A Fresh Start in Louisiana

November 22, 2016 • United States

A disaster relief volunteer commits his life to God and takes to heart his mother's last words

Melissa Lilley is a staff writer for Samaritan’s Purse. She recently traveled to Louisiana to cover our disaster relief work.

I met Steven and Tammy at our deployment site in Gonzales, Louisiana. The couple was staying at a shelter nearby because the room they were renting had flooded and they had nowhere else to go.

Louisiana Disaster Relief

Steven and Tammy helped homeowners in Gonzales recover from the flooding.

More than 100,000 homes across 20 parishes were affected when catastrophic flooding swept across south Louisiana in mid-August. As much as 31 inches of rain fell across the region in one horrifying weekend.

When Steven and Tammy saw the Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team trucks parked outside the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, they had to find out what was going on. Steven told me how grateful he was for the volunteers and chaplains who welcomed them in and took time at the end of a busy Saturday to just listen.

Steven shared that his pain went beyond suddenly becoming homeless. After years of refusing to live for Jesus, he was finally tired of running from God.

“I wanted to come back to God,” Steven said, but he had no idea how.

Steven and Tammy had only been married a year, and the newlyweds were struggling in their relationship. Steven was also grieving the loss of his mother, Eva, who had died just one week earlier. Before her death, during her last moments with Steven, Eva encouraged her son to get his life back on track.

“She said, ‘Serve God.’ She told me that three times. She told me she wasn’t afraid [to die],” Steven said.

Louisiana Disaster Relief

Tammy helped remove molding drywall while serving with Samaritan’s Purse.

At this point the 41-year-old couldn’t control his grieving tears.

“I wanted healing for her so bad,” he said.

Our staff shared the Gospel and prayed with Steven, and that night he rededicated his life to Jesus. Steven was so excited that he and Tammy joined staff and volunteers in worship the next day.

They also decided it was time to start serving God and for the next few days joined our volunteers on job sites. They worked hard removing debris, water-logged belongings, and moldy drywall and insulation.

Serving brought Steven and Tammy closer together.

“My wife and I bonded,” Steven said. “We repented, and we’re back on track.”

Now, Steven is ready to start fresh and honor God—and his mother—with his life.

“It’s all for the glory of God,” he said. “Don’t give up. God is our anchor.”

With a renewed faith and commitment to Jesus, Steven has finally found what’s been missing in his life for so many years.

“I’m home,” he said. “You don’t know how good it feels to be home.”

Editor’s Note: Our initial recovery response is winding down in Louisiana, but we need volunteers for the rebuild phase of this response. Volunteers will help repair and restore homes throughout flooding-devastated communities.