by Rev. Margret Fields* and Vance Morton**
Rancho Brazos is a small community in Hood County. The homes in the community number somewhere around 110 and consist of a mix of Habitat for Humanity houses, trailers and even RV's. Those who live in and around Hood County know all about Rancho Brazos but chances are that unless you’re from “’round here” then Rancho Brazos has not even been a blip on your radar.
Of course, the reality above was dramatically altered in a matter of minutes when an EF-4 tornado ripped through the area in the early evening of Wednesday May 15 – forever changing this small community. For some, their home remained somewhat intact, perhaps a few broken windows and missing shingles. For others, all that remains is a concrete slab and a pile of memories behind it. Those who have insurance will most likely be able to rebuild. Of course, the future is much more uncertain for the many that did not have insurance.
The initial phase for the survivors of a disaster like this is to look for signs of life, to count faces and make sure no one is missing. Soon after comes the inventory of what’s left - where are the pictures and baby's first blanket? And then the thoughts of what to do next and how to regain (at least some portion of) the life he or she had before the storm came.
That is when the realization hits that the car is gone.
Maybe it’s a few houses down or several blocks away. It could be still in the driveway with the neighbor’s oak on top of it. The reality is that most cars do not survive a tornado. And this is a major hurdle for tornado victims to overcome in the process of putting their lives back together.
A car in this part of the world is basically a necessity – especially the further you live from the major metropolitan areas with access to mass transit. A car represents the means in which a person can get their life set back to "normal,” as it is how the kids can get to school, supplies can be gained and, most importantly, people can return to work. For those who lost everything, with or without insurance, it will be difficult to rebuild when money is not coming into the home.
To help ease the burden for these families, Project-44 is setting out to provide a vehicle for every household in the Rancho Brazos area who lost theirs in the storm. The Project-44 team is already has a well-established “Auto Ministry,” so they have the skills and processes. What they need are the automobiles.
In order to meet their goal, Project-44 needs donated vehicles from its Central Texas Conference family. The paperwork takes about five minutes and the donor gets a tax deduction of the full retail value of the car. The best part is that by being the church we share the love of Christ with those who are in the most need.
We are not just providing transportation we are providing hope. Please prayerfully consider helping Project-44 in this unique effort to serve the lost and the least of Hood County. Please contact Margret Fields at 817-313-6916 or Ben Fields at 817-727-2229 to donate. You can also express you interest online via project-44-org.
Project 44 is an outreach mission effort begun by Ben Fields during a time of questioning about his faith and the mission of the church. During this time of questioning, a car was dropped off at the auto repair shop Ben owns in Fort Worth. The car’s owner decided it was too much trouble and told Ben to give it to someone in need. This act lit the fire of Project-44 and was the genesis of the organizations first ministry, the Auto Ministry. Other areas of ministry have developed over the years but their mission of going beyond the four walls of a church to help those in need, where they need it remains the same. To learn more about Project-44 and how you can join the effort, visit project-44.org.
*Margret is the Pastor of Outreach for Acton UMC and a Project-44 board member. firstname.lastname@example.org
**Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference. email@example.com