Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Christmas 2015 Tornado Relief Efforts

In the early evening of this Christmas Day, a tornado touched down in the western area of the city. Most families were busy with the activities of the day, not paying attention to the news and unaware that the tornado alert system in the targeted area was not operational. Over two hundred homes were damaged and families were displaced. Miraculously, no lives were lost, though more than a dozen homes were entirely destroyed.

Christian Service Mission joined forces with the City of Birmingham, Hopewell Baptist Church, the Red Cross, Believers Temple Church (BTC) and others to assist with immediate relief for the devastated area. Immediately after a crisis like this, things can be really chaotic, but our volunteers were out over their Christmas break to help cover roofs with tarps and remove debris. We are so thankful for all they did, as well as the donations that were so quickly made.

One month later, we can give you a relief effort update. A committee has come together to partner with Project Hopewell (a 501C3) at Hopewell Baptist church, where Pastor Rodgers is senior pastor. Project Hopewell has registered 230 families and homes affected by this tornado. From their rough assessment, about 65% of the families are renters and the remaining families are homeowners. The estimate is that 95% of the homeowners do not have the option for insurance, because the insurance companies generally will not insure homes in this area. 

The City's Community Development Office and Jefferson County have estimated that the total damage is around 2.3 million dollars, and have promised some assistance. FEMA is not at the table, so all these factors create a massive need for the faith community to step in and minister to this under-resourced community.

Project Hopewell Executive Director, Ava Wise, and Herman Henderson (BTC) have stationed themselves at Hopewell since day one. Many partners have stepped up to help over this last month. To date, the funds raised have been approximately $58,000 and expenses have been approximately $8,000. The next step is to get the case management underway so that the needs can be identified and prioritized, and then mobilize these partnerships to meet the needs.

Volunteer With Us!
Project Hopewell and BTC will mobilize volunteers on January 30th from 1:30-3:30 to continue the clean-up work. We have 400 teens coming to help from Shades Mt. Baptist Church. On February 6th from 10-2, Hunter Street Baptist Church will send 200 teens to help with the clean-up. Please consider joining with us on these volunteer days of service. Hopewell Baptist Church is the gathering site for both volunteer work dates:  4817 Jefferson Avenue SW | Birmingham | 35221

If your church or organization would like to be a part of the rebuilding of this devastated community, please contact CSM. We will keep you informed. Please join with us in prayer for this community. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

You Did It!

You all knocked it out of the park during our annual campaign! Our goal was $75,000 and you raised $114,492. We are humbled and amazed at your generosity and God's great provision. We are so excited about being able to serve more people and connect more resources to needs in 2016. 
Soli Deo Gloria!

Jackson home: from slab to roof in one week!

During the April 2011 tornadoes, a massive tree fell into the Jackson’s house, ripping through the walls of the back bedroom. The Jacksons were taking shelter in their home at the time! The tree should have crushed the house and them inside, but miraculously, it didn't. Their lives were spared, and they knew that God had protected them. They were unsure how to get the tree out of the house and did not have the insurance coverage adequate for the tree removal and house repair. 

Over time the continued water damage caused extensive problems throughout the home. Thankfully, our Housing Ministry and CSM volunteers were able to tear down and rebuild the home for the Jackson’s with funds from a program with the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless (ARCH).

On January 9th of this year, the Samford Track and Field team and volunteers from Shades Mountain Baptist Church raised the exterior walls in less than four hours! It's amazing to see what can happen when many hands come together to accomplish the task.

You may remember that this past Fall, volunteers from Redeemer Lutheran in Damascus, Maryland built these exteriors walls here at our Ministry Center workshop so that they would be ready to assemble when it was time.

This past week, our friends from Redeemer Lutheran came back down to help us finish the interior walls, rafters, roof, and shingles— and they accomplished the big goal all in one week!

A Note From Tracy Hipps

The Christian Service Mission wants to thank you for your support this last year. We are continuing to clarify our roles for relief and development. CSM relief efforts serve the least of these, along with the help of over 30 ministry partners, by providing food and other resources that help them better their daily lives. CSM development efforts equip our partners to love, serve and connect with the greater need of permanent life change.

This last year we were able to serve with the City to help with relief for the flooding in South Carolina, sending two 53-foot trucks packed with supplies. The recent tornados in West Birmingham continues to be a challenge with 213 home effected. We have helped provide resources and critical help to those in need with you, our partners. Read more about that in this newsletter.

We have spent most of our time in the development of healthier communities. First, in partnership with the Church to see more people reached with the gospel of Christ through outreach. Then through our other ministries of food, housing and here at our CSM ministry center, we have seen thousands touched with the gospel both with word and deeds.

We remain focused on equipping our partners with resources and tools to share the gospel, spread the gospel and live out the gospel of Christ. Thank you again for the impact we have been able to make together.

Together we serve,


Food Ministry: Feeding Seniors

CSM partners with several agencies and groups here in the city. One of those groups is Princeton Towers, a senior citizens living facility located in the Western area of Birmingham. This facility houses over 150 residents. Most of the residents are on fixed incomes, so any assistance they can get during the month is always helpful.

Recently, we were able to bless these dear people with an abundance of fresh produce, dairy products, pastries and bread. According to the Resident Coordinator, Janet Graham, the residents were lined up and down the hall waiting patiently to get some of the goodies that we had donated. We are excited that we were able to be a blessing to our friends at Princeton Towers. 

This is just one of the many ways we are connecting resources to needs in Birmingham.

Volunteer Spotlight: UCONN

In mid-January we had the opportunity and privilege to host a group of 54 students from the University of Connecticut! This group was in Birmingham for a week-long "Alternative Winter Break" trip and volunteered their time with four local ministries during their stay. We were fortunate enough to have them for two of their five days here in town and they were very helpful in the gardens, the food ministry and in helping us to organize donations in the warehouse.

On top of all of the work they did with us, we were also able to squeeze in a couple of "Warehouse Scavenger Hunts" and a game or two of hide-n-seek! No one can ever accuse the CSM staff or the students from UCONN of being the "all work and no play" type! We had a great time serving together with this wonderful group from Connecticut and hope to have them, and many other groups like them, back to the warehouse in the near future! Thanks Huskies!