Day 2: Mixed Emotions #TraditionallySouthside

Today was a day of mixed emotions and a variety of tasks. Since I am traveling with the State Chaplain Strategist, Mark Wakefield, we are tasked with taking care of a few things. Remember, in an earlier post, I mentioned Mark’s motto: Semper Gumby – always flexible. As chaplains, we do whatever needs to be done to accomplish our mission on the ground – being the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus. That means not only do we minister to the people living in the disaster zone, but also we must take care of those who have come from all over the country to minister to the people in the disaster zone. And we have people from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Alabama. We have people from St. Clair Association, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Baldwin Association, and us. We want to keep our people happy, and the one thing that makes people the happiest – except for the food – is the shower trailer. Alabama is sporting a brand new one that is on its maiden voyage. And as with most things, we are trying to work out the kinks. First, we had to level the trailer out so that the water would drain correctly. Then we had to check out one of the tires that had locked up on the trip here. Then we had to fill two of the propane bottles – except that one of them was filled. Finally, we had to get some lumber cut to use as cribbing for the jacks. So we have spent lots of time on the roads and in the local stores getting all the supplies we need.

And everywhere we went, local people were thanking us for being there to help them through this crisis. In fact, while we were walking through one parking lot, there was a dear lady who saw our yellow shirts and hats, and wanted to know if we could help her. She had no idea what to do to get her house “mudded out” so that they could begin the process of getting life back to normal. We took her information and got her on the list for assessment, and then we prayed for her. Right there in the Wal-Mart parking lot, the three of us – along with a huge teddy bear that she had just purchased – huddled together and prayed. When we were done, she apologized to Mark for the tears that covered his shirt. Mark told her that he would wear them proudly. That’s what disaster relief work is all about.

But our main goal is to minister to pastors who are hurting, and I can tell you that most of the pastors here are hurting. They are hurting because their homes and churches have been flooded, or they are hurting because their church members’ homes have been flooded. There is so much that needs to be done and not enough workers which means that it is taking too much time to get things done. We talked to two pastors today – one whose home was being worked on today and another who had been promised that he would be one of the first ones taken care of but is still waiting. He lives out in the country – outside one of the smaller towns in this area – and we just don’t have enough teams to get out there. But both of these pastors were at peace knowing that God is good and is walking with them through this valley. We talked with them and prayed with them and let them show us around their homes. We asked them what their specific prayer requests were: one wanted safety for his family and the other wanted strength to endure. Both are in need financially, but they are trusting in the Lord to take care of that aspect.

Sonya, my wife, and I have been talking about ways that these pastors could be blessed. Many of them have lost their libraries. One of the pastors we talked to today lost many of his sermon preparation books and commentaries. So wouldn’t it be nice if some of us pastors found a way to get these guys some good books? Wouldn’t it be nice if WordSearch and Logos and some of these other Bible software companies provide them some of these things free of charge or at a reduced rate? Perhaps Lifeway could join in? But then, what about providing a Sunday or two off for these pastors? Maybe some of the preacher boys at our Christian colleges could fill the pulpit for a week or two?  I know that there are lots of ways to minister, and perhaps you have some ideas. Why don’t you comment on this post, and I will make sure we get these ideas out there.

By the way, I said there were mixed emotions. People are hurting, but God is moving. Our hearts are breaking for them, but God is healing them through us and He is blessing us through them. That, by the way, is what I mean by mixed emotions.

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