The Body of Christ

April 15, 2011 •

Staff writer Chelsea Pardue (pictured above) reports from Pulaski, Virginia, where Samaritan’s Purse is helping tornado victims.

Several areas in Pulaski still look completely normal. Not even the leaves look disturbed by the tornado that hit the region on April 8. But in other areas, rows of houses have roofs torn off, foundations shifted, or trees littered throughout their yards. The destruction is heartbreaking.

Our staff arrived shortly after the storm twisted away. Volunteers started arriving Tuesday afternoon. Their dedication to helping others is astounding.

I’m here because I was told to come here. I’m not sacrificing a lot. But most of the volunteers here are taking time off work and away from their families to show God’s love to other people. The way they give so selflessly is beautiful.

Yesterday, I took some time away from interviewing to work in a family’s yard. I moved some debris into piles on the side of the road, and I stacked wood after it had been cut into logs. My small amount of experience helped me understand how hard these volunteers work.

I met Jennifer Ward as she was sweeping glass out of a woman’s yard. Ward recently returned to the U.S. from Uganda, where she worked at a malnutrition center. She is living in Blacksburg, Va., while she looks for a job. When she heard about the opportunity to volunteer close to home with Samaritan’s Purse, she knew that she should see firsthand the work we do.

“I think it’s amazing,” Ward said. “I especially like that they try to target people that aren’t getting help other places—people who aren’t insured or elderly people who don’t have anyone else to help them.”

Because Ward isn’t currently working, it seemed like a perfect time for her to come. God was also working in the lives of other volunteers to open doors for them. Jim Lovelace, a surgeon from Christiansburg, Va., found an opportunity when he normally wouldn’t have had one.

“I just want to share Christ’s love with people in need,” Lovelace said. “I normally do surgery on Thursday mornings, but my surgery schedule was empty, and I got an email from my church that said they needed help with Pulaski relief. I think that was God sending me a message. So here I am. It’s incredible.”

The volunteers leave for their work sites around 8 each morning, and they return around 5. As the sun beats down and their arms grow weary of wielding chainsaws and carrying debris, they continue to smile.

“It’s great to see the body of Christ come from all over the place and pitch in to help people who can’t help themselves,” Ward said. “It’s a really good way to model the love of Christ.”

Homeowners are surprised to see the cheerful willingness with which our volunteers help them. It is the smiles on their faces and the warmth in their eyes that invites complete strangers to witness the love of Christ.

Christ’s love is simple. It is unconditional. It can be understood between best friends and complete strangers. It is the way we show people the nature of God, and it is the reason people desire to know Him.

I’m thankful for volunteers who sacrifice their time and money to show people the simple love of Christ. They are the reason homeowners receive both physical and spiritual aid.