From May 20- Aug. 1, Journey Church became a major location for supplies, shelter and food.
“We had 8,500 volunteers in eight days. As a pastor, there has never been a prouder moment because the church was the church. It didn’t take any motivation, it didn’t take any coercion, people just did what they were supposed to do. We would tweet, ‘We need bread’ and hundreds of loaves of bread would be there within 30 minutes,” Mitchell said. “We ended up having 50,000 square foot distribution space. One of the things that I’m really proud of our people for is that when we did shut down our distribution center a couple of weeks ago, everything we had leftover went to another organization that would utilized it.”
Watching a natural disaster unfold before your very eyes is painful enough. But Mitchell also was dealing with personal pain during the time his church was providing comfort for so many. A few weeks after the tornado, doctors discovered that Mitchell had two ruptured disks in his neck.
“They were ruptured bad enough and putting enough compression on the spinal cord that it was very threatening. We had to go in and replace those ruptured disks,” Mitchell said.
But health issues haven’t been a stranger to Mitchell. Three years ago, Mitchell was told that he had a brain stem tumor, tumors in each of his cranial nerves leading to his ears and a spinal fluid leak. April 12, 2012, Mitchell underwent a craniotomy in attempt to remove the tumor centrally located on his central nervous system. The tumors were in inoperable places and continue to challenge Mitchell’s health. But through all of this, Mitchell still can’t say enough about his congregation.
“Just the space the church gives us and the grace they give us to walk through these health challenges. And the support and encouragement — it’s been phenomenal,” Mitchell said. “The health issue has probably made me work different. I think it’s probably made me more relatable to people. It’s been very visible the challenges I’ve had. It think it’s something the Lord did and is using something challenging to further his gospel. I live to share the gospel. While there is a tremendous amount of physical discomfort and challenges on Sunday, it’s what I live for. I have trouble resting because I have so much fun doing what I do.”