humbling and, of course, brought tears to my eyes and my family’s eyes.”

The Lawn Baptist team of 16 included men and women, teenagers and an 8-year-old boy, said Kristi Whitehurst, co-coordinator with her husband Keith of the church’s missions team. The community of Lawn, population 311, is south of Abilene.

Rafael Munoz, who coordinates TXM Rebuild, began communicating with Brandon and others in her extended family last August after the tornado. The family, over the past few months, secured donations and began the process of rebuilding.

They needed labor, and that’s where TXM Rebuild and Lawn Baptist Church came in, Munoz said.

There is still work to be done on the house, but the “Lawn Baptist Church team has turned the appearance of the home around and revived the sense of community in Matador,” Munoz said. The team added new framing, roof decking, sheetrock, ductwork and electrical services.

First Baptist Church in Matador hosted the team from Lawn, providing lunch and dinner plus sleeping space in their building’s Sunday school rooms.

Eddy Helms, pastor in Matador, said he "appreciated the example of servanthood that these people showed to our town. … For them to come and demonstrate their servanthood and their heart was a blessing to us.”

Lawn’s Keith Whitehurst said: “We do it for the glory of our God” and added that “our church is very mission minded.”

Lawn Baptist makes a mission trip every summer. Keith Whitehurst has been participating for 24 years, and the church’s annual effort encourages families to participate, he said. When the Whitehurst kids were ages 7 and 11, they went with their parents on the trip. This year, the teenagers and child came with their parents.

“We like to take the kids with us so we can teach them how to be a servant,” Keith said.

The project in Matador required a lot of sweat. Pastor Helms said: “It was hot. It was 102 one of the days they were on that roof and in the high 90s the other days. I know it was pretty tough on them.”

Kristi Whitehurst said Lawn’s mission trips are “not just about doing a job. It’s about getting to know each other, … sweating alongside the people we go to church with on Sunday morning and getting to know them better. There’s nothing better than that.”

Munoz hopes to put together another TXM team to finish the work, but the volunteer response already has captured the homeowner’s heart.

“I’m a Christian and grew up in church and sang in the praise team,” Brandon said, but being around the Lawn team “has made me want to do volunteer work when I get better,” regarding health.

The three-bedroom, two-bath house is 60 years old and once belonged to Brandon’s grandparents. Then it became the home of her mother, who died a few weeks before last year’s tornado.

Brandon, her sister and cousins grew up in the house. “We did not want to see it leveled or demolished.” Also, “I am disabled, and I have no place to live,” without the house. Since the tornado she has lived with her sister, Amber, in Lubbock.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done” on the house, said Pastor Helms. But the work of the Lawn Baptist team and TXM “was a godsend.”

Melissa Ford and her son, Will, hoist sheetrock.

Water kept the Lawn Baptist Church crew going through the hot weather.