Life-Changing Storms

August 3, 2012 • United States

Samaritan's Purse finishes our work bringing relief to homeowners impacted by disasters in four states

Samaritan’s Purse finishes our work bringing relief to homeowners impacted by disasters in four states

When the Samaritan’s Purse team left Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday after helping dozens of homeowners affected by the Waldo Canyon fire, it marked the end of a disaster response that lasted nearly three weeks.

It also was the culmination of a relief effort that lasted for six weeks and included thousands of volunteers who helped hundreds of people impacted by disasters in five locations, across four states.

Samaritan’s Purse responded to multiple disasters in June and July. There were wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado, and flooding in Minnesota and Florida. Our staff and volunteers were based in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colo.; Ruidoso, N.M.; Moose Lake, Minn.; and Crawfordville, Fla.

Whether sifting through ash left behind by a fire or removing damaged drywall, water, mud, and debris from flooded homes, the volunteer teams made it clear that they were working in the Name of Jesus Christ. By their actions and their words, they conveyed the message that God cares. The message was reinforced when the volunteers prayed with the homeowners and presented a Bible signed by the team once the job was completed.

“The homeowners still echo the fact that it’s the people, the servants, the volunteers that touch them the most,” said Wayne Shoemaker, program manager for the response in Colorado Springs. “There are so many smiles and great expressions of joy and thankfulness.”

Their witness, along with the presence of rapid response chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association who were always ready to share the Gospel, resulted in 50 people expressing faith in Jesus Christ.

In Ruidoso, a lightning strike started a massive wildfire that destroyed 44,000 acres and 254 homes and business. Our teams sifted through ashes and debris to help them recover items of sentimental value. The deployment ended with 115 completed work orders, 374 total volunteers, and the renewed faith of a 17-year-old boy who was volunteering with his grandfather.

“He made a profession of faith a few years ago but realized he was drifting from God, and he rededicated his life to Christ,” program manager Brent Graybeal said.

In Fort Collins, the High Park Fire destroyed more than 250 homes. We were able to work on 65 homes with the help of 690 volunteers. On the last day of work, a mother brought her two children to the Disaster Relief Unit so they could see how we were working to help their neighbors. While the children were listening to the presentation, they also heard about the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They, along with their mother, made life-changing decisions.

“God has been so faithful in supplying our every need and has allowed us to once again witness the Holy Spirit working as we welcome three new brothers and sisters into the family of God,” program manager Tony McNeil said.

In virtually every disaster response, Samaritan’s Purse relies on volunteers from out of town. But in Colorado Springs, we only needed local volunteers. More than 1,700 people volunteered to sift ash and remove debris in 156 homes.

People from many different faith backgrounds came to help, including a member of the Mormon church. After spending several days in morning devotions, hearing about Christ during evening share times, and talking with our staff and volunteers, she understood Jesus’ divinity and redemptive work on the cross and accepted Him as her Savior.

“It was a glorious announcement and angels rejoiced in the heavens,” Shoemaker said.

More than 130 people volunteered in Moose Lake after record rainfall of up to 10 inches in less than 24 hours caused widespread flooding in the town of 2,750 people. We were able to help 110 homeowners. Toward the end of the deployment, a team went back to a home where volunteers had removed flooring days earlier to spray for mold. The first team of volunteers had led the son to Christ. The second team led the father and daughter to Christ.

Tropical Storm Debby flooded the rural area in Crawfordville, Fla., in the last week of June. The site closed July 6 after a few days of work. The team consisted of 75 volunteers who completed 12 work orders during their stay.

Please pray for the families who were affected by these disasters as they recover, and that God will continue to provide the resources and volunteers for our U.S. disaster relief projects.