Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 28, 2013

Family that lost home in fire aided

By JOHN KLINE john.kline@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — GOSHEN — While it may seem like finding a helping hand is becoming more and more difficult these days, one Goshen church is proving that sometimes it is better to give than to receive.

Just ask Millersburg resident Wendy Nunemaker, who together with her church, Grace Community Church of Goshen, is spearheading a prayer chain campaign to help a neighbor who recently lost everything in a devastating house fire.

“Last Saturday we were coming home from a sporting event and noticed that there were fire trucks everywhere and smoke billowing from my neighbor’s home,” Nunemaker said of how she first learned of her neighbor’s plight. “My neighbor, Michelle McKibben, she’s a single mom, and she lost everything in that fire. She has a four year old son, Mason, and another son, Michael, and a daughter, Kenzie. And everything’s gone. It’s just gone. The house is basically just a shell now.”

Seeing the loss inflicted upon McKibben and her family, Nunemaker said she felt led by her Christian beliefs to try and do what she could to ease that burden. Her mind made up, Nunemaker immediately sent out a message through her church’s prayer chain asking for any assistance the congregation might be willing to give in helping McKibben and her family get back on its feet.

And the response, she said, has been overwhelming.

“I had so many people respond, and I just sent them emails of what she needed, and they immediately started getting the items around,” Nunemaker said. “I mean, there was a resale shop in Warsaw that gave her free furniture just out of the goodness of their heart, people gave towels, clothes, shoes, beds, blankets, a microwave, pots and pans and silverware... It’s just such a huge blessing.”

And what’s more, Nunemaker noted that most of the people lending assistance have never even met McKibben or her family. That, according to Grace Executive Administrator Ted Rondeau, is exactly what makes the church’s prayer chain so effective.

“This is one of those things that falls into the category of spontaneous response, so it’s a little less formally planned or organized than some of our projects,” Rondeau said. “We regularly get calls and information about things that happen in the community, and what happens is some of them get latched onto and become a big formal church project, and the vast majority just end up going out on our prayer church line, which includes about 800 people, and then people just kind of spontaneously respond as they feel led. There’s no coordination or organization or deliberateness involved. It’s more just a kind of culture we try to create here at Grace of keeping in front of the church family and the needs of the community.”

Nunemaker was quick to agree.

“As a church, we’re not trying to bring attention to ourselves when it comes to this kind of thing,” Nunemaker said. “It’s really just a matter of being the hands and feet of Jesus and blessing those in need, because we all have those times in life that are not so great. So it’s just a matter of seeing someone who is in need, and deciding to do something about it.”

Through the help of the church and other aid organizations such as the local Red Cross chapter, Nunemaker noted that McKibben has been able to find a new apartment in the Ligonier area and is slowly starting to get her life back together. Even so, Nunemaker said there is still plenty the community could do to help lighten the family’s load.

“She still has quite a list of things that she needs,” Nunemaker said. “So if anyone feels led to help, they can feel free to email me at nune@bnin.net, and we can find a way for them to help out.”

Follow government reporter John Kline @jkline_TGN