In late January 2009, a winter storm hit Arkansas. In the Cherokee Village due to fallen trees. The storm
was the worst natural disaster in recent years, Over thirty people were reported to have died as a direct
result of the storm, and many more were seriously injured or their health worsened due to storm related
After the storm hit, a group from House of Luke Ministries in Hemet, CA wanted to respond to Arkansas to
help with the relief efforts. They had a group of eighteen people who could travel, but they had no tools
and very little experience in disaster relief/response. Pastor Tom, who leads the ministry and has family
and friends who live in the Cherokee Village area, had been praying about starting a men's ranch in the area
for about ten years. He felt the Lord telling him that this was the year so he had been making plans to
meet with local officials at the end of February. God, however, had a different plan and used the storms
to open up doors of ministry that otherwise may never have opened. Tom contacted CC Costa Mesa and
was directed to their disaster pastor and my friend and co-laborer, Tim Wylie. Tim called me on Sunday
and asked if we could go and help the efforts in AR. We prayed and decided that we would go and do what
we could. I contacted Chuckles and we made plans to get the needed supplies and to leave on Tuesday.
Earl Wiser, a young man from Buffalo who we had met the previous year cleaning up after the Tennessee
tornadoes, also decided to join us. He was tired of the cold and wanted to relocate to a new area and find
a job. He decided AR was as good a place as any to start, though I'm not too sure about the winters in AR
being any better than Buffalo, at least to a Floridian like me!
We got a late start and drove through the night, arriving just in time for breakfast. We met up with Earl
shortly thereafter and then contacted Pastor Tom's mom. She directed us to the First Baptist church
where we would be setting up camp. Once we unloaded our personal items, we headed to Tom's mom's
home as they were without a generator and had no way to pump water from their well. They had a small
generator that ran their refrigerator, but not enough amps for the pump. They also had a fireplace for
We dropped off the generator and headed out to get to work on the cleanup process. We got busy cutting
down trees and clearing debris. From there we were directed to another neighborhood where we met many
elderly and handicapped people who were all in dire need of our help. We immediately got busy helping out.
Late that evening, Tom and his crew arrived. Thursday we all went back to the neighborhood where we had
worked the previous day and received even more work to do. Tom had also been talking to the city officials
and they had work for us as well. We found a mobile home area and helped several people that were in
that area-single moms, grandmothers raising grandchildren, and many other needy people. We had many
opportunities to share Jesus' love and His message of hope for their lives!
There were some National Guard members and some power line people who were also staying at the church.
We invited them to our devotional times and two guys from the power line group joined us and gave their
lives to the Lord!
On Saturday we spent most of the day cleaning up the church property and also did some work in the
surrounding area. Sunday came and we attended the early church service. Tom and his group needed to
work on some video footage of the trip for their home church and decided to stay back at the church.
Chuckles, Earl and I headed out to do more work.
That's the last thing that I remember as I took a fall and evidently banged my head pretty bad. I didn't
pass out, but I don't remember a thing. I was taken to the hospital to make sure I was OK and then the
next thing that I remember, I was back at the church in the middle of a spaghetti dinner! Kind of weird,
but the most important thing is that God protected me from any bodily harm. I was sore, but not broken!
Chuckles decided that we should go home, so he packed us up and we headed out. Earl left the following
day and the others stayed on for a few more days and then left for CA.
We worked on a total of twenty-three homes in basically four days! We were busy and had many
opportunities to share and pray with others. But this didn't just happen without a struggle! I have not seen
as much spiritual attack on other trips as we had on this trip. Three team members were taken out of
action during this trip, some locals made false accusations about us and tried to force us out of town, and
Chuck and I had to leave early because of my fall. These are just the major ones that come to mind.
Tom and his team definitely gained favor with the local officials. Someone also donated a home with land
to start the ranch in AR. Praise God! Once I got home and heard the news of the donation, and how things
were moving forward on the new ranch, I was thanking God for choosing to use us in this endeavor.
And it does not end there! Back home I had been counseling a thirty year old male we’ll call J, who has
struggled for years with some life-dominating sins. I had come to the conclusion that he needed to totally
surrender his life to the Lord and come under a 24/7, Biblically-based, accountability program.
Unfortunately, he had not yet come to the same conclusion. Instead, he continued to drink and was asked
to move out of his home. He had just started working again so he had some money to rent a room. Because
he could not drive, he needed to live somewhere close to where he worked. He looked for several days and
the only place he could find that he could afford that was close to his work and his kids was right across
the street from my home! I might also mention that I had nothing to do with him finding this place; it was a
total God thing! Now here I am stuck at home with nothing to do because of my fall, and God sends J
across the street from me! I spent a few days counseling and reaching out to J and in his own words, he
was going to drink himself to death across the street from me! I prayed hard and asked him if this was
truly the goal that he wanted for his life; he replied no, he really wanted to get back with his wife and two
young kids. We discussed what would it take for this to happen and he decided that what he needed was a
24/7, 100% Biblically-based accountability program! We discussed several good programs that I knew
about across the country. J decided that the Lord wanted him at none other than House of Luke Ministries
in Hemet, CA , a ministry that I didn’t know existed before this trip to AR! We sent him off to California,
and even though he had been drunk for almost a week, he awoke the first morning with no hangover. A few
days later he quit smoking, a habit he has had for over half his life! So my fall ended up with beneficial
Now I am in no way saying that God caused me to fall (that was probably all my stupidity), but what I do
know is that what satan may have meant for evil, God used for good. We won’t be discouraged and we will
continue to do what God calls us to do!