A volunteer discusses how it takes various talents to effectively help a homeowner recover from a disaster
David Elliot volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Relief as part of the Site Leadership Team. He recently served in Michigan.
When I found out Samaritan’s Purse was responding to flooding in Oakland County, Michigan, I strongly felt that God was calling me to respond. Without even knowing I had made the decision to go, a prayer warrior friend sent me Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service,” (NKJV). This trip was truly appointed by God.
After arriving, my team went out and saw the many enormous piles of debris removed from homes and left curbside for pickup. I knew the mud-out process would be physically and spiritually demanding.
However, we’re always told that the work isn’t about the home; it’s about the homeowner. As a team leader, I work hard to ensure there’s a sensitive balance between the task at hand (i.e. mud-outs and debris removal) and spending time with the homeowner.
As with all deployments, there are some projects that impact our lives more than others. This time, it was James and Therese.
James has Parkinson’s disease, and Therese just had hip replacement surgery. Their basement was flooded with about 12 to 18 inches of sewage overflow. Therese went downstairs during the storm and said her toilet looked like a geyser spewing sewage and storm water as high as her bathroom ceiling.
Therese gave me a tour of the basement, and we went back upstairs to sit and talk with James, pray, and gather the team to begin our work. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association chaplains spent time with Therese and James along with team members throughout the day.
Upon completion, we were able to help James down the stairs to his awaiting wheelchair to give him the grand tour of his basement. He was full of questions and concerns that we were able to address to his satisfaction. He became overwhelmed with gratitude for us, which in turn, overwhelmed me and other team members emotionally.
Through the coming and going of various volunteers from all over the country during the three-week period, our team was always blessed with the perfect mix of servants. I was reminded of Romans 12:6-8: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness,” (NKJV).
I met Elaine, a volunteer whose soft heart led a homeowner named Diane to Christ. Another volunteer used his untiring and unwavering construction skills to complete every task. There were also local volunteers who could only work one day but were all so unselfishly giving of their time and dedicated to serving Him. Together, we were an awesome force and had unity within the body of Christ.
People always ask why we do what we do. We leave the confines and comforts of our homes for an adventure led by God, sleep on an air mattress for weeks at a time, and trudge through the mire and the muck in difficult circumstances. Why? We do it because of the blessing we receive by being able to serve people like James and Therese through serving our most precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.