Disaster Relief: not all hammers and food
CLARKLAKE, MI – I have watched and prayed for my husband, Terry, as he served on Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Teams, while waiting for the time when I would be able to retire and join the Michigan team, too. Little did I know, one month later, God would be sending me to Galveston, Texas where Hurricane Harvey flooded Southern Texas. My husband and team members tried to prepare me for the destruction that I would personally see, but nothing could prepare me for the thousands of people I would be serving with hurt and broken hearts.
A feeding team was needed in Galveston, but my husband was not trained in this area and he didn’t feel led to go at that time. I had just spent time that month asking God what I would be doing for the next part of my life. Retired and an empty nest left me wondering. Little did I know that when Harvey hit, I would feel the spirit say go! Just go! I left with a couple from our church who would be leading our feeding team. As we entered Texas we were rerouted to Houston. We had a couple on our bus who spoke Spanish, and was needed to help with the spanish-speaking community that was near the supply warehouse.
The next 10 days would change my heart and grow my faith in God. I was asked to serve in the warehouse with Omega Sosa. I did not know how to speak Spanish, but we had people from all walks of life who needed help. The loss and destruction of their homes was the first thing we heard from each person we encountered at the warehouse. Their hearts were broken and hurting; they needed help. People came to the warehouse to get water and supplies, and needed to dry out their homes. Sometimes it was tools, and other times food and water. With each person that entered and needed help, we listened as they shared their traumatic stories of flooding with us. Their lives were shattered in a matter of minutes because most of them never expected flood waters to reach Houston like it did.
We were able to help many with supplies and information to assist them in the cleanup, and to give the paperwork to help them get started. We also were able to pray with 80% of the hurting and struggling men and women who walked in. Many people stopped what they were doing to bow their heads as we prayed with them. God opened doors and hearts plus several times we prayed for things needed and God supplied them within minutes of praying. A truck would drop off what was needed, or a person would walk in delivering exactly what we prayed for. Our God is a good and faithful. He is in the miracle business.
Many times, Omega would be praying in Spanish with some people, holding hands and her sweet voice filled the room with words. Some of us did not understand, but we knew she was sharing Jesus or praising Him for keeping that family safe and providing for their needs. God changed my heart that week and filled me with His love as I have never experienced before. Prayer after prayer was answered, and my faith in God grew in leaps and bounds. My heart felt as it would explode at God’s goodness. The Almighty God was there in the midst of that storm.
One man in particular will always be in my heart and mind. He was about 60 years old, very tall and strong. He walked in and stood in one place not moving. A sad, tired look covered his entire face, he looked lost. I thought maybe he was in the wrong place. He looked like an executive of some kind, and I asked if I could help him with something. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said he had lost everything. He had just built his retirement house on the lake; an eight hundred-thousand-dollar home, but had only lived in it for a month. He had no flood insurance, which was not needed in Houston, so the insurance people had told him. “Then it was all gone!” Now what would he do?
He looked like he was still in shock, so I asked God for wisdom and the right words before I spoke. I asked him if he still had his wife? He said, “yes .“ I asked him if he had children? He said, “yes.” I asked him if he believed in God? He responded, “yes.” I asked if he read his Bible or prayed or talked to Jesus. Then the tears ran down his face. I asked if he remembered the story of Job and how Job lost everything, but Job loved God and God loved Job. I reminded this man that he had his family and God blessed Job again with a new home and family. That same God is our hope in dark times. our only hope, and with Him we have everything. This man’s eyes brightened. We prayed together, and then we set him up with the supplies he needed.
I pray the Holy Spirit spoke to him at that moment. I saw God working every day in the people's hearts, and in the team's hearts who were serving them, but especially in mine. I am so very thankful for our Disaster Relief teams in Michigan, and encourage others to get trained, step out in faith and go watch God at work. It will change your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeannie Meinka is from Clarklake, MI and serves as a Michigan SBC Disaster Relief volunteer.