Katrina Victims Visit Their Christian Brothers

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- Volunteer spirit joined with the Holy Spirit in the Tennessee Valley this weekend.

For the past two years, two congregations have traveled to Mississippi to help families rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.

The bond's between the two are a reminder of how hammers and nails have helped forge friendships and healing.

With hugs and handshakes, their lives were changed forever.

"It's way beyond my greatest imagination," said Hubert Jackson, a Hurricane Katrina survivor. "It's just a glorious event."

Jackson and about 60 other survivors had just stepped off their bus from Mississippi to reunite with the Church Street United Methodist Church volunteers who helped re-build their lives.

"These were people that I had never seen before," he said. "These were people that didn't know I existed. "

For two years, Church Street members have made monthly "Mission to Mississippi" trips.

In that time their hammers and paint brushes have re-built more than Jackson's home.

"They brought life back into the place," he said. "They brought joy and children laughing."

It's not just an effort, it's love.

"Jesus told us to serve other people and that's what we're doing," said Marc Gamble, the youth director at Church Street.

On Saturday night that meant a tailgate and potluck, where the Volunteer Spirit matched the Holy Spirit.

"It was going to be a hard sell to leave between the third and fourth quarter from their houses for potluck," Gamble said, "so I took that dilemma away."

Food and music continue to help forge the bond with Church Street's Christian brothers and sisters from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.

"It's because of them that we're back into our church," said Kenneth Maurice Davis, pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist.

It was no easy task.

"I was scared that I would mess up someones house," said Katryn McKinney, who volunteers to rebuild homes, "but I was very excited to go down."

Even though tonight's dinner might be wrapped up, the relationship between the two churches is far from over.

That's because once the plates are cleared, another trip's already planned for next month

Hubert Jackson still remains grateful.

"Every day I'm on my knees saying thank you, thank you Lord for being loved by people who I never knew," he said.

Concord United Methodist Church also has been involved in the partnership.

On Sunday the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church choir will perform at both churches.

Pastor Davis will also give the sermon.

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