Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Was Wearing Sunday

I am trying to imagine myself still wearing what I had on Sunday.

Not taking into account any physical harm I try to put myself in the shoes of someone who survived the F5 tornado that hit Joplin Missouri. The best case scenario would mean that I was still wearing what I had on Sunday evening, these clothes would no doubt have been wet and dry several times, soaked with sweat as I helped search through rubble, most likely torn by the sharp protrusions and covered with the thick mud drying in coats and smears as use my shirt to clean off family photos and anything else I can identify.

Maybe I'd have shoes on, maybe not. Without a phone and no available vehicle, I would be reduced to counting the streets without signs as I make my way to my family's homes, on foot. Without a doubt there would be tears. Lots of tears.

Sunday evening when I was having my momentary power outage the same system stormed through Joplin Missouri with deadly force. For the inhabitants of that city, there was far more change than just a flicker of darkness. Life will not be the same for a long while.

As we look through the mangled images and the echoed stories make their way out of the rubble we are stunned, shocked into silence.

Speechlessness is a physical reaction we have to being completely overwhelmed. We all imagine the horror of having lived through such devastation, and our empathy engages as we contemplate what life would be like for us in today and tomorrow if we had been hit. Then we are grateful we weren't. It's alright to be grateful it wasn't us. But only in the respect that it means our lives are still intact thus making us able and available to minister to them.

A sense of relief is normal. And empathy for those who have lost everything is right. But having both relief and empathy and then walking away....doing wrong.

Yesterday stories were pouring in, of how those who are related to us in some way, were forever altered by the storm. A previous staff member of our church, who has recently relocated, relayed the story of her aunt who works for Walmart in Joplin.

As the storm approached and sirens went off, her aunt instructed several customers to take shelter under the cashiers station with her and in the one next to her. When the roof of the Walmart building collapsed, a main beam fell on a young married couple right next to her, killing them both. Although her aunt survived, she spent the night with the dead and dying before her rescue on Monday. There was no care flight or ambulance sirens.

In the same family, a cousin of our former employee was in the local Walgreens when the storm hit. Everyone in the store crowded into the cooler for safety.

When they emerged after the worst had passed, the cooler was the only thing untouched on an empty slab that was the store.

Out of the misery come songs of the miraculous.

When devastation hits, and some would wonder if God truly cares, we are to live up to the name we herald, 'the Bride of Christ'. If He is our Groom, we must show ourselves worthy of His name by demonstrating His nature in the earth. When we sing the words to Him, "break our hearts for what breaks yours," we must acknowledge the breaking when it comes.

Physically, it isn't me wearing the muddy clothes, clinging to hope and searching through the unrecognizable remains of my life. But spiritually it is me.

Proverbs 31:20- She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Our dear friends, Billy and Jeanie Coffman pastor a church not far from Joplin.
They were some of the first responders with supplies but have already exhausted their food reserves. As we spoke to them yesterday, Pastor Mike wired them money to buy more food in a nearby city, immediately. Our friend and colleague, Kim Clement, instantly responded by sending more money. Jeanie Coffman told us that other than food and water, the most pressing need is for towels and bedding. Just to have something clean and dry is like experiencing heaven for the soaked, muddy and cold survivors. We are filling two trucks today and tomorrow with new towels, sheets and blankets that will make their way north to the victims as soon as they are full.

It is not good for us to see so much devastation around the world and then feel as if there is nothing we can do. There is much to do! This is the time for us to act, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need.

Please go to and give now.

Every dollar means the greatest difference. Pastors Billy and Jeanie are specifically set up with a mobile kitchen to cook hot meals for those in need, which is everyone in the area. All money will go straight to the cause. After our initial run of blankets and towels, we will be sending teams to assist in the clean up and restoration effort.

After you give, please pray! We need to agree that God gives insight to the weary search and rescue teams, so they are able to locate the suffering and trapped. We need to pray for closure for families who have lost members that are yet found. We need to pray and agree that hope will emerge and as resources flow toward Joplin, so will spiritual, physical and emotional healing come.

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