By BJ Sanders, volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse
I had the distinct honor last week to work alongside six other amazing individuals from Torch Community Church and minister to those in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. We served with the well-oiled and Gospel-focused disaster relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
My goal upon arriving was to update everyone about our adventure every night, but I didn’t realize how busy and exhausted we would be at the end of each day! But what an adventure it has been.
While I have a passion for missions and reaching out to people who are genuinely in need, a large part of my hope for this trip was to begin building into the DNA and identity of Torch Community Church the same vision and passion for missions. I knew the best way for this to happen was for the seven of us to witness not merely the physical recovery we participated in, but also to witness the spiritual recovery.
So my prayer in the weeks leading up to this was for us to discover the joy of being a part of the process of someone’s salvation, and for one of the homeowners in whose house we were working on to accept Jesus as his or her Savior.
My plan was for us to be there early Sunday night, get a good night’s sleep, and be ready to work Monday morning. That was until the left rear tire on our Suburban decided to explode just outside Columbus, Ohio. And when it did, it severed the coolant hose that ran adjacent to it. We could replace the tire with a spare, but we could not drive 600 more miles without coolant.
We took about 45 minutes to change the tire and then drove the SUV to a truck stop off the next exit and pleaded with them to help us out as they typically only service semi-trucks. After explaining the purpose of our travels, they obliged, and within an hour we were back on the road all fixed up!
After only getting about four hours of sleep, we got up Monday and spent the day working for a lady who is a retired New York City police officer. Her house was about seven feet under water and unlivable, so we worked all day gutting the basement.
We took out drywall, insulation, toilets, and a whole bunch of screws, getting her basement down to the framing to begin drying out. Sand from the ocean water sat a few inches deep inside her walls.
She was very nice and even purchased real New York style pizza for everyone’s lunch!
As we worked, the BGEA chaplains talked and prayed with her. And that’s when it happened. On our first day, my prayer was answered and our first homeowner gave her heart and life to Jesus! It gives me chills to think about it.
But wait, it gets better! Tuesday, we went to a younger man’s house who is a volunteer fireman. We did generally the same thing, except we worked on the first level of his house that was under water rather than the basement. His kitchen floor was still saturated with water as we removed the linoleum flooring a month after the hurricane.
At the end of the job, I was privileged to be the one to present the Samaritan’s Purse Bible to him—a gift extended to every disaster victim we serve. We left as the BGEA chaplains stayed behind and talked and prayed with him.
We discovered back at camp that he also accepted Christ. When the Lord wants to bless, He does so abundantly, and my prayer was yet again answered after working on our first two homes. I can assure you, this isn’t normal or nearly that common. There were dozens of homes worked on during those two days and four reported salvations; we were blessed to be a part of two of those. God is abundantly good.