“We have been willing servants. Thank God for the opportunity.” – Gladys S.
For the past four days, ten members of our congregation, along with seven members from Ankeny Christian Church and Newton Christian Church have been serving in Moore, Oklahoma. In the spring of 2013, a category EF5 tornado struck that area – and the devastation was immense. One year later, Don S. says, “The devastation in places is unreal. You can see where the tornado went – entire houses gone with just the slabs remaining, only trunks of trees standing. The only way to find a house is the break in the curb. We are so glad to help in small or big ways.”
The Team has been working with Church of the Harvest and Sheds of Hope – community organizations providing ongoing help to the residents. Arising early each day, the Team prepares their morning and noon meals and receives their plans for the day’s work. Divided into two or three crews each day, they work long hours to accomplish as much as they can. In the evenings, they share time together and reflect on their day as they prepare their evening meal.
Through Sheds of Hope, the families receive a free permanent shed erected on their property to hold their possessions until their homes are useable again. Barb S. says, “Think about having all you own in an 8×8 shed. Starting over with just that, but grateful that you are alive.” One crew spent a day putting together the foundations of the sheds – building walls, installing shingles, etcetera. The next day they erected and painted three sheds for homeowners.
A 5-person crew has been working all week on repairs to a home. They have worked on roofing as well as replacing siding. Doing major construction tasks necessary to make the home livable again for the family.
On Wednesday, a three-women crew painted the entire outside of a home – including removing debris to make the walls accessible and even painting the trim! Another crew moved two families into homes … while the home-repair crew continued to work on their siding and repair project.
Some days the crews work as far as 30 miles apart – yes, the path of destruction is that great. Yet wherever they work, their hearts have been lifted by the spirit of the families and the community. Sally N. shares, “We have met wonderful people here, and shared a number of opportunities to demonstrate God’s love.” And they have been blessed to stay at First Christian Church, whose LOGOS ministry (yes, the same as ours!) provided them dinner on Wednesday evening.
While our Mission Team works alongside those bringing healing to the community and families of Moore, we are reminded of the poignancy of life as the news services report the destruction of two of our sister churches (in Tupelo, MS and Washington, NC) by tornadoes on Monday. Even as our Team completes their work this week, we know more help is needed – not just in Moore, but in so many other places dealing with the aftermath of such devastation. Please continue in prayer – for the people in Moore, for the congregation and families in Tupelo and Washington, for our Mission Team members and all who bring healing and grace following loss.