New Homes and Full Hearts

June 4, 2024 • United States
Josh, Brenna, and their three children were joined by family, friends, and Samaritan's Purse volunteers and staff in an exuberant dedication before moving into their new home May 30.

Kentucky residents recently moved into new homes built entirely by Samaritan’s Purse after a deadly tornado destroyed their town more than two years ago.

U.S. Disaster Relief

Two and a half years ago, Josh Jones sat on his couch unconcerned about the reports of an EF4 tornado making its way toward Mayfield, Kentucky. A lightning bolt suddenly struck just outside the window, jolting Josh off the couch and into his truck. This was no ordinary storm.

“It was like something I had never seen before,” Josh recounted as he swerved through town in his pickup. His fiancé, Brenna, and their three children had already found shelter at a nearby family member’s house hours ago. He saw the lightning strike as a sign to join them.

Josh's home was among the hundreds of buildings to be leveled in Mayfield by the EF4 tornado. Now, he and his family enter a new home provided by Samaritan's Purse free of charge.

Josh’s home was among the hundreds of buildings to be leveled in Mayfield by the EF4 tornado. Now, he and his family enter a new home provided by Samaritan’s Purse free of charge.

Within minutes of finding shelter with his family, the tornado tore through the town. If Josh had stayed at his house, he would of likely lost his life in Kentucky’s deadliest tornado.

Josh walked back to his home hurdling fallen trees and sidestepping past live electrical wires. He arrived at his property, or at least what was left of it, near midnight. “I could see the night sky from the living room. The roof had fallen in … it was horrible,” Josh explained.

The twister, which reached winds up to 190mph, swept away the home in a matter of seconds. It was December, and the couple had just bought Christmas gifts for their young kids.

Dec. 10, 2021—was a tragic day for many homeowners in Mayfield, Kentucky. Hundreds of families caught in the twister’s path lost everything, and the town is still reeling from the destruction to this day. In response, Samaritan’s Purse has come alongside the community, and the local church, by building new homes for families through the Western Kentucky Rebuild Program for over two years. Josh and Brenna were among the latest to move in to their new home.

Brenna can't hold her excitement as she turns the key to enter her new home.

Brenna couldn’t contain her excitement as she turned the key to enter her new home.

Paid In Full

Under blue skies and accompanied by loved ones, Josh and his family were handed the keys to their new, four-bedroom home for the first time. The joyous occasion brought tears to the family’s eyes.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and staff read the story of the Good Samaritan aloud to the dozens gathered to kick off the dedication. The family was then presented a bill for the house with bold, red letters printed across the paper that read, “PAID IN FULL,” representing how the blood of Jesus Christ has covered the cost of our sin and debt.

Mark Gavin, a Samaritan's Purse staff member, gifts Josh and Brenna an exclusive Billy Graham Study Bible for the family to enjoy for years to come.

During the dedication, Mark Gavin, a Samaritan’s Purse staff member, gifted Josh and Brenna a special Billy Graham Study Bible for the family to enjoy for years to come.

“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” Josh said to the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers, past and present, who worked to construct the house.

After laying hands on the house and praying, Josh, Brenna, and their young children entered their fully furnished home with wide grins. “This is mine,” their youngest daughter shouted with joy as she jumped on her bed.

Josh and Brenna's daughter jumps joyfully on her bed at the dedication of her family's new home in Mayfield, Kentucky.

J’Brielle, Josh and Brenna’s 5-year-old daughter, jumped joyfully on her bed at the dedication of her family’s new home in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Faithful Through the Storm

Janet Kemp was another homeowner to receive a house through the Samaritan’s Purse rebuild program in Mayfield, becoming Josh and Brenna’s new neighbor.

Janet huddled in her hallway when the tornado plowed through town that December evening. There, on her knees, Janet prayed through the storm. To her surprise and to the glory of God, the hallway was left unscathed as the rest of the house was ripped apart. A floorboard impaled the wall by her side, but because she was kneeling, the board missed her head by a foot.

“I was afraid I was going to die,” Janet said. “I just started saying the Lord’s Prayer, and all I can say is that the good Lord had his hand over me, that’s the only way I made it.”

"God's in control," Janet said while looking at her new home. "He is just awesome."

“God’s in control,” Janet said while looking at her new home. “He is just awesome.”

Now, Janet and her 28-year-old son have a home where they can continue to serve the Lord. As summer approaches, Janet can’t wait to stroll around the neighborhood—something she couldn’t do in her previous community because of safety concerns—and to adorn her new yard and porch with flowers, especially irises, her favorite kind.

Continuing to Work in Jesus’ Name

Josh’s family and Janet were the 62nd and 63rd recipients of new homes through the Samaritan’s Purse Western Kentucky Rebuild Program that began in late January 2022 and continues to serve hurting homeowners to this day in Jesus’ Name. The neighborhood, New Hope Acres, is now a thriving community with dozens of families overflowing with gratitude.

The project enters its 105th week working in Mayfield, with consistent volunteers flooding in to help every week. With only 18 homes left to build, the project will wrap up later this year.

Once strangers and now neighbors, Josh's family and Janet now live side-by-side in the New Hope Acres neighborhood.

Once strangers, Josh’s family and Janet are now neighbors in the New Hope Acres neighborhood.

Each house has a plaque posted by the door with the words of Jesus inscribed: “’Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock’” (Matthew 7:24, ESV).

We praise God for the ability to rebuild entire homes in western Kentucky and for the hope that has been rekindled in the community through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please pray that these families would honor God with their new homes and choose to build their lives on Him.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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