In early June of 2008 many major rivers began to flood in Iowa. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City/Coralville
were the areas that were hardest hit. Cedar Rapids had more businesses and the state college suffered a
lot of damage.
We had contacted Pastor Jeff of CC Iowa City and began discussing the possibility of coming to Iowa City
and helping with the recovery efforts. His wife Jennifer and their three boys had moved to Iowa City
from CA to start a CC a couple of years prior. They had a small fellowship that was meeting in the local
office of Molly Maid. They wanted to help their community but were not sure where to begin. They also
had other responsibilities to take care of. As with most disasters, local churches and pastors often times
feel pressured into taking on the added responsibilities of disaster relief coordinators. Most of the time
this becomes overwhelming as they have no experience in this type of ministry and they already have their
plates full with normal duties as husbands, fathers, pastors, counselors and sometimes even hold down full
or part-time jobs. Jeff was all of the above.
We communicated for a few days. Finally it was determined that we would fly out and assess the needs a
couple of days before the waters receded enough to begin the clean up. Mary Jo and I arrived on
Wednesday and were met by Jennifer at the airport. She immediately took us on a tour of the area. We
had also been in contact with several other ministries who wanted to help. We contacted Brady from CC
Dallas and some others who agreed to bring in teams to help out with the efforts in Iowa City.
Friday a group of us from CC Iowa City went door to door in one of the neighborhoods that were hit and
met with several home owners who requested our services. We immediately got to work. We had also
contacted the city and they asked if we could utilize volunteers that came in and asked us to work on
homes that they had work orders for as well. We agreed and by Monday we were in full swing, working on
several different homes in a couple of different locations with all of the out of state and local volunteers
who were being assigned to us as well. Brady also had some contacst from Virginia and CA come in and
help. Todd from CC Sarasota, a member of our relief team happened to be from the Iowa City area and
still had some relatives in the area. He contacted us and came out for a week to help with two of his sons.
We also had a group from CC Mississippi Valley, IL join us one day. There area was also under water and
they wanted to come in and see what all we were doing so that they could be prepared to help out in their
community when the time came.
June from our church came out to cook for us for a few days. All Nations Baptist church opened up their
church to the teams and allowed us to use their showers and full kitchen. They had Red Cross bring in
dinner while June and Mary Jo took care of breakfast and lunch while June was there and Jen and Mary
Jo did it after June left. We also had many local people who contributed to the food detail. I even donned
chef’s jacket on occasion and helped out including the BBQ on July 4th!
Things were quite a mess and the smells increased as the time went on. We were able to minister to many
different people. Some even came to church on Sunday before we left town. One girl's father attended
CC in CA and she attended when visiting him. She said she had said if there was a CC in Iowa she would
attend, not knowing one existed and now she would attend when she could! We had many local volunteers
who weren't Christians join us and we had many chances to share the Gospel with them.
All in all we worked on 19 residences in about a week and a half. We oversaw 67 different volunteers.
After we left, we set up a few other teams from other churches to come in and help out. The Lord worked
many things out for his glory!
Jeff his wife Jennifer, and their boys, Tyler, Zack and Josh, were an inspiration to me. If it wasn’t for
their faithfulness a few years ago as God began calling them to step out of their comfort zones and scout
out, then move to, then plant a church in Iowa City and then remain there, nothing that we did would have
been possible. They had unknowingly paved the way for the work that God wanted to do in my life and
countless others in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 2008. I know in turn that they were greatly
refreshed by all that God did during our visit. Those of us who attend regular church services where we
are surrounded by many faithful servants and Christian brothers and sisters often forget about those who
are in areas such as Iowa City planting a church. CC Iowa City is a young and small church and many of the
people who fellowship there are newer Christians who are in need of discipleship. Only a couple are able to
help serve and disciple. This not only imposes great burdens on Jeff and Jennifer, though they are more
than happy to be faithful to what God has called them to do, but also leaves them lacking for the
fellowship, encouragement and discipleship that they were used to before they followed God to Iowa. I
won’t try to tell you Jeff's family's story, but our group, though only there for a short time, was able to
be that for them and I know they greatly appreciated all of us for that.
But wait, there was even more! Because CC Iowa City is a newer church, few of those in the fellowship
have seen a serving church in action before. We were all able to be examples to them as to what a Christian
life of love and service to our Lord and Savior actually looks like! I’m not saying this to take any credit for
it. I just want to let you know again of the different ways that God will use you when you just trust Him
and step out in faith and do what He calls you to do. God wants to know where our mindset is. Do we have
heavenly goals or self-centered, earthly goals? Wood, hay and stubble, or gold, silver and precious jewels?
We all have the same choices and the same opportunities. I don’t mean whether or not to go on a mission
trip or respond to a relief effort. I mean the choice to obey the call that God has on each of our individual
lives, no matter what that is; responding to a relief effort, going to Bible College, teaching Sunday School,
cleaning toilets, etc. God has called each of us to something and we all need to make God the number one
priority in our lives, to step out in faith and to allow Him to work in and through our lives as we humbly
Jeff emailed me something at the end of the year and I've copied it below for you to read:
Hope everything is going well for you guys. We have had our last couple of Sundays over at our new
building. What a blessing that has been, seems huge compared to what we have been used to!
I was thinking about our year and almost immediately I got struck by the fact that the flood was the
pivotal event, an event that God used so mightily in our lives, our fellowship. Everything that has happened
since the flood, somehow seems related to that time. You and Mary Jo were such a big part of that!