It was late April and we were still in Colorado helping with those affected by the flooding from last
September. We had just moved into an apartment at The River Church and were beginning to
unpack and get settled in. We found out that tornado activity was likely to be high the next
several days and we prayed that nothing would come of the forecast. Unfortunately there were 75
confirmed tornados that touched down from April 27-30.
We were immediately contacted by Pat from Oneonta, AL and then Doug from Cleveland, TN. We
had met Pat in Louisiana doing relief work after Gustav and he helped us there and a year later in
Georgia after a flood. Doug serves with the Samaritan Center in TN and we had served with them
on three separate tornado trips in the past near his home.
Pat asked if we could come in and help, and Doug was looking to go and help. We put the two of
them together and Doug assessed the needs in the area. We were 90% sure we were headed out
and 90% sure Oneonta would be our destination, but we wanted to get someone on the ground first.
The next thing we knew, after finishing up our commitments in CO, we were on the road to AL.
We immediately got to work tarping four structures as a lot of rain was forecast for the coming
weekend. Doug had already spent a couple of days with Pat and some other locals from Mountain
Pointe Ministries Church where Pat’s dad Bob is the pastor.
Bob and his wife Katrinka let Mary Jo and I stay at their home, and let Doug use their RV, and
then we began getting the church ready to house volunteers. We had to add a couple of electric
outlets, turn a bathroom with a toilet and a sink into a shower with a new sink and change the door
and set up wireless internet. Brian from Sarasota joined us and we finished up things at the
We had a lot of trees to cut. The roads, driveways and salvageable homes that had trees on them
had already been removed by neighbors and family members of those who were affected, but there
was still a lot of work to be done.
Lee and Pam from NC, Mike from Pittsburgh, regulars with our team, joined us for a week.
Darren, one of the pastors from CC Chattanooga who brought a team to OK last year, once again
came through with a great team of hard workers. While they were there, we served on three
different properties: an elderly couple in their mid 80’s who lost their home, another semi-retired
couple who also lost their home, and a widow who has a lot of damage to her home, but it wasn’t
totaled. We cut, dragged, moved and stacked about 150 trees that week. We grew especially
fond of Ron who was home every day and helped us as much as he physically was able. He was a
blessing to talk to and all of the guys really enjoyed hanging with him, though he thought he was
the one being blessed!
Mary Jo spent a day working with two mothers and their five kids from CC Birmingham. They were
between 3 and 8 years old and really wanted to come out and help. They helped pick up branches
and stones on the elderly couple’s property. The homeowners were majorly underinsured and
weren’t able to rebuild their home, but had enough money to buy and set up a double wide trailer
behind their totaled home and we had to get the land cleared for delivery and setup. They were a
huge help, but Mary Jo ended up spraining her ankle.
Doug, Brian and I also worked on another widow’s home, her even older parents’ home, a young
couple’s home who couldn’t get a tree down by themselves and a disabled vet’s home.
A lot of the people weren’t around when we were at their homes, but the ones that were we were
able to share a little with. Mary Jo spent some time drinking ice tea and conversing with a few of
the ladies. Of course our time encouraging and being encouraged by Ron was priceless and we were
extremely blessed to meet him and his wife Sally.
The disabled vet, JB came out to thank Doug and me and gave us something to drink. We took
some time to rest and get refreshed and conversed about several things. Eventually our
conversation turned to a “religious” nature. It was clear to me that JB was a Muslim. JB began
telling me things that he had gone through in the Army and afterwards and the different Christians
he had met and churches he’d attended. He actually said he liked attending church, even though
they were Christian churches, because he enjoyed the singing and reading of the Bible.
Unfortunately though JB said that he has been turned off far too often by people who claim to be
Christians, yet live lives that are full of hate and contempt and don’t seem to follow anything that
he hears preached at the churches he’s attended.
I often times wonder in today’s “Christian” societies, do we really practice what Jesus preached? I
remember the story of the woman caught in adultery and one by one her accusers disappeared until
only Jesus was left. He asked her what happened to her accusers and she replied that they were
gone. He then told her that He didn’t condemn her and then told her to go and sin no more!
According to the Bible, the world apart from Christ has no other choice but to sin and this should
not surprise us. What should surprise us is when “Christians” sin. It is also clear in the Bible that
Jesus hung out with sinners and He didn’t condemn them. Who did He condemn? Those who
claimed to know God and lived lives of hypocrisy while they condemned the world!
What about our churches? Do we teach the Bible and that sin is sin and all have sinned yet by
God’s grace and mercy if we allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He can make us into who He wants
us to be and bring us with Him into eternity in Heaven? Are sinners welcome to sit in our pews?
JB didn’t commit to going back to church; he didn’t give his life to the Lord that day; he didn’t do
anything else that I can tell you about. We had more work to do, it was hot and he had other
things going on. We said our good-byes and as he thanked us, he not only thanked us for cleaning
up his yard, but he also thanked us for acting like the Jesus in the Bible he had read about and not
condemning him for who he is. I pray that seeds of who Jesus truly is were planted in his heart
that day and that those seeds would peck away at his heart until one day he turns his life over to
the one true God, Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Please pray for JB, Ron, and all the rest of the folks who the Lord allowed us to be part of their
lives. Pray that they will be eternally changed to follow The Lord so that one day we can all
rejoice in heaven together, forever!