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Tim Pride and the Blue Shirt People
May 10th, 2024  |  by

“When are the Blue Shirt people coming back?” is a question our Operation Recovery team in Western Kentucky gets on a regular basis. The people of Princeton are referring to a disaster recovery team led by Tim Pride from Mt Carmel Christian Church in Ohio. During their Western Kentucky trips, Mt Carmel was joined by Parkside Christian and Community Christian, making up a group of over 80 volunteers wearing matching blue shirts, AKA the “Blue Shirt People.”

Relief work is the immediate response to a disaster, while recovery is the rebuilding process after the initial clean-up is complete. Mt Carmel’s recovery teams usually start working in an area six months to a year after the initial disaster. Tim has led trips all over the country to help with disaster recovery. “I don’t know how I ever came about leading these trips,” admits Tim, “but it’s been fun to see how it impacts us. We think we are going to impact others, but we are the ones who are blessed. It is very humbling, very rewarding.”   

In 2022 Mt Carmel participated in a Help Build Hope event in Western KY while on their mission trip!
Using their skills

This group is not only unique due to their dedication to recovery, but also the amount of skill, hard work, and compassion they bring to the mission field. “Our church is a lot of blue collar workers,” shared Tim. These church members “invite their coworkers [on the mission trip], and that’s how they get connected to our church. Which is a pretty neat thing.” Tim went on to share many examples of individuals getting connected to the church through missions. There is an elder at the church who is a professional contractor, and he brings a whole crew on the trip each year. On a previous trip, the HVAC worker who repaired the church’s own system in Ohio asked to join their trip. 

Because of the large number of skilled and unskilled volunteers, Mt Carmel’s trips are able to accomplish a lot during one week. “Our scope of projects was really broad,” explained Aaron Adams, Group Minister at Mt Carmel. “We had three Habitat for Humanity homes being framed up, we had people doing drywall, electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, painting, grinding tree stumps, hauling out brush – it was all of the above.” Many of these skilled projects also require specific tools that Mt Carmel brings with them. On their last trip, a tool they had never used on a mission trip before was requested: chainsaws.

God’s Plan

The reaction to this request was hesitant, but the group decided to put their own agendas aside and do whatever was asked of them. “A lot of times when you go on these trips, you have it in your mindset what you anticipate you are going to be doing,” shared team member Tim Wahl. “But oftentimes it is just showing up and being willing and available. When you are being the hands and feet of Jesus, you don’t put yourself in a box and say ‘this is what I am going to do,’ you put yourself out there and say ‘Lord whatever you need me to do that’s what I want to do and that’s what I am here to do.’” It turned out that God had a special plan for those chainsaws. 

Throughout the week, the group was working around stormy weather. One day the weather was so severe that Tim sent the volunteers back to the church to stay safe and dry. That storm created a tornado that struck just nine miles south of where the teams were working. Tim got a call from a local magistrate he had met earlier in the day asking for help cutting down trees and tarping roofs. “Everyone was showered and relaxing when we got the call,” explained Tim, “and no one complained or worried about eating or anything – they all got back on the road within five minutes. Within two hours we had the tree cut up and the roof tarped, which is unbelievable.” 

It turned out that chainsaws were exactly the tool that was needed for that particular week, and God made sure the mission team was equipped for the work. Even though they thought their job was to grind tree stumps, the plan was so much greater. “The very next day the stump grinders stopped working,” continued Tim. “It was like God was saying ‘alright I used you for what I needed, now you can go back to building.’”

Clearing debris from the tornado that passed south of Princeton during Mt Carmel’s mission trip
Coming Home

Building is the primary project on these trips, and the volunteers that came on the trip in 2022 made some valuable connections to homeowners they worked with. Mission team members continue to check in with these families throughout the year, and several have even asked to join a mission trip in the future. 

One of those connections is Katie and Caleb, a couple that Dylan, Coordinator for Western KY, knew from school. Their home was severely damaged, and even though Caleb is a contractor he couldn’t do all the renovations himself while also working full time. Tim put a team member that is also a contractor on that project, and they built up trust and a lasting relationship. Tim told the story during their mission recap day at church: 

“We had gutted this house last year, and started putting things back together. Katie and Caleb worked on it all year, and now finally they are back in. We had about 15 people there every day this year painting, putting in cabinets, and installing light fixtures. By the end of the week we got to help them move into their house. It was a first to get to move a family back in, which was so rewarding.”

Cassidy, a church member who got to work on Katie and Caleb’s house both years, shared, “Moving Katie and Caleb into their home was the highlight of the trip for me, because Jordan and I had worked on their house last year. I had created a relationship with Katie to where I was checking in with her every month, praying for her.”

Putting the finishing touches on Katie and Caleb’s home
Lasting Impact

The homes built, trees cut up, and so many other projects have an evident impact on the people of Princeton, but that is not the only impact the “Blue Shirt People” gave or received. They spent as much time building relationships as building homes, and the community gave back in kind. “Everyone was so welcoming, looking out for us.” Tim illustrated, “You’d go into the local hardware store and people would offer to pay for the materials for you. Such a welcoming community.” The people of Princeton would stop to check on the work teams, bring food, and one restaurant owner even had the whole team over for all-you-can-eat pizza. 

Tim went on to praise, “The community itself was such a treat to be around. Everybody fell in love with Western Kentucky. It was a treat to work with CrossRoads, Dylan and Curtis, and Tim Anderson was a great help in planning -you can tell how much they care about the community. The bonds are built by going – having organizations like CrossRoads makes it so much easier, they know what needs to be done and who to work with. It amazes me every year what they can pull off in a week’s time – it seems physically impossible, but it is all through God.”

Blue Shirt People with a local homeowner
How you can get involved

These were just a couple of the amazing stories out of our Western Kentucky field. You can get involved and make an impact in Western Kentucky or any of our CrossRoads fields in several ways:

  • DONATE so that we can continue our ministry!
  • PLAN A TRIP to build relationships and build homes!
  • ASK OUR STAFF if they have any specific needs
  • SHARE your CrossRoads stories, and invite people to serve!

Are you or do you know a skilled construction worker? Contact us to find out how to use your skills on the mission field!

Hear more amazing stories from Mt Carmel’s trip in the video below:

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