Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flood Relief - Part 2

This past Saturday, our CARE Team took its first trip to the Baton Rouge area to help with flood cleanup.

For the 13 of us who went, it was a very powerful experience. We shared a little about it Sunday morning, but honestly, our stories and the few images we captured can’t even begin to do it justice.

Driving into the disaster zone, you begin to see small indications that something was wrong: standing water along the roads, high water/mud lines in the trees and bushes.
But when you get into the neighborhoods, it’s absolutely overwhelming. I shared a video of our drive down one of the residential streets. Furniture, flooring, toys, electronics… all destroyed by the flood water, all piled at the curb waiting to be hauled away. The piles were so high that it was difficult to see the houses behind them.

And the piles seemed to be endless.

Every turn, every street, every residence.

At first, it was shocking to see. But after a while, you start to get numb to it. Another driveway, another mountain of trash. But each pile of “trash” represented a lifetime of things worked for, memories, comforts, everything that makes a house a home.

When just one family loses everything they had in a disaster, it’s heartbreaking. We take notice. We feel for them. I can’t even count the number of times over the years that we’ve come together to help a family recover from a fire or a tree through their roof or some other unfortunate event. But when virtually everyone in an entire community loses virtually everythingit’s overwhelming. And this scene is playing out in countless communities in South Louisiana. It’s almost too much to process.

South Louisiana needs a LOT of help. More than any single church or organization could provide.

The flooding in South Louisiana is not one single disaster. More than 60,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. That’s 60,000+ disasters, because each family, each individual is dealing with their own significant and very personal losses. This past Saturday, our team had the opportunity to split up and assist 5 different families. Each of those families had stories that would break your heart.

When you look at the big picture, helping 5 families out of 60,000+ seems insignificant. But for those 5 families, our presence meant the world to them! We made a difference.

We’re going back again this Saturday, and we already have a wonderful team in place! If you’d like to join us, let me know on Facebook and I’ll share the details with you.

I realize that not everyone can make the trip. Christian Challenge would like to send a group down every week for as long as we possibly can… but there will even be some weekends where I won’t be able to go. And while it’s wonderful if you can go, there are many other ways to help. And every bit of help is valuable!

In 1 Samuel 30, David and his army were facing a crisis. He set off with 600 soldiers to rescue women and children who had been captured by the enemy. But it was a grueling mission, and 200 of the soldiers couldn’t make the whole trip. They stayed back and guarded the equipment. When David and the victorious soldiers returned, he gave instructions that everyone - even those who stayed behind - was to have a share of the reward.

I’ve already heard stories of those who volunteered to babysit (or dogsit!) so that someone else could make the trip. (If you’re a part of Christian Challenge and want to offer to be someone’s sitter so they can go, please let us know in our Facebook group!) Still others have provided supplies for us to bring to those who need them, and tools for us to use as we serve in the cleanup, and refreshments that have been shared not just with our team, but with others who are serving or dealing with the cleanup themselves. As Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12, the body of Christ is made up of many members, and functions best when each one does its part!

Here’s a list of the items that have been specifically requested for this week:

  • Cleaning products
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Towels
  • Fans
  • First aid stuff
  • Grab & go snacks
  • *Large Industrial or Heavy Duty trash bags*

In addition, I can bring gift cards to give directly to those in need (whose needs have been verified by the churches we’re assisting). You can also donate money towards the purchase of supplies or gift cards.

If you’d like to donate something that isn’t on this list, please check with other groups who may be better equipped to receive those kinds of items at this time (see the list from last week’s blog), or hang on to it for now. As many others have been saying, everything will be needed… but not everything is needed now!

In the midst of such a tremendous natural disaster, it has truly touched me to see how so many people have been coming together to help. These last two weeks, I’ve been talking about what we as the Christian Challenge family have been doing, but I know that many other churches and businesses are also involved in flood relief projects. Let me know what you’re doing in the comments so we can encourage one another!

What we did this past week reminded me of the story, inspired by the 1969 essay by Loren Eiseley, called The Star Thrower. While walking along a beach after a storm, a man sees a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. When asked what he’s doing, the boy responds that if the starfish aren’t returned to the ocean, they will die. The man comments that there are thousands of starfish and only one boy so how can he make a difference? The little boy picks up a starfish and says, “I can make a difference for this one.” Truly each of us by making a difference for one starfish can make a difference for our world.

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