Hearing Their Stories

Donna lost everything in the Appomattox tornado in 2016.

One morning, she looked out and saw Mennonites loading debris. The Baptists in yellow shirts were on a roof making repairs. Churches of Christ were cleaning up in their bright green shirts. Methodists, Amish, and more were working, too. After losing everything, Donna said,

This is the most beautiful picture of the church I have ever seen.

Imagine being at work one afternoon and getting an automated alert from your child’s school, letting you know the kids were being held on campus due to potential severe weather.

As you drive down the highway, you hear reports that a tornado has touched down somewhere near your home. Eventually, you pull over and begin walking, and as you get closer and closer to your house, you no longer recognize the landmarks.

When you cross the railroad tracks and approach where your home should be, it’s not.

Life After the Disaster

In one disaster community, a homeowner lost her father in the storm. In the stress after the storm, her marriage fell apart. Her home was gone, and her home business was destroyed.

She was extremely shy. When teams started working on her home, she stood and watched with her arms crossed. It was hard to accept their love and hugs as they arrived.

As they loved her with hammers and nails and drywall, she began to look teams in the eyes. When she received the keys to her new home, she stood and spoke to the volunteers. She started coming back to life.

In John 11, Jesus encounters Mary and Martha after Lazarus has been in the grave for four days. In their grief and loss, they question Jesus and his timing.

If only you had been here…

When Jesus sat with Lazarus’ family, they believed their brother had died. A disaster had struck their home.

Jesus knew what would come. He knew he could do something for their felt need.

Before he did anything tangible for these women, he did something many of us “do-ers” will overlook. He listened.

Listening to the Stories

Tom Cline was leading a mass care kitchen when a woman walked up. She began telling her story.

Her house had been flooded and was uninhabitable, but her elderly father refused to move out. She had lost everything on the main floor of the house.

Tom did not have the means to do anything in that moment, but his team had just prepared a hot meal. And he was prepared to listen to her story.

Jesus wept.

Was Jesus crying with grief? Or was his heart breaking for what broke the hearts of Mary and Martha?

He knew what he would ultimately do. Jesus had a plan for their restoration. He wasn’t going to leave them alone.


Launching Teams to Help

Caring for people is at the core of the Crisis Care Team. Through an expanding partnership with the Texas Crisis Resiliency Team, Virginia Baptist Disaster Response’s team will relaunch this summer.

“The number one question I have received while serving in this role is, ‘When will we have chaplaincy training?’” says Aaron Lee, BGAV disaster response coordinator. “We are excited to have a plan and to be relaunching with this incredible partnership.”

Four leaders attending a “training for trainers” workshop in May, and a subsequent training will be held later this year in Virginia.

“We have become well-known for the high quality work we provide in the field,” Lee says, “and we want to make sure we offer the same for a survivor’s spiritual and emotional state as well.”

Joe Prince, a cleanup team leader and assessor, encountered a couple trying to get back to where their home had been. He offered a ride, and off they went in his truck. Along the way, Joe listened as the couple shared their story.

As floodwaters rose, the wife and daughter had both been picked up and carried a few hundred yards away. For a few hours after the storm, they did not know where their daughter was. Imagine the fear she felt in those moments.

The daughter was now in the hospital recovering. And as they drove back to their homesite, Joe listened.

These are the stories which need to be shared and told after a disaster. Disaster survivors need to be heard, and we want to listen. The Crisis Care Team will provide high quality emotional and spiritual care, looking out for the person.

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