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What a week we have had in South Carolina! Whew!
A week ago, Greg and I were bracing for the possibility that our house might flood and be lost, and that we may lose many of our possessions. The forecast was for 12-18+ inches of rain over a 36-48 hour period. We watched in horror on the news as large portions of our city and state began to be destroyed by the power of torrential, steady rain. Our house and most of our county were largely unscathed. There were a few roads that washed out and some neighborhoods that flooded.
Not far away, there was devastation. Roads turned into raging rivers. Dams broke. Thousands of people lost their homes. Entire towns had to be evacuated. Hundreds of roads were closed. Bridges washed out. Roads washed out. So far, 15 people have died in South Carolina alone. One of them was a man who was probably on his way to our church last Sunday morning – one of our choir members – who was found days later in his submerged car. Hundreds of people had to be rescued by boat or helicopter from their flooded homes and cars.
Rain has returned today – Saturday October 10th – and the risk of flooding and dams possibly breaking continues to be an issue. Greg works for the state of South Carolina and is on duty helping to monitor dams as I type this post.
WHERE WAS GOD IN THE MIDST OF THIS NIGHTMARE?
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, You were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts – are like filthy rags… No one calls on Your Name or strives to lay hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins… all that we treasured lies in ruins. Isaiah 64:4-7,11
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you”… Isaiah 43:1b-2a
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7
Two ladies from my church and I have been praying fervently for God to bring a Great Awakening to our church, to Columbia, SC and to our state. Sometimes, it takes something very distressing physically to wake us up spiritually. Perhaps God will choose to use this disaster to draw many to Christ and to strengthen His people and their faith? That is my prayer!
THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING!
- Lexington LICS – an interfaith community charity – reported asking for volunteers to help with the flood victims and over 700 volunteers showed up. They received so many donations that they had to ask people to stop bringing donations. It was too much!
- Kassy Alia whose husband (a police officer in Columbia) was shot and killed the Wednesday before, volunteered at Harvest Hope Food Bank early this week to give back to a community that had embraced her family with love and compassion in recent days. (Her pic is below, she has dark hair and a baseball cap and is helping put donations away.)
- South Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief – served over 7000 meals to people in need over two days this past week.
- First Baptist Columbia – many members, including children and teenagers, began showing up daily to bring donations, to help sort donations, and to help clean up flooded homes around town.
- Keith and Kristyn Getty – my favorite Christian artists, are coming to our church tomorrow evening to sing praise and worship songs to God with us. They have decided that the love offerings for all of their events in SC this weekend will go toward flood victims.
- Samaritan’s Purse and Shandon Baptist Church teamed up to help flood victims and to help clean up flooded homes.
- Churches and members of the community stepped forward to feed first responders every day this past week and to show gratitude for all they have done and are doing for our city and our state.
- Many organizations had so many donations – they asked people to stop bringing donations for a time, they were completely overwhelmed.
- At this point, 7 days into the disaster – we have had only 4 episodes of looting – and they were handled by our sheriff’s department quickly. The overwhelming message on the news and in our churches and neighborhoods is the kindness, compassion, and generosity of our people toward each other.
- Neighbors who didn’t know each other but were suddenly stranded with roads and bridges washed out – began to assemble together in their neighborhoods bringing supplies for their neighbors who had needs.
- Downtown Church decided to serve those in need by collecting dirty laundry and having people who can take it home to wash it and dry it and return it labeled back to the church.
- NewSpring Church started a Flood SC with Love campaign and has been collecting truck loads of supplies and distributing them to those in need.
- Teachers, parents, and students at local schools began to run donation centers and distribute clothes, water, and food to people impacted by the floods.
There are so many more stories! I can’t possibly share them all. My prayer is that God would continue to move among His people to love Him more deeply, to love and serve others and to be His hands and feet to our neighbors, our communities, our city, our state, our nation, and our world. I want to see His Spirit filling us to overflowing and flooding everyone we meet with His power, His truth, and the hope that only comes from Christ Jesus.
God is right here in our midst. His love is flooding our state.
What a joy to see His people reaching out to those in need. How I pray that many people will come to know Christ as Savior and Lord through this experience! And I pray God will bring us all to a place of deeper trust in Him, a deeper understanding of our total dependence on His sovereignty and provision, and a place of contrition before Him – that we might forsake our sins, receive the sacrifice of His death on our behalf, and turn to live holy lives that bring honor and glory to Him!
Images of Hope from http://www.WISTV.com
Additonal pics – Newspring church, First Baptist Church, Samaritan’s Purse: