In the Wake of Hurricane Laura, Veterans Become an Answer to Prayer

September 15, 2020 • United States
Our teams are hard at work across four different sites in Louisiana. Watch this video to find out more about our relief efforts.

Samaritan’s Purse Team Patriot members and many other volunteers are serving families in need following Hurricane Laura’s devastating blow to the Louisiana coast.

Team Patriot volunteers at work in Louisiana.

Team Patriot volunteers at work in Louisiana.

As Hurricane Laura’s 150 mile-per-hour winds threatened to batter the coastline of Louisiana, Rafe David and his wife Mary were prepared to stay in their Lake Charles home of 25 years. The couple had evacuated for major storms like Rita and Ike over the years only to return home to minor damage. They expected the same from Hurricane Laura.

However, as the storm migrated closer to shore, Rafe had the growing sensation that this time would be different—they needed to leave. That decision turned out to be a good one.

“I didn’t expect the aftermath I came home to,” Rafe said. “This was a monster of a storm. With the destruction that we’ve seen, I’m glad we didn’t stay.”

Hurricane Laura’s Category 4 winds toppled several massive trees surrounding the couple’s house, preventing them from returning home to stay. As Rafe surveyed the damage, he had absolutely no idea how he would clear it all himself. Four back surgeries and an injured neck prevent him from doing any heavy lifting or standing for long periods of time.

“I’m limited to my abilities, my body can’t handle it,” Rafe said. “I actually prayed, ‘I can’t handle this. It’s just too much.’”

The couple couldn’t afford to pay the thousands of dollars that several contractors had quoted to remove the several downed trees. That’s when Rafe heard about Samaritan’s Purse—in disbelief that volunteers would do the same work for free.

Volunteers work hard to tarp the roof at Rafe David's home.

Volunteers work hard to tarp the roof at Rafe David’s home.

As one volunteer said, “We do it for free, because Jesus paid it all.”

Those who helped clear Rafe’s yard and lift an emotional burden for him were a special group of wounded veterans and their spouses who serve through our Team Patriot program. The program allows couples affiliated with Operation Heal Our Patriots, the Samaritan’s Purse project aimed at strengthening military marriages, to provide relief to hurting communities following disasters.

“I thank God for everything,” Rafe said. “He’s brought angels to help us. The volunteers have helped my father-in-law; they’ve helped my neighbor. I never would have thought that there would have been people that were able to help. They’re angels—every one of them.”

A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE

As Team Patriot members Kevin and Amanda Kennedy drove into Lake Charles, Louisiana, they were struck by the widespread and dramatic devastation caused by Hurricane Laura.

Team Patriot volunteers Kevin and Amanda Kennedy.

Team Patriot volunteers Kevin and Amanda Kennedy.

“You feel bad for the people because some of them lose everything in that matter of time when a hurricane comes through,” Kevin said. “In an hour, everything is gone,” Amanda added.

The couple helped hurting families, including Rafe and Mary, to remove downed trees, clear debris, tarp roofs, and salvage personal belongings. They were grateful for a chance to serve others in need.

Married for 10 years, Kevin and Amanda attended a week of Biblically based marriage enrichment in Alaska in 2019 through Operation Heal Our Patriots. They applied to the program in 2018, but they thank God that His timing was perfect—knowing that the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for their marriage.

“If we would have gone the year before, I don’t think we would have gotten anything out of it,” Kevin said.

Kevin served in the U.S. Army for three years before constant back pain forced him to be med-boarded and discharged in 2012. Shortly after, he received back surgery while Amanda was pregnant with their second child. His injury took a toll on their marriage and caused him to separate himself from his family. “Kevin was very distant—distant with me and our kids,” Amanda added.

Volunteers are clearing trees and yard debris across southern Louisiana.

Volunteers are clearing trees and yard debris across southern Louisiana.

The Alaska week of marriage enrichment classes and wilderness excursions helped the couple reconnect and heal emotional wounds. “For me, it was ‘this is either going to be what makes us or what breaks us,’” Amanda said.

Through daily counseling sessions, the couple learned how to be vulnerable with one another and strengthen their communication practices. Not only was the experience emotionally healing, but spiritually as well.

While in Alaska, Amanda recommitted her life to the Lord and Kevin made a first-time decision for Christ. “I realized that enough is enough,” Kevin said. “I needed to make a change—get closer to Amanda, my kids again, and God.”

The couple has only grown closer together and closer to God in the year since their visit to Alaska. And, this is Kevin’s fifth time providing relief to devastated communities through Team Patriot.

“It’s good to get out and help other people—be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Kevin said.

Team Patriot’s work is just a small part of what Samaritan’s Purse is doing in four locations to help hurting Louisiana families recover from the hurricane. Each day, volunteers in Lake Charles, DeRidder, Jennings, and DeQuincy go out into the hardest-hit communities to help remove downed trees, clear debris, tarp roofs and salvage personal belongings.

For more information on how to volunteer, visit spvolunteer.org.

Please keep all of our volunteers and the families they are serving in your prayers as they continue to recover following Hurricane Laura.

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