Serving With Joy

April 17, 2013 • United States

A volunteer’s motivation to help tornado victims in Mississippi is simple: “to share God”

By Karina Petersen, Samaritan’s Purse Media Relations Coordinator

The best way to describe Kathleen Wood’s mood was joyful.

I talked to Kathleen when she was on the roof of William “Sundown” Seabrum’s tornado-damaged home on Monday. She is part of the team of volunteers working with Samaritan’s Purse as we bring relief to victims of the twister that hit Shuqualak, Miss., last week.

The work can be hard. But whatever labor is involved is clearly a labor of love for Kathleen.

“This is my outlet to share God,” she said.

Samaritan's Purse blog Mississippi tornado response volunteerKathleen began volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse in December, when she traveled from her Mississippi home to help with our Hurricane Sandy response in New York.

“I always did Operation Christmas Child, but after Hurricane Sandy hit I felt I needed to go [help],” she said. “I absolutely loved it. It was the right place and the right thing. Everything clicked.”

She spent two weeks that time, and returned for another two weeks at the end of January. In February, she and her husband came to volunteer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

“On the first Friday I was there I was asked to be a team leader,” she said. “I did it and every day I would come back and they were joking about how I had a goofy grin. I know that I was there to help people, but the joy it brought me was unparalleled.”

The reason for her joy is simple. It’s a way to show storm victims that God cares, and that He is working through His people to bring comfort.

“As a volunteer, I need to give these homeowners that reminder that every day is going to get better,” she said. “You need to love on them and try to help them in any way that you can. It gives them hope and it’s something to let them know they aren’t alone in this.”

Kathleen knows what it’s like to be a storm victim. Years ago, her family was hit by Hurricane Lili.

“It picked up a 25-foot oak tree and crashed through to my boy’s room,” she said. “I have an understanding of what these storm victims are going through.”

Kathleen loves helping people so much that she took it a step further. Recently she officially became a member of our site management team—a special group of unpaid volunteers who often deploy for a minimum of three weeks to provide leadership for others.

There is a sacrifice involved. She has to leave her husband and three kids (16, 13, and 10) back on the farm. But she said it’s worth it to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

“I have a fantastic husband who was raised doing missionary work and he supports me in this,” she said. “He said to me, ‘If you need to go, go.’ How do you NOT go when God calls you to go?”

Kathleen paused while up on the roof and looked around her. Seeing the path of destruction left by the tornado was another example of why she’s here.

“It’s this reminder that it doesn’t matter whatever you have going on in life…… “

She pointed at the destruction.

“Look at this. God brings the rain. He’s here too. Even when it’s this awful.”

Interested in being like Kathleen and serving with Samaritan’s Purse to help tornado victims in Mississippi? We are currently scheduling volunteers. Click here for more information.