Beacons of Hope

April 24, 2024 • United States

Lighthouse churches from around the country came to North Carolina to become better equipped to serve in Jesus' Name.

U.S. Disaster Relief

Lighthouse churches serve as beacons of hope to devastated communities and are an essential part of the work Samaritan’s Purse does during deployments across the country.

In the aftermath of disasters, our U.S. Disaster Relief teams rely on local congregations and church leaders to serve as the backbone of our efforts. These Lighthouse churches host our teams and provide a base of operations for our disaster relief units, staff, and volunteers, and help mobilize volunteers during a disaster response. Many of them also maintain Samaritan’s Purse disaster-equipped vehicles for local ministry and stand ready to deploy them at a moment’s notice. Without the hard work and leadership of these churches, our work could not be accomplished in disaster-affected communities.

Disaster Relief Vehicles are box trucks stocked with tools and other resources to aid churches in serving their communities when disaster strikes.

Training for Future Ministry

On April 16-19, dozens of volunteers from 39 Lighthouse churches from across the nation came to our training center in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to become better equipped to serve during a disaster. In addition to classroom sessions focused on ministry and deployments, they received hands-on training in tarping roofs, mudding-out houses, and using chain saws. Several of them got to practice their new skills by helping local homeowners who recently suffered damage to their houses when an EF1 tornado swept through the Wilkesboro area.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham greeted Lighthouse church volunteers who came to North Carolina for training.

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, spoke to the volunteers and thanked them for their service.

“Thank you for being a part of this ministry,” Graham said. “Our whole goal is to lift up the Name of Jesus Christ in everything that we do. We want to make Christ known, whether it’s in a war or disaster or wherever we serve. I’m pleased that so many of you see a storm, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to share Christ with those who are hurting.”

Seven of the churches that attended were given a new Disaster Relief Vehicle (DRV), a box truck fully equipped with tools and other resources to use in their communities whenever a storm, fire, or other calamity occurs.

Seven of the churches that came for training received new Disaster Relief Vehicles from Samaritan’s Purse.

Ryan Smith of Pursuit Church in Denver, North Carolina, was excited to receive one of the trucks.

“The truck is full of supplies that we are able to use for local missions,” he said. “I already have multiple projects ready to go that we’ll be using the truck for. It’s not going to just sit in our parking lot. It’s going to get dirty serving our community in Jesus’ Name.”

Calvary Chapel Central Bucks in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, was given a disaster vehicle from Samaritan’s Purse a few years ago, one of 47 currently in use. “It’s been a blessing to be able to evangelize using this tool,” Gary Ries, a volunteer from the church, said. “It’s given us opportunities to serve and love on people during disasters and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Staff and volunteers dedicated the Disaster Relief Vehicles to the Lord’s service.

The seven DRVs were commissioned at a ceremony on April 19. The Lighthouse church partners receiving the trucks, along with North American Ministries staff, joined in a circle to pray for God’s blessing on the vehicles and those they will serve. Jeremy Zerkle, church relations manager, reminded everyone that although the trucks and tools are amazing pieces of equipment, that it’s all about ministering to hurting people and sharing Christ’s love with them. “May everything we do point back to Jesus,” he said.

As for the training the group received, Ryan Wamsley of Avalon Missionary Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said, “The training is above and beyond what I expected. It’s training with excellence. Samaritan’s Purse does such a great job investing in people. The tools are great, the facilities are great, but the investment they take in people is phenomenal. What I like most is that Samaritan’s Purse puts Jesus at the forefront of everything that they do. And as a church that’s what we need to be doing too.”

Blaine Bagwell of The Rock in Jonesboro, Arkansas, agreed. “The training has been fantastic,” he said, “from emergency management and contact protocol to how to better use a chain saw and tarp a roof. It’s been a wealth of knowledge. Everything that I came here to learn, I learned.”

Please pray for these Lighthouse Churches as they serve the hurting in their communities and share with them the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Volunteers from 39 churches across the country left their training at Samaritan’s Purse facility in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, better equipped to serve their communities.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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