In the midst of the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy there gleams a bright orange glow of hope. There are teams of volunteers working countless hours together with one vision: to share the love of Christ by selflessly cleaning and repairing storm damage, no matter what.
This is the kind of love, sacrifice and beautiful attitude that I dream for my children.
The volunteers in orange shirts are people that live in the storm-torn areas or close enough to travel to them easily. They join under the leadership of the non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan’s Purse has the tools and leadership ability to rally local volunteers to touch lives by simply helping them clean up. When they are called on by a local church, they eagerly arrive with the joy of helping organize the clean-up efforts and in the process touch lives with God’s love.
They do not go into anyone’s homes uninvited. Sometimes it is a church member’s house they start in, and as the volunteers work, others see them and ask “what is going on?” Once they hear, they gladly accept the help! Then, it is through the simple act of tearing up soggy floors or tree limbs that conversations begin. No preaching, just honest questions of “why are you doing this?” Open doors, open hearts. The best kind.
Brent Graybeal, Samaritan’s Purse program manager currently in Ocean County, N.J., shared one of the most touching stories I have heard all year and I just had to share it with you!
The first home they began cleaning up in Ocean County, N.J. was owned by a single mom of 2 children. Before Samaritan’s Purse arrived she had already been working for 2-3 days just with her and her family. Asking her church family for help was a huge step for her. Samaritan’s Purse started to organize the clean up in her neighborhood and received calls from 120 volunteers, eager to help! On Friday when they arrived at her door, all 120 people, she was so overwhelmed she could barely talk! Then, the very next day, they had more than 200 volunteers going door-to-door cleaning up houses, moving trees, removing flooded materials and fixing damaged homes! Brent Graybeal reports that three people made decisions for Christ that day!
He said the most memorable was a 23 year old woman who accepted Jesus into her heart because she said, “If Samaritan’s Purse can love me, Jesus can too.”
That gives me chills.
Graybeal said Samaritan’s Purse will stay in New Jersey and New York as long as they are needed, which he projected could be a few more months yet, since the need is so incredibly high. You can interact with Samaritan’s Purse on Facebook to stay connected with their efforts in NJ and New York.
What is Samaritan’s Purse?
They are an international Christian relief organization. They have trucks, tools and leaders and when a church calls them in, they arrive ready to train and equip volunteers to help clean up the areas of great need. I remember hearing about how they arrived in Joplin Missouri – they stayed there for a few weeks helping people clean up after the Tornado.
How can I help?
Go check out their volunteer network page. It is full of the latest projects that need volunteers and how to join them. You can also donate monetarily if you cannot be there in person.
What do I do if my area needs their help?
They are always looking for churches to partner with in hard-hit areas (more than 50 homes – give or take – in need). If your church wants to partner with Samaritan’s Purse, tell them to contact them today.
Now I leave you with a video of the Ocean County, New Jersey area, taken from a helicopter. I am continually praying for the healing of the people affected, this is heartbreaking. But it is also so encouraging to know there are Christians with a servant’s heart who are helping bring restoration to their neighbors.
Not that it is needed, but I received no compensation for this post. I was just thrilled with the opportunity to hear about what one of my favorite organizations was doing on the east coast after Hurricane Sandy.