Florence and the Church
by Billy Beasley
The aftermath of destruction wrought by Hurricane Florence continues as the rivers rise and cities, towns, and communities bear the brunt of this storm. Many people have lost everything. Apartment complexes have decided to tear down and gave their tenants very little notice to vacate. The Hampstead community has had families camping out on a soccer field. By the time this article is published the storm will have struck one month ago. There will still be people who in all likelihood will not have a place to live.
There are stories that would melt the hardest heart. Florence has wounded without respect of race, political affiliation, or economic class. There are over fifty deaths attributed to a Category One Hurricane.
One of the main roads into Wilmington, highway 421, is washed out and it will be quite some time before the road is passable once again.
And yet when I look back on this storm in a few years, when hopefully all that has been lost is rebuilt and people’s lives have returned to normalcy, I won’t forget the destruction, but it won’t be the main part of my memories.
I have watched churches both in our region and from all over our nation come to our aid. I see no denominational battles or the Christian Left or the Christian Right. Personally, I find those labels somewhat humorous. God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is his own party.
I have never witnessed a time when I looked around and saw God’s church more united. People have shown up and simply asked one question. “How can we help?” It has humbled me and given me hope.
Our church, Lifepoint, has had over 1,000 volunteers pitch in. Some of those people are not even part of our church. They simply wanted to help.
Mercy Chefs set up in the church parking lot, where they served over 20,000 hot meals to people in need and to our emergency personnel who had to leave their homes behind, some of which were damaged or destroyed, to serve the community.
This is just what I observed but I have heard from people throughout the region about how other churches did likewise. They fed, they clothed, they gave money, they cleaned yards, and mucked out people’s flooded homes.
One church donated thousands of dollars in gift cards to our church and a church in New Bern. The Post Office would not insure that much in gift cards. Two ladies drove from South Carolina to personally deliver the gift cards. It was probably an eight to ten hour round trip.
God’s church has done this. It has not been Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian Catholic, non- denominational, etc. It has not been churches that are predominantly black, white, Hispanic or any other race. This is what God’s church has looked like. Rolling up their sleeves and going to work.
My wife, Julie and I were blessed to work along side others giving out hot meals as we had a makeshift drive thru set up in front of our church. It was readily apparent that more than sorely needed food was being given. Hope was being distributed. People were reminded that they were not alone, and that people cared. Some wanted prayer and they received it as they waited for a hot meal. God’s church doing what I believe He designed it to do.
Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
About the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke. They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC.
Billy is the author of The River Hideaway- a traditionally published work of faith based fiction and the newly published novel, The Preacher's Letter. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’.
You can read Billy’s “Sunday Inspiration” column on the 2nd Sunday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.