By: Allyson Hutchison
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Hot summer sun, paint drying, and nail guns firing are sights and sounds that St. John’s Lutheran is all too accustomed to. The trip began early on July 10th, as members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Montpelier gathered together to begin their journey to Alabama with a prayer from Pastor Paul Gruetter. Altogether, thirteen members of St. John’s congregation joined in this endeavor. Among those thirteen were Jeannie Willson, Anna Baker, Julie and Jacqueline Carlson, David and Sharon
Deetz, Dave, Cadin, and Blake Jaessing, and Kent, Kim, Dylan, and Allyson Hutchison.
Upon arriving in Birmingham, after a ten hour trip, the group was met by the most warm hearted people, Monte and Kim Brenneman. Monte and Kim head an organization called Next Step STORM (Severe Tragedy Outreach Relief Ministry), which St. John’s has been affiliated with since hurricane Katrina, when the Brennemans were in Gulf Port. Monte and Kim’s main focus is to not only help people who have suffered the consequences of natural disasters and may not have the income to fix their property, but also spread the love of Jesus with those people. At the beginning of the week, Monte encourages the groups to stop and talk with the victims to better understand what they come from, and to share the gospel with those who are suffering.
Their generosity doesn’t stop there though. Monte and Kim are more than willing to share their beliefs with the groups that pass through the sites. The Brennemans share a focus for the week with each group that spends time in their presence. This year, a large poster rested over the mantle with the verse Romans 12:2 written on it. For those who are not familiar with this verse, it reads, “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” The Brennemans taught throughout the week that the members on this trip needed to stand for God and with God to rise above the chaos in this world and to better help those in need.
During the week, Monte had several jobs to keep the group busy; the main one being a painting and roofing job at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders. The entirety of the first day was spent scraping and wire brushing off the flakes of old paint so the new would stay on. Once the house was prepared, the painting began. This job alone took all week for the painting crew to complete, but the house looked magnificent once it was finished. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders and their grandchildren were ecstatic to see the completion of their house. With the help of hard workers and great leadership from Monte and his son Josh, the house ended up not only painted, but reroofed, which Monte had not planned on doing the week that St. John’s was in Birmingham.
The members of St. John’s didn’t only help the Sanders family by fixing up their house; they also provided comfort and optimism to an already strong family. While talking with the Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, the workers found out that Mr. Sanders had recently had surgery to fix a detached retina and his wife had undergone a double mastectomy to remove her breast cancer. Not only had the Sanders gone through all of that, they were also worried about the need of the workers. Mrs. Sanders was always asking if the group needed anything and thanking them for the work they were doing. The Sanders were truly a blessing to work for.
The whole week was a blessing all around. Whether it was the fellowship that the group shared at night, the wonderful meals that Kim and the other kitchen staff provided, or God’s work that the group completed, the week was a delightful for everyone. It was a tearful and difficult goodbye when the final day did come. The members of St. John’s will never forget the week and neither will Monte, Kim, and everyone else who shared it with them.
Monte and Kim are always looking for more God loving people to work with. If your church or mission group is looking for an organization to do a mission with, more information about the Brennemans and their mission can be found at www.nextstepstorm.org
Allyson Hutchison may be reached at