May 5, 2003

Texas Baptist Men fly to Venus for aid
___By John Hall
___Texas Baptist Communications
___Volunteers from the Texas Baptist Men Tarrant County unit prepared meals for as many as 150 Venus citizens displaced from their homes by high winds.
___The team of seven prepared 2,750 meals April 25-28 from First Baptist Church in Alvarado and worked in conjunction with the Red Cross. Another 150 meals were sent to the site of an Abilene apartment fire.
___People were working feverishly to gather their belongings and repair their homes after the storm, said Aubrey Mathis, coordinator of the unit.
___Meteorologists continue investigating whether the damage was caused by a tornado or powerful straight winds. They noticed some circulation in the area on radar, but it seemed too large to indicate a tornado. However, the damage pattern appeared spotty--clearing almost an entire trailer park while missing nearby neighborhoods--seemingly indicating a tornado.
___The cause does not matter to those whose homes were destroyed, said John Valentine, minister of education at First Baptist Church in Alvarado. Whether it was a tornado or simply strong winds, they are hurting now.
___Area residents, including Alvarado church members, have pitched in to help people put their homes back together.
___Valentine said he is grateful no one died and few were injured in the tragedy. He believes the church can use this time as a window to work in people's lives.
___"All we hope for is to minister to people and opportunities to share the gospel."

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