Pastors have urged their congregations to get their hands dirty if need be to help others.
With Hurricane Florence continuing its trail of destruction in the Carolinas, the people in its wake have jumped in to help others less fortunate than them. For pastors of churches lying in its path, the present devastation is eerily alike to the massive damage wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Pastor Jimmy Stewart of Gulfport-located First Baptist Church is an active participant in the disaster relief team set up by the well-known Mississippi Baptist Convention. The team provides childcare and other resources like food. Efforts are also being made to collect money to help the Florence victims.
Florence's devastating nature destroyed the divide between first official responders, the houses of faith, and the victims. Other than the North Carolina churches, the only mosque present in Burlington also joined the relief effort. Other mosques in Virginia and Georgia have opened their gates to those who need help the most.
Members of the First Baptist Church are familiar with the cataclysmic damage wrought by nature's fury. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the original church structure and reduced it to a rubble pile. The church was then rebuilt at a new address. There is a silver lining though: members gained valuable knowledge in such a time of crisis and have since then used the skill to assist in rebuilding 700 residences all over the Gulf Coast. The church, post-relocation, sold its original land back to the city. The church leaders then squirreled away $100,000 from the sale proceedings and made it a seed offering for use as disaster relief. Pastor Stewart promised to match dollar for dollar for every donation made from the seed fund. The priest said that such good work glorifies God in heaven.
The Southern Baptists have established a comprehensive response operation. They have deployed mobile kitchens to cook thousands of meals. Workers equipped with shower units and chainsaws were sent all along the U.S. coast. Jim Pennington, the Temple Church's senior pastor, said that the situation is now so grave that saying "I love God," is not enough. It is vital to help others, and one must not be afraid to get hands dirty while doing that. Pastor Pennington himself spent last Friday in a kayak, pulling a number of stricken individuals out of the perilous water. Volunteers also told the stricken that they were not alone, and God is with them in times of difficulty.