A Survivor's Story
Miss “Betsy”, along with her daughter and granddaughter, was sitting in a lawn chair on her driveway in the blazing heat of Louisiana when my wife, Cherie, and I stopped to talk with her. We’ve often seen the effects of traumatic natural disaster on the lives of survivors, and it quickly became apparent that she was seeing her flood-ravaged home for the very first time since the waters receded. In the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, people often seem very unemotional, with a blank look of disbelief on their face as they consider years of memories and the security that their home represents totally wiped out…and struggle to take it all in.
All of Miss Betsy’s personal effects such as clothes, furniture, family memorabilia, as well as carpets and rugs still had to be hauled to the curb. Drywall, insulation, vinyl flooring -- and in many cases kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities -- all have to be forcibly removed and placed in wheelbarrows to join the pile of personal effects. “How am I going to get this done and who is going to do it? How will I ever rebuild and replace what has been lost?” These thoughts and more raced in her mind as the new reality began to sink in.
We believe God orchestrated a “divine” appointment between Miss Betsy and us that fateful morning. A key strategy when responding to disasters is to recognize the benefits of trusting in God’s limitless mercies and unfathomable knowledge. We begin each day by asking Him for direction, and that He would lead us to people that we should minister to through the practical, tangible expression of His love. This love looks like men and women from all across our nation who give of their time, pay their own way and work in blazing heat and high humidity. They work hard with their hands in backbreaking expressions of love for God and people. To the traumatized survivor, their display of selfless service is GOOD NEWS – and it is an expression of the Gospel of Jesus.
Less than 24 hours later, Miss Betsy is now on her way to recovery. When we arrived, the stale, dank aroma of waterlogged materials filled the air. We had to get everything out of her home before mold set in -- and we had to do it quick! As she watched our team “mucking out” her home, we told her that things will seem to get worse before they get better. That was hard for her to accept. However, as the day progressed, not only did the smell begin to dissipate, the look on Miss Betsy’s face began to take on a lighter air.
All the drywall and insulation below five feet has now been removed -- along with some of the cabinets and flooring. She can now stand in her living room and see through the entire house – the damaged materials gone. She sees more clearly what must be done to recover, and is convinced that she is not in this alone. God cares, and so do His people; so much so that they did all of this…just for her.
Like thousands upon thousands of other Louisianans, Miss Betsy does not have flood insurance. FEMA can only do so much to help alleviate the financial burden of restoring her home. The efforts of our Hope Force International volunteers who mucked out her home will help to reduce the cost of recovery -- but there will be a substantial gap. This is where additional volunteer labor can make a large contribution toward cutting costs and where individuals, businesses and the Church at large can sow hope, through their financial gifts, into the lives of survivors.
Would you please pray for the flood survivors of Louisiana and ask if you can be a part of the answer by volunteering your time and/or giving financially to aid in their recovery? In so doing, you will be ministering to the Father as well. Hebrews 6:10 states: “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”
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