Originally published Monday, 12 November 2012.
It’s in the name that has changed each of our lives, Jesus, we come.
There are twelve of us on our team from Elevation Church. We traveled a long time, eleven hours. There’s snow on the ground. It’s cold. We’ve hardly slept.
But the energy that surrounds us is unexplainable.
We drive down a road. A police officer stops us. He needs to know why we are there, what is our purpose? He’s guarding the people of his community that are deeply wounded both physically and emotionally.
After hearing why we are there, he thanks us for coming and allows us to pass through.
At first it doesn’t appear there is much for us to do. But we travel further; turn down many roads towards the scape of the ocean on the East Coast.
Then, we see it.
Streets are filled with wet carpet, molded insulation, broken roof tiles, wood and bags of trash. Legos, stuffed animals and the treasures of children lay in yards. Boats that should be in the water are misplaced on streets.
Homeowners stand in front of their homes with looks of disbelief. Neighbors hug each other, asking what they can do to help; knowing they don’t have much to offer one another.
Their houses, cars and belongings are destroyed. Their lives feel crumbled. Life as they have known it is no more.
It’s the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in community called Toms Shore, New Jersey.
And there’s a sea of orange shirts ready to respond.
We pick up trash, mud out houses and move cars. We stop to pray with those in this broken community. We think nothing of ourselves for many hours and it feels…amazing.
The work is laboring but the soul is what we are here for.
I see an elderly man standing in front of his house. He seems to be waiting for something or someone. But mostly he looks confused, like many of the people we meet.
I stop what I’m doing and ask him how he’s holding up.
His name is Jimmy, he’s 78 and if I’d met him in any other situation I’d think he’s apart of some godfather-type society. His New Jersey accent is thick; his personality strong and he tells me he’d like some help moving appliances to the curb.
I find some guys to come help.
They lift his washer, dryer and stove to the street. I stay and talk with him. He begins to tell me the story of his life.
Then, this strong northern man is moved to tears.
We talk about God and what God means to him. He tells me about his God-struggles. We find common ground. I tell him I don’t always understand the things of God either.
But then we talk about Jesus, the man who changes everything, including souls that wander.
More tears fill Jimmy’s eyes.
He wants to know more.
In the midst of this very dark situation, he finds Hope because a ministry called Samaritan’s Purse shows up on his street.
Jimmy’s story is one of thousands.
And these stories won’t end next week, next month or even next year. They will continue long after the news crews have moved on and the rest of America has returned to regularly scheduled programming.
But today, there are dozens of people just like Jimmy, returning to their home for the first time since October 29th. They will stand in streets filled with rubble, looking confused and hoping for someone to help.
What if you could be that person?
I know most of us don’t know how to help or where to begin. I didn’t either. But here’s 3 ways to get involved right now:
1. Send a donation.
Any amount, $10 to $10,000. I can promise you this ministry is using every dime wisely.
Most of the contractors were charging over $2,000 per house to do what Samaritan’s Purse offers for free. Many of these homeowners have no flood insurance so without this help from Samaritans Purse it would be very hard to begin the rebuilding process.
Click here to donate.
2. Show up.
Yes, you. Samaritan’s Purse needs more volunteers in the coming weeks that will pause life and go and serve.
Click here for more information on forming a team.
3. Get your community involved.
You have influence. Whether it’s 5 people or five thousand people, you have friends on facebook, twitter and in real life that listen to what you say.
Will you be a voice of Hope today? Share with your community what you are doing to help and ask them if they will get involved too.
Today my friend I beg you to hear the stories of Hurricane Sandy victims. Watch their stories unfold on the news and see the tragic pictures, let this move your soul.
But then, do something. Pray. Donate. Go. Inspire others. Do something.
As a wise man once said, “If this don’t light a fire in your pipe, then there’s something wrong with your tobacco.”