The past few weeks have brought devastating natural disasters across the South. With the horrible tornados in Mississippi and Alabama, the amount of injury, death, and loss is mind boggling. Here in Memphis we were spared from the worst of the damage, but weeks of storms have left our waterways filled to the brim. Today it stormed MORE and dumped another several inches into the already overflowing areas.
My church, Hope Pres, has set up a shelter in our gym for some of those displaced. Over the past few days I have received several e-mails from our church leaders asking for help (donations, volunteer time)... I collected some supplies, gathered a few things and brought them with me to church today, and planned on signing up to put in some people time to volunteer at the shelter. This morning I got up and went to the EARLY service (which I've never done before, after almost two years of going there), and headed in my "regular entrance". I stopped at the machine outside the gym to get a Diet Coke, turned around, and tears were brought to my eyes. It was still early, so the lights in the gym were dim, but you could just see row after row of cots... It broke my heart and hit it all home. Then I got into the sanctuary, ready to listen to our new sermon series about trust. What was today's sermon about? Learning to trust God through change. Hello, relevance. It's funny how these sermon series are planned, and they often coincide during times that people really need them.
Tonight I signed up to work at the shelter for tomorrow, and again Wednesday. If I can get a sitter for Tuesday, I'll be up there then, too. I just felt SO called after seeing our neighbors camped out in the gym. The forecasts do not look good for the days ahead. The Mississippi River is already at the third highest stage in history, and it's expected to continue to rise over the coming days/week. Can y'all take a few minutes and say a prayer for our community, the people affected, and those of us helping those that are displaced? To continue to pray for those affected in the tornadoes?
This afternoon, I was talking about this to a family member. She said to me "I really only feel sorry for the kids" to which I replied, "...Well I hope that if that was ME in there, that someone would feel some compassion for ME, too, as well as the girls...". Her response was "I bet half of those people are just taking advantage of free food, clothes, and stuff." Now, it's not that she isn't a caring person, she has just gotten numb to the "hand-out" mindset that so many in our community have. It's easy to understand when you see people constantly asking for things... But all I could say was, "Well... I would rather have my help be taken advantage of than have someone need my help and me not be there." We all need to work together as the body of Christ... Especially in times like these! It's as easy as donating a bottle of shampoo, a pack of diapers, or spending a few hours cleaning the bathrooms or making a meal.