By David Lush

Delta Democrat Times Newspaper
Greenville, Mississippi

September 6, 2005

Pastor Wheeler
David Lush, Photographer, Greenville, MS
Pastor Steven K. Wheeler (right), of Cincinnati with Impact Christian Ministries, chats with Dr. Ronald Myers of the Myers Foundation while Billy "Wild Bill" Smiley (left) looks on.

GREENVILLE — Many times pastors and the religious community know better what a congregation needs in times of crisis. And it this religious network at work in the Delta, which is providing needed supplies to those who could use a helping hand following the passage of Hurricane Katrina.

With many evacuees from New Orleans and Louisiana coming to or already here in the Greenville area, many are bypassing the American Red Cross shelter at the Washington County Convention Center in favor of housing and stays with church families in the area.

Heeding the call of his heart and conscious is Pastor Steven K. Wheeler of Cincinnati, Ohio, who heads the Impact Christian Ministries. He and a fellow church member arrived in Greenville Monday morning in a packed 14-foot rented Ryder truck with supplies for churches in the area who are sheltering families from the Gulf Coast area.

Wheeler joined Dr. Ronald Myers, with the Myers Foundation, Monday on the grounds of the convention center where the 100 Black Men of the Delta, NAACP and the Hinds Street M.B. Church served a traditional Labor Day cookout meal to evacuees and members of the each organizations.

“It was great to see such working together,” said Wheeler who enjoyed southern cooking. “The food is great and the people so friendly. I’m glad I came.”

Wheeler, who is also a student at the Mt. Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio, has been conducting a research project on pain. Myers is an expert on pain management and has operated a number of clinics around the Delta, including Greenville.

“I looked him up and called him up,” Wheeler said of Myers. “We’ve talked on the phone a couple of times over the past few months.. Then this happened with Hurricane Katrina. The Lord put him on my heart so I had to call him. I asked Dr.,. Myers ‘What’s going on? What can we do?”

“We are an outreach ministry. I told my people that we needed to do something so we collected things back home and loaded up the truck and came on down. We came to help fix the clinic in Belzoni and now we’re over here in Greenville seeing what the churches need and how we can help,” Wheeler said.

“It’s a blessing,” said Myers. “It’s wonderful to see people like Mr. Wheeler and his church coming to the aid of churches in the Delta. We’re certainly glad they came on down.”

Wheeler plans on being in the area “for a couple of days and assess the situation and see what else we can do. We want to see how they (churches) need to be helped. We’ll go back to Cincinnati with the needs people have here and see what we can do to help fulfill those needs.”

Wheeler left out this morning for Bogalusa, La. to take supplies then will return to Greenville.

Rather than outside people telling the affected churches, communities and people what they need, Wheeler’s approach is to “hear from these people and these pastors, who are already here, what they need. They don’t need people coming in and telling them what they need. We are here to listen and then respond to the needs they have identified from the churches and church members.”

“There are a lot of churches and church families who are taking in evacuees from south of here. They need help with food and supplies to accommodate the Christian mission they are doing. That’s what we are trying to coordinate with area churches. Seeing what is needed and then responding accordingly,” Myers said.

On his first trip to the Delta, Wheeler brought food, water, bedding, mattresses, toiletries and other supplies. He plans to return soon with a bigger truck, which can hold more supplies.


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