Doctors may not prescribe music and laughter but both are good medicine, and folks got a big dose of each Aug. 2 at the Beauregard Strong benefit night hosted by Providence Baptist Church, Opelika.
“If you missed Beauregard Strong … well, you just should have been here. It was simply the best,” said Providence’s pastor Rusty Sowell.
The goal of the night was to encourage community members still recovering following the March 3, 2019, tornadoes that struck the east Alabama communities of Beauregard and Smiths Station, both in Lee County, killing 23 people and leaving hundreds homeless.
Volunteers staged out of Providence Baptist to provide aid and support in the days that followed.
“It was a great night and so good to see everyone enjoying themselves through smiles, laughter and praise,” said TAB director of communications Debbie Campbell. “We had prayed for God to use this event to help heal and renew people through a night of Christian entertainment.”
‘Looks like Jesus’
The benefit featured several performers familiar to Alabama Baptist audiences. Pianist Frank Jones opened the evening with classic favorites and a pre-show singalong. Illusionist David Garrard brought his blend of tricks and humor to the stage, followed by comedian Mickey Bell. New Ground, a gospel trio based in Scottsboro, sang and singer/songwriter Aaron Wilburn finished out the evening with a selection of his humorous songs.
In one of the evening’s most serious moments Wilburn sang a newly written, yet-to-be-released song, “That Looks Like Jesus to Me.” The lyrics describe scenes of people ministering and the refrain, “that looks like Jesus to me.”
Wilburn added a special final verse for the evening which noted the ministry done in the Beauregard community and specifically out of Providence Baptist Church. As tears flowed among those in the audience Wilburn pointed to the crowd and sang, “You look a lot like Jesus to me.”
An estimated 300 people attended the event and more than $9,000 was donated to relief efforts.
“The overwhelming response shows how much people care for one another in this community,” she said.
Bill King, associational missions director for Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association, expressed his gratitude.
“Thank you, The Alabama Baptist newspaper and sponsors, for providing us with a wonderful evening of fun and worship while at the same time raising a significant amount of gifts to help those residents in Beauregard who are still rebuilding their homes and lives,” he said.
The Baptist Foundation of Alabama was presenting sponsor for the evening, joined by sponsors Auburn Bank, BBVA Compass Bank, LaMar Financial Services/Raymond James and Lee County Association of Realtors.
The churches of Elmore Baptist Association sent a donation of $3,400, and Wal-Mart gave $1,000 which was used to purchase gift cards for families who will receive new homes later this year through the 2019 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, an initiative of The Fuller Center for Housing, a faith-driven nonprofit organization that builds and rehabilitates homes for people in need.
Millard Fuller Legacy Build
The goal of the project scheduled for Sept. 29–Oct. 4 is to build 11 houses, and volunteers of all experience levels are needed.
Providence Baptist Church will once again be a major part of the effort, hosting a kickoff dinner Sept. 29 and feeding and housing volunteers throughout the build. For more information on the 2019 Millard Fuller Legacy Build or to register as a volunteer, go to www.fullercenter.org. (Carrie Brown McWhorter)