-“We are praying and will be sending help in every way we can,” the president of the Missouri Baptist Convention said in the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin that killed 116 or more people May 22 in a state already heavy leaden with Mississippi River flooding.

John Marshall, president of the Missouri convention and pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, urged the state’s Baptists “to seek out ways to work with Missouri disaster relief efforts, or to contact a sister church in the Joplin area to give aid through. May God help the people of Joplin.”

Wanda Shellenbarger, MBC women’s ministry leader and a member of First Baptist Church in Carl Junction near Joplin, reported that Harmony Heights Baptist Church was destroyed along with the high school across the street and that a second church, Empire Baptist, also was leveled. Three were killed when the tornado hit Harmony Heights.

“We’ve had massive destruction and devastation here,” said Shellenbarger, who works part-time for an engineering firm. At least six of her co-workers lost their homes, she said, and one employee may have been killed in a rescue attempt.

“Please pray for all of us as we minister to so many hurting people,” Shellenbarger said. “God can use even this type of thing to reach more for Him.”

May 23 was devoted to search and rescue efforts in the city of about 50,000 people. Missouri Baptists’ disaster relief coordinator Rick Seaton said regional DR leader Ron Crow, pastor of First Baptist Church in Diamond, was on site along with Steve Patterson, director of missions for the Spring River Baptist Association helping citizens as much as they could.

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