North Carolina Family Comes Home for Christmas

December 21, 2020 • United States
Andy Beauchamp, the Samaritan's Purse Whiteville area rebuild project superintendent, presents Michael Register with a "Paid in Full" plaque at the dedication of his new home.
Andy Beauchamp, the Samaritan's Purse Whiteville area rebuild project superintendent, presents Michael Register with a "Paid in Full" plaque at the dedication of his new home.

A homeowner in the southeastern town of Whiteville receives a new home through our Hurricane Florence rebuild project.

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Michael Register had given up and accepted that his days would never be the same after Hurricane Florence stole his home and stripped away anything resembling a normal and comfortable routine.

The day he moved in was a day of great joy for Michael and many others in his family.

The day he moved in was a day of great joy for Michael and many others in his family.

So, when Samaritan’s Purse staff came to talk with him about the Hurricane Florence home rebuild program in Whiteville, North Carolina, Michael was both shocked and grateful.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Michael said. He leaned back in his chair and pressed his fingers against his eyes, trying to coax the welling tears to stay put instead of spilling onto his face.

“Give me a minute,” he said, pausing and trying to regain composure, overwhelmed as his thoughts drifted back to the day when, after months of despair, the first sparkle of hope began to dance and shine against what had become Michael’s normal backdrop of darkness.

“I’ll never forget that day…”

That day, Jackie Williams, a Samaritan’s Purse case worker for the rebuild program, shared with Michael about our efforts to rebuild in the Whiteville/Lumberton area. They began the process of determining if Michael would qualify for a new home.

At first, Michael was cautiously optimistic, hesitant to get his hopes up only to have disappointment send him crashing back down. Michael had become a very different person in the months following the hurricane.

The Storm Brought Him Low

“I was low, I was so low,” he repeated. “I was depressed. I’ve always believed in God, but I was low. I had lost faith. I was in really bad shape.”

Michael remembers every hour in September 2018 as the floodwaters crept up a little bit higher around his home.

“I had no idea the water would ever get up as high as it did. It got deeper and deeper—deeper than I’d ever seen it,” Michael said. “Things outside started floating around. I figured it was time to get out. I had stayed as long as I could.”

Michael had to wait three weeks for floodwaters to recede before he could return home, and the scene that greeted him was unlike anything he’d ever seen. “I wish I could explain it,” Michael said. “You could just smell it. Debris was everywhere. It was depressing.”

“I had lost faith. I was in really bad shape.”

The ceiling had caved in, floors sagged, and nearly all of his personal belongings were destroyed. His house was ruined.

Michael moved around a lot after the storm, even sleeping in his truck for a few days. He eventually secured a very small, partially functioning camper, but it wasn’t a long-term housing solution.

Family and Friends Celebrate

Michael did qualify for a new home and Samaritan’s Purse sent a team to begin work preparing the foundation. It was only at that point that Michael felt like he could finally breathe a sigh of relief as his hopes were turning into reality. “I thought, ‘Man, this is really going to happen!’”

Curtis Bradley, construction foreman on the project, leads prayer at the home with Michael, his family along with our staff and volunteers.

Curtis Bradley, construction foreman on the project, leads prayer at the home with Michael and his family, along with our staff and volunteers.

Michael worked on his new home alongside the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers that first day and continued to work with them nearly every single day until the home was ready.

Finally, on Thursday, Dec. 17, on the property where once stood a home beyond repair, a much different sight welcomed Michael. Family members, as well as Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers, joined him just one week before Christmas to celebrate the finished construction and to dedicate his new home to God.

“Samaritan’s Purse has done so much in this area it’s unreal. But I know how Samaritan’s Purse does it—it’s God,” Michael said. “It’s amazing what God can do through willing people.”

During the dedication ceremony, Michael was presented with a Bible, a photo album, and a journal signed by all the volunteers who worked on his home. He was then given the keys to his new home.

Andy Beauchamp, Samaritan’s Purse project superintendent in Whiteville, also gave Michael a special commemorative bill for the expense and labor that went into building the home. But across the bill was written “Paid in Full” in red—a reference to the truth that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of sins. Michael’s home was provided as a free gift, an expression of God’s grace, through the faithful support, prayers, and hard work of brothers and sisters in Christ.

The ceremony was especially meaningful to Jackie, who has encouraged Michael and prayed for him since the beginning.

“I couldn’t wait to come and tell him he was approved for a home. I was so ecstatic I couldn’t stand it,” she said. “You could immediately see everything change. He’s had an about-face change.”

That’s what Jackie enjoys the most about her work—seeing lives transformed. “You see that spark come back in their eyes,” she said. “We all go through valleys. Sometimes we just need encouragement and to be refreshed.”

Faith and Life Restored

Christmas will truly be a time of rejoicing for Michael. Not only is his home rebuilt, his faith and relationship with God have also been restored. Though Michael walked through many troubled nights after Hurricane Florence, God has brought him through the trials.

“God said there would be joy in the morning. It’s here, through Samaritan’s Purse,” he said. “I have fellowship with God again.”

Michael said he is closer to God than ever before and what he feels most in his heart is the peace of Jesus Christ.

“Nothing is impossible with God. If God is in it, it will all work out.”

Michael celebrates with family, including his daughters, sons in law, and grandchildren.

Michael celebrates with family, including his daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Samaritan’s Purse has completed 15 rebuild projects in the Whiteville/Lumberton area, provided 35 manufactured homes, and repaired 37 homes. Please continue to pray for our staff serving in Jesus’ Name, and for the families who are moving back into their homes and trying to move forward after the devastating storm. Pray that God’s love and peace would overwhelm their hearts this Christmas.

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of 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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