“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what is the good in that?” James 2:15-16
The recent aftermath of Hurricane Florence has affected us all in profound ways. Some of our church family had minor damage to their homes and some more serious damage to their vacation homes at the NC coast. Others had family and friends in Eastern NC who were more seriously affected by floods or the brunt of the Hurricane force winds. A high school classmate of mine lost his home and most all his possessions. It was heart wrenching to hear him describe how his little boy had cried every night since the storm because he missed being in “his room” and wanted to know when he could go back home.
I don’t believe that any of us fully understands why natural disasters happen and why so many lives are adversely affected. There are storms in life, both literal and metaphorical, that simply are out of our control. While we may not understand why such events happen, or how God intends to use them in his master plan, we can clearly comprehend what scripture calls us to do in the aftermath. Those of us who have been blessed to be spared from the worst of the storm are in a fortunate position to be able to help our broth-ers and sisters in need. As we all begin to move on with our lives and normal routines, in communities to our south and east life is anything but normal. At times like this, being “the Church” means much more than sitting on a pew on Sunday morning. In the words of James 1:22 it means being, “doers of the word and not hearers only.” Now is the time that men and women of faith must spring into action to help our neighbors in need. If everyone who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ did just a little something, these communities that have been so devastated would be remarkably and swiftly transformed. The darkness of this natural disaster would be driven away by the glorious light of God’s love.
I am proud to say that Neill’s Creek Baptist Church, the Little River Baptist Association, and Southern Baptists as a whole have taken swift action to do our part. One of the greatest ministries of the Baptist Men is the feeding centers that are serving hundreds of meals in 9 different communities in our State. There will be countless mission teams sent out through Baptists on Mission and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to rebuild homes, churches, and lives that are currently in shambles. I am proud to say that we had 21 adults and youth from NCBC go out three times in the week following Florence. We cleaned 11 yards (mostly of senior adults), cutting up 10 trees, and clearing debris. In addition, our church partnered with Angier Baptist and Memorial Baptist to fill a tractor trailer truck with supplies which we delivered to Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, where my good friend Paul Burgess is Pastor. Winter Park was most appreciative of the food, water, cleaning supplies, baby supplies, generators, pet food, and clothing items that we donated. We filled up a room the size of our fellowship hall with these supplies which will be distributed to those most in need in the greater Wilmington area. I am proud to Pastor a church that responds quickly in a time of need. To God be the glory!
We know that roads can be repaired, roofs can be shingled, new furniture can be purchased, and flooded houses can be fixed. But those who have lost loved ones, family heirlooms, and the comforting sense of community have suffered losses that are deep and difficult to heal from. Many are depressed, desperate, and without hope. So in addition to our relief efforts, let us also commit to pray for our brothers and sisters with compassion in our hearts for their circumstances. Some of us remember well the fire at Neill’s Creek in 1984, so we know the sorrow of losing your place of worship, if even temporarily. May God move us to do whatever we can to help. And may the good news of the gospel bring hope and healing to all who are hurting. In the eye of the storm, God remains in the control!