Editor’s Note: Jordan Christopher, managing producer for Alliance Video Magazine, experienced firsthand the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy during a recent visit to the hurricane-ravaged Metropolitan District. He shares here his thoughts about the visit.
Hurricane Sandy is not over. The effects of the superstorm are foremost in the thoughts of residents on Long Island, Jersey Shore, and Staten Island. So many have lost so much. It is devastating to see. But what is encouraging to witness is the outpouring of generosity and service, especially the work being done in Jesus’ name.
Watch the Video
Watch as Jordan Christopher, a managing producer of the Alliance Video office, describes firsthand his observations of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
At CenterPoint (Alliance) Church in Bellmore, flood waters destroyed recent renovations completed after Hurricane Irene’s damage a year ago. Pastor Brian McMillan says, “This is the most spiritually significant thing to happen in our area. Before the storm, the church was just a building. Now suddenly, people see Jesus through the lives of the Church body.
CenterPoint church members and Pastor McMillan, whose home next door to the church also was damaged, are reaching out to their neighbors to help with clean up and to encourage them. “People are in awe of the generosity,” he says. “They let us pray with them, saying they have to rethink who God is. Some are saying, ‘Your church is now my church.’”
In Manahawkin, King of Kings (Alliance) Community Church serves as a relief distribution center for other organizations, churches, and work teams. The church is set up with “stores” of food, supplies, and clothing. Volunteers take orders, fill shopping carts, and provide basic needs for grateful people.
“The storm washed the physical and spiritual foundation of our community clean,” says Bob Riconda, site coordinator. “This was once a place rich with strife between churches. Pastors have put aside differences and are working together as the Body of Christ, bringing people together in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time. The storm has created a starting point for fresh healing and restoration.”
The rubble on Staten Island is indescribable. Stacks of debris stand 4–6 feet high in front of most houses. Homeowners and volunteers are gutting houses, tearing out sheet rock and insulation and dumping the ruins on curbs for city trucks to eventually pick up.
New Hope (Alliance) Church’s Pastor Dave Beidel preached an abbreviated sermon in work boots and blue jeans. He was ready to resume relief efforts immediately after the service. New Hope is the center of ministry where many organizations meet to discuss strategy for how to mobilize the hundreds of volunteers.
Pastor Beidel’s mandate to his congregation is clear: “Your primary responsibility is to be the light of Christ. You have been given an opportunity to minister to your neighbors. Pray with them, bless them, and grieve with them in their loss.”
Faces of people returning to their homes for first time are etched in shock. City health inspectors have condemned many houses. Some people have lost all their possessions; either they have no insurance, or hurricane and flood insurance are not included in their coverage.
“They are left to salvage what they can,” says Yeathus Johnson, coordinator of urban relief. “Some stay, even with no power, because they fear looters will vandalize what’s left of their homes. There are reports of copper wiring being ripped from walls of abandoned homes. Fires have burned several houses because of exposed gas lines.”
It is amazing to see how church members are received from house to house; they are welcomed with open arms. Homeowners talk about how the church groups were first to come and the last to leave. It’s touching a lot of people.
Another resident says. “Everybody here lost everything. Some lost family, friends, and pets. It’s really sad. But the shining light in all of this is to see these good people here to help. I’m really so happy and so thankful. I have such gratitude for you guys. Keep up the good work. All I can say is thank you—thank you so much.”
One woman choked back tears. Astonished by the outpouring of love from Alliance workers who showed up at her house, she says, “I’m so touched, so grateful for the people helping us! God bless them all. I’ll be forever grateful.”
Truckloads of supplies have been donated to King of Kings, New Hope, and CenterPoint—so many provisions that organizers are unsure where to put them. I am reminded of Exodus 36 when the workers told Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”
But the work is not finished. Alliance people, whether skilled or unskilled, are needed to serve in whatever ways they can. All that is required are open hands and open heart. Find out how you can help at www.metrocmarelief.org. These hurting people need our love, our prayers, and our support. Let’s not forget them.
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A special fund has been created to gather funds to spearhead immediate relief efforts. Give to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and help CAMA, the relief and development arm of The Alliance, support these needs.
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Make your check out to “CAMA” and write “Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund” on the memo line. Then mail your gift to Compassion and Mercy Associates, P.O. Box 35000, Colorado Springs, CO, 80935-3500
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