Joshua Monda had just started his Sunday morning sermon when the sirens started blaring. He and his congregation had known their town of Washington was under a tornado watch, but the actual storm came with little warning.
Monda, who has been pastor of First Baptist in Washington since June, had just taught a Sunday School class about how humanitarian work without the Gospel is just good humanitarian work.
On Monday, he’s practicing what he preached Sunday. After a destructive tornado swept through Washington, killing one person and destroying homes and buildings, Monda posted his cell phone number on Facebook so anyone who needed help could call him.
Standing in a WalMart parking lot waiting to get into still blockaded Washington, Monda’s phone lights up with texts and voice mails. He’s already done two interviews today, and there’s an international media outlet waiting for his call back.
His primary focus is his church and their city. Four families in Monda’s church lost their homes, and one member went to the hospital with minor injuries. As people begin to move back into town, some not knowing what they’ll find, Monda wants to offer his church to help as a refuge center. FBC doesn’t have power yet, but once they do, Monda wants to help meet real needs: meal shelter, a listening ear- whatever people need.
Across the river, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are preparing an evening meal to be delivered by the Red Cross to Washington. Staging at Woodland Baptist in Peoria, they’ll prepare 1,000 chili dinners for tonight, and will continue serving for the next several days.