It has been so exciting for us as a church to be a launching pad of service and help after Hurricane Irma. Hundreds of our own people have been blessed by the various relief organizations on our campus, the tireless work crews, gifts of the bare necessities of life, and the sacrificial service of volunteers who have come from all over our nation and even Canada. Your pastors have selflessly worked day and night.
One of the workers with the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief team shared with me about going into the home of a Muslim family. The wife showed Chip a large mosaic of 90 tiles describing Allah’s revelation of himself. She was surprised when only one of the tiles fell down during the storm. Her husband who understood Arabic noted that one tile spoke of how someone would come to show the way to the true religion. She commented to our Christian friend, “I think God is trying to tell me something.” He shared with her Hebrews 1:2: “In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son” and “not just to our fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1). Jesus is Lord! Certainly the true God was trying to get this dear woman’s attention through a storm, a witness, the Word, and by the Holy Spirit.
The world has also taken note that we are seeking to love in Jesus’ name. Fox News filmed a man in a devastated mobile home park near Davis Blvd. The national coverage recorded his anger that no one from the government had been by yet with food, water, or other assistance. Then he said, “No one has been here yet (from the government); the only ones who have helped us is the First Baptist Church.”
Please do not forget that your church also has needs. Missing an entire week of worship services and organized ministry, as well as one week of Bible and Life Groups, Home Groups, and Men’s and Women’s Ministries, has created a great hole in our budget. I urge you to help us to catch up with our financial needs. We have spared no expense to provide shelter in the storm, housing for the relief workers, and constant work by our staff for the community.
I received an email on September 11 from Dr. Paul Negrut, a wonderful pastor and President of Emanuel University and Seminary in Romania saying that they were praying for us: “If there is anything we can do to help families who have lost everything, let us know. As the poor Macedonians helped the saints in Jerusalem during the times of the apostle Paul, even so we are willing to help Floridians.” I thank God for their “wealth of generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2) and for God’s mercy when Irma came calling.