The Weesners were enjoying a relaxing Sunday evening together in front of the television. The Dallas Cowboys were up big against the rival Philadelphia Eagles. Everything was good. Until it wasn’t.

“We were watching the Cowboys game like most people,” Jay Weesner said. “Our friend called and told us to take cover, so we pulled out our weather app. That’s when someone called and said, ‘I think it’s on your street.’ We grabbed our socks, shoes, batteries, we even put on bike helmets and went to the center of the house.”

An EF-3 with winds up to 140 miles per hour, one of three that blew threw North Texas, blasted the Weesners’ Richardson home moments later. It sounded like a “freight train,” Jay said. Then the couple heard pieces of their roof being pried off bit by bit.

Within minutes, everything was silent again. Darkness surrounded them, preventing them from seeing all the damage. Only in the morning did they realize the full extent of what happened. New faces were moving up and down the street.

“I see Texas Baptist Men,” he said. “This is serious. We have major devastation because these guys show up when there’s trouble. Then I looked up and down the street and see houses destroyed.”

TBM’s rapid response chainsaw team began clearing his street shortly after sunrise and had most of the Weesners’ yard cleared by lunch. After that, they began working on the couple’s neighbors up and down the block.

Fallen 60-70-foot-tall trees, overturned sport utility vehicles and various debris are bunched in nearly every yard of the Weesners’ neighborhood. In between sawing and moving 100-pound logs, volunteers visited with homeowners to help them process what they experienced. TBM team members prayed with people affected by the storms.

“The Dallas tornado tore a hole in our hearts as it ripped through the city,” said TBM Executive Director/CEO Mickey Lenamon. “It rocked people’s world. This morning, we’re providing help, hope and healing in Jesus’ name to people and families affected by this tragedy.”

The team of volunteers is the first wave of TBM ministry after the tornado. It was followed by a second chainsaw team as well as the activation of its rapid response feeding team to feed in the Bachman Lake area of Dallas.

TBM collaborated with Buckner International Tuesday to feed lunch to more than 200 children and their parents served by the Buckner Family Hope Center at Bachman Lake. Volunteers served warm, healthy meals to the families at Jose “Joe” May Elementary School, many of whom live in a nearby apartment complex.

“We got a call from Buckner about 7 a.m. and we have the rapid-response unit we use in Texas that feeds good, hot meals and so we put together a meal of hamburgers, beans and rice,” Lenamon said. “It’s a high-protein meal because this is the only meals these kids may get today.” 

Marcela Dominguez, youth and children specialist for the Buckner Family Hope Center, said the group already was in need due to poverty. TBM and Buckner both are affiliated with Texas Baptists. Buckner has been serving the Bachman Lake community for three years, and will officially open the Buckner Family Hope Center at Bachman Lake in early 2020. The Hope Center provides programs and services like GED and ESL classes, financial empowerment and family coaching to 4,000 families in the Bachman Lake community.

“These are children who normally rely on free school lunches but are without due to school closures from the tornado. Many of these families are without power and many had homes damaged by the storm.”

Lenamon said the damage in the Bachman Lake area “is a lot worse than you think it is. I watched it on Sunday night on television, but we have cleaning crews and chainsaw crews out in the area right now and it’s serious. And, since this neighborhood is more economically challenged, there’s more need.”

TBM teams jumpstart the recovery process for each homeowner they help.

“When these guys show up and get out and they are able to share this ministry – we’re talking about hard serious labor here, this is big time ministry here,” Weesner said.

“They’re here to build up the joys and live through the sorrows. I can’t thank them enough.”

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