Armed with a chainsaw, axe rope and emergency provisions, our son Beau traveled from Annapolis, Maryland to Johns Island, SC praying he would find our home still standing after hurricane Hugo blasted its way across the South Carolina coast.
A continent and ocean away, with gentle Hawaiian trade winds stirring the air of our quarters in Pearl Harbor, thankful tears of relief flowed from my eyes as I received the happy news that we and most of our neighbors had sustained only minor damage to our homes. Accompanied by bands of other island dwellers, anxious to return once the “all clear” was given, Beau had cautiously navigated his way along main arteries to secondary roads and then foot-by-foot cleared a path through fallen trees and debris, often three feet deep, all the way to our front door. With no electricity, water or phone he stayed two weeks clearing our yard and helping neighbors. How blessed we were to have a strong son to come to our aid and the equipment needed for the arduous tasks! Not everyone is so fortunate…
Natural disasters can strike without warning leaving in their wake unimaginable devastation that can take years, even decades from which to recover. Often the victims of such disasters are unprepared and ill equipped to cope with such overwhelming ruin. It is then that Christian men and women like those of the all-volunteer force of the Edgefield County, SC Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team near where I live move with skill and compassion to help where they can.
Riding in a church van followed by a utility trailer with the words “A cool cup of water in the name of Jesus Christ” painted on the side, the 67 qualified members of the Disaster Relief Team have rendered aid to the victims of floods, tornadoes, ice and windstorms. Team leader Jimmy Painter shared with me how he has taken his team to West Virginia three times to do “mud-out” work for flood victims. Mud-out work is the backbreaking hauling of tons of mud from homes along with associated limb, debris and tree removal.
And for weeks following hurricane Hugo, volunteers spent their weekends in Charleston lending a helping hand.
Chief Painter told me of a visit the team made to Orangeburg, SC after the Edisto River overflowed its banks. Dripping wet and covered in mud, they stopped at a local restaurant for hot cup of coffee. As they rested in a booth, a woman walked by, looked at them, and then loudly announced, “Hey everybody, these are the men who cut trees for Jesus!”
When hearts are broken, dreams are shattered and in the most tragic of situations lives have been lost, it is hard to believe God is with you.
Sometimes it takes cutting down trees for people to see Jesus. Sometimes it takes hauling buckets of mud and washing down walls to bring hope to the hopeless and help heal the brokenhearted. Sometimes it takes holding a hand, being a good listener or offering a cool cup of water in the name of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, as is happening now in the riot torn town of Ferguson, Missouri, it takes the courage of Christian volunteers bravely confronting looters at the entrance of shops and stores for people to see the love of Jesus.
Each day provides us with opportunities “to let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Keep your eyes open for those opportunities and do what you can to help make this often crazy and mixed up world a better place.
What helped you bounce back from a natural or man-made disaster?
Reminder: The End Of Summer Blues Contest ends in soon! Leave a comment and you will be eligible to win one of these sunny, summery pens to tuck inside your autumn purse! The winner will be announced in Tuesday’s blog September 2nd.