Samaritan’s Purse Helps Homeowners Rebuild in Eastern Carolinas

January 15, 2020 • United States
Samaritan's Purse staff and volunteers pray over the newly-rebuilt home of Army Sergeant Anthony and Kenyatta James in New Bern, North Carolina.
Samaritan's Purse staff and volunteers pray over the newly-rebuilt home of Army Sergeant Anthony and Kenyatta James in New Bern, North Carolina.

Volunteer teams are helping in Jesus’ Name as we repair, rebuild, and restore homes in communities devastated by Hurricane Florence.

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As Hurricane Florence passed through New Bern, North Carolina, lightning struck a large pine tree in Kenyatta James’ front yard. The splintered tree fell diagonally across her house, which the family had evacuated in advance of the storm.

Kenyatta and her son Nykee celebrate a newly-renovated home "paid in full" by the work and generosity of God's people.

Kenyatta and her son Nykee celebrate a newly-renovated home “paid in full” by the work and generosity of God’s people.

The fallen timber left the James’ home severely damaged and allowed torrential rain inside as the storm churned slowly through the region in Sept. 2018. Their roof, inside walls, flooring, and most of their possessions were ruined. When her son’s friend sent pictures of the damage, Kenyatta was devastated.

“I started crying. The whole house looked like it was caved in,” she said. “There were so many nights after that when I just cried and prayed asking God ‘OK, what’s next?’”

When Kenyatta and her husband Army Sergeant Anthony James found a contractor to make repairs, more problems arose. The contractor abandoned the job without doing the work, taking the family’s insurance money and a number of brand-new appliances.

This all happened as Anthony was preparing for a year-long deployment to Saudi Arabia. When the Jameses found out about the rebuild work of Samaritan’s Purse, they contacted us desperate for help.

Only days after Anthony deployed, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived to begin work. They stripped the structure down to studs and subflooring, and proceeded to rebuild and repair the home’s interior.

God is Rebuilding Homes and Lives

On Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, our volunteer teams and Samaritan’s Purse leadership gathered at the James residence to welcome them back home after more than a year. Sergeant Anthony James joined the celebration remotely from Saudi Arabia via FaceTime.

Kenyatta's family joins staff and volunteers in prayer as her husband Anthony joins via phone from an Army post in Saudi Arabia.

Kenyatta’s family joins staff and volunteers in prayer as her husband Anthony joins via phone from an Army post in Saudi Arabia.

Kenyatta, her mother, sister, and her four children, were all there to receive the keys to the home and a bill for the cost of all the repairs—which included a new roof, new walls and flooring, appliances, electrical and plumbing, heating and air, and even furniture. But, across this commemorative bill were the words “Paid in Full” in bright red—a reference to the price Jesus Christ paid on our behalf through His death on the Cross. It also served as a reminder to the Jameses, and to anyone who asks, that Christ’s people provided rebuilds and repairs as a free gift, an expression of God’s grace.

“Just as Samaritan’s Purse, with all our volunteers, came and put this house back together for you when it was torn apart, Jesus Christ can take our lives when they’re torn apart and put them back together,” said Program Manager Tim Cottrell. “Let this be a reminder of what Jesus has done for each one of us.”

The Jameses were provided with a journal of encouraging handwritten notes from the many volunteers who worked on their house. They also received a special blanket made by a volunteer who incorporated fabric from an orange Samaritan’s Purse volunteer T-shirt.

“There was a certain feeling of despair,” said Kenyatta’s college-age son Nykee. “It was hard for me to see the light in the darkness. It was hard to see the blessing in disguise. But seeing the final product today, it’s more beautiful than I could ever imagine.”

Our staff and volunteers join the James family in celebrating as they move back home.

Our staff and volunteers join the James family in celebrating as they move back home.

Luther Harrison, Samaritan’s Purse vice president of North American Ministries, offered a prayer of blessing over the new home, asking God to protect the family, including Anthony during his deployment.

“Lord keep the storms away from this home, protect them and I pray as we’re here celebrating that you would protect their father and husband as he serves our country in Saudi Arabia. And Lord give this family growing knowledge of you each and every day.”

Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Relief volunteer teams were on the ground after Florence assisting homeowners in areas of eastern North Carolina and also in South Carolina. Since March of 2019, our volunteer teams have been rebuilding and repairing Florence-devastated homes in Whiteville, Lumberton, and New Bern, North Carolina, and in Horry County, South Carolina.

So far more than three dozen extensive repair projects have been completed at our work sites in New Bern and in Whiteville and Lumberton. Our volunteers continue working on a dozen rebuild projects throughout the region, providing entirely new homes, to replace ones destroyed by Hurricane Florence. We have also provided nearly two dozen manufactured homes to replace those lost during the storm.

SUPPORT
U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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