The following reflection was written by Mike Minor, an American Baptist from Delaware who attends Central Baptist Church, Wilmington, Delaware. Minor has been involved in many different disaster relief efforts, working with American Baptist Men, the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware, the American Red Cross, Kingdom Builders, and Calvary Baptist Church of Newark, Delaware. The piece was originally published by American Baptist Men at: http://abmen.org/blog/category/disaster-relief/.
Can you imagine all the possessions that you have spent most of your life gathering, lying in a pile on the street, damaged beyond any hope of reclaiming?
From January 7-11, 2013, I had the great privilege to go to Old Bridge, New Jersey, and lend a hand with the relief effort from hurricane Sandy. Old Bridge is about a two-hour drive north in New Jersey from Delaware.
Our work team was made up of people from West Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and locals that live in New Jersey, both women and men. We were hosted by Sayre Woods Bible Church in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and ate like kings and queens while there. The ministry we joined is the “Love Thy Neighbor Outreach.”
Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the United States about 8 p.m. EDT on October 29, 2012, striking near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with winds of 80 mph. The death toll from Sandy as of November 1, 2012 was at least 149.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
What did we see 76 days after Sandy’s landfall? We saw destruction, devastation, loss, sadness, hope, determination, people coming together to help, and the spreading of God’s love.
We worked in a few small areas that were hit very hard by hurricane Sandy. Our main work was focused in a small community of about 30 houses, most of which had damage to their foundations, and were in various stages of clean-up.
The team worked in five of these houses. Work consisted of “Mud Out,” meaning volunteers wear protective overalls, breathing masks, rubber boots and rubber gloves, and clean everything out the best they can. Most of these houses were built at least three steps up from the ground, but still had five to seven feet of water on the main floor of the house.
We removed some large appliances, debris, drywall and insulation, and also sprayed for mold in one home.
Through the five days of work we saw God’s hands and feet. We saw hope. We saw love. We saw compassion. We saw the gospel of Jesus Christ coming to life in the lives of the workers, in the lives of the home owners, and in the lives of the people from Sayre Woods Bible Church. What a wonderful experience to see God using us to make a difference in the lives of people that needed hope at this time in their lives. I saw more people from the community expressing thanks for what we could do for them than in any other mission trip I have been on. It was most uplifting to see the people in the community stop us and say thank you, even if we had not worked on their house. Even the police that patrolled the area said thanks. Those “thank yous” and the relationships we formed with the people we came in contact with made this a very special trip.
Prayer by Mike Minor:
Thank you God for another safe and humbling experience and another opportunity to see your power and mercy at the same time. We also thank you for your word that tells us what we see is temporary and we fix our eyes on what is unseen, our relationship with you today and forevermore.