Homeowners lives were changed when Samaritan's Purse responded to tornadoes across four states
It happened so fast. At the end of April, within just a couple of days, numerous tornadoes touched down and ripped apart the homes and lives of people living across the country. Lives were lost, electricity was gone for weeks, and entire neighborhoods were wiped off the map in a heap of destruction.
With so much devastation happening at once, it’s easy for the sense of hopelessness to creep in. But instead of being overwhelmed by the mass need, Samaritan’s Purse sprung into action, sending staff, equipment, and volunteers all over the country. We ultimately set up five different bases across four states to serve those impacted by the storms.
Bases were established to house our operation in Mayflower and Vilonia, Ark.; Louisville, Miss.; Baxter Springs, Kan.; and Athens, Ala. The need was great and the pain was real. Many homeowners whom we served intimately knew those who lost lives in the storm. And in case after case, we saw families who were literally left with nothing but the rubble of their once established life.
“I’ve never experienced this,” said Bobbie May, a 70 year-old woman from Louisville, Mississippi,. whose roof was horribly damaged. “It was terrible. I heard something like a train and heard another sound, something breaking. Glass and stuff and Lord, I was praying. And then I heard the trees break.”More than 1,791 volunteers worked tirelessly during the month of May to serve the people in need by clearing debris, tarping roofs, and sharing the love of Christ. Across these five locations, 482 homeowners were helped in a tangible way, but more importantly, 72 people found salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Johnny Love was one of those homeowners who received a new life in Christ amid the disaster. The majority of his family lived on the same street in Louisville in a neighborhood that was in the direct path of his tornado. His cousin a few houses down died when the house collapsed.
But days after the disaster, Johnny was nothing but smiles as he stood with his sister at his elderly father’s house where orange-shirt wearing volunteers were hard at work. He couldn’t contain his joy because he had finally realized what he had been missing, despite being a semi-regular churchgoer all his life.
“How can a person not believe there’s a God after going through something like this?” he said. “Look. My boat is still here but everything else gone. God knew I needed to go boating.”
Each situation, no matter how bad, is an opportunity to bring glory to God and share His love and truth to those who need it most.
“This right here showed me how powerful God is and who He is and who He wants me to be,” Johnny said. “If this never happened, I’d never have gotten to meet these people [volunteers and chaplains]… It’s amazing. You don’t rust many people these days anymore… They helped me change my life.”