Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
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This online news website is owned and operated by Becky Watts. The Editor can be reached at 770-468-7583 or at editor(at)PikeCountyTimes(dot)com. Pike County Times is a website for citizens to keep up with local events and stay informed about Pike County government. It began on November 13, 2006 as a watchdog on county government and has turned into an online newspaper.

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Nazarene Youth Group Finds Hope in the Midst of the Rubble

On July 6, 2011, approximately thirty teens and their leaders came down from Gracepointe Nazarene Church to help clean up after the April 28, 2011 tornado. They traveled from Loganville and spent the night on air mattresses at Barnesville Church of the Nazarene in order to get an early start on the morning of July 7, 2011.

One month earlier, Barnesville Nazarene Church Pastor Lonnie Grant had given a presentation at District Assembly where he told how the storm had affected Lamar County, how it had impacted the church and its members, and how the Barnesville Nazarene Church was involved in reaching out to the community. Gracepointe's Youth Leader John Michael McGinnis saw that presentation and called Pastor Lonnie to find out if there was anything that they could do to help.

Pastor Lonnie told them to come down and directed them to help with clean up of the Gunter property. The group went to Grove Street where the Gunter family homes had been located when the tornado struck and began carefully walking through the woods to find anything of value and to clean up debris. Dan Gunter came out to the property while the group was there cleaning up debris, and the group got to pray with him. "He was tearful, but hopeful," said Rhonda McGinnis.

Some of the teens and their leaders picked up wood and put it in a stack for removal. Others looked for items that could still be of value and brought those items to the concrete pad where a house once stood. Meagan Michener and Rhonda McGinnis wanted to look for something a little different.

"For me, memories are what I would want people to look for," said Meagan Michener. They found more than they ever expected. Meagan said that as they began digging through the rubble, they found a wedding ring, many loose photos, and a set of wedding photos.

Pastor Lonnie and the Gracepointe Nazarene group went back to Barnesville Nazarene Church where they later met with Dan Gunter and gave him the recovered items. A majority of the pictures that were found belong to Dan Gunter. The wedding ring that was found belongs to Dan's wife, Lynn. He was very grateful.

"When we gave it to Dan, he just gave one of the best sermons," said Pastor Grant. "He said, 'You just never know. In two minutes... I had it all and two minutes later it was gone.'"

During the course of seven hours of cleaning up debris, some of the teens found a stick in the form of a cross and tied it to the top of the broken tree where an American flag has been waving since the night of the tornado. They also found two large sunflowers growing in the broken trees, and one teen told how he was cleaning up the rubble and was shocked to find a nest full of baby birds.

Two months after a tornado devastated the Barnesville community and took two precious lives, a group of teens and their leaders wanted to show love to a family who had lost so much by cleaning up debris. They found more than they were expecting. They found hope and precious memories in the midst of the rubble.

To read more about the tornado, click here.