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by Robert Brooks, Immanuel attendee

Image11242013122328On November 23, a group of 16 men from Immanuel and Chain of Lakes Bible Church left early in the morning for a chilly three and a half hour drive to Washington, IL less than a week after that city was hit by an F4 tornado. Because the situation was ever-changing they we were not sure as to what we would be doing or what to expect. We met Chad Allaman whose family home had been wiped off the floor. The devastation was surreal. There were vehicles and machinery everywhere. People of all ages were clearing debris to the curb. There were groups of people walking from house to house assisting people. Vans and people were up and down the roads passing out gloves, hand warmers because of the cold, coffee and hot chocolate. At one point Famous Dave’s lunch trucks were passing out lunches. The generosity of people was overwhelming.

Of course, the Church was quite evident. Local churchs’ vans were bringing in people and supplies. Everywhere you looked people were praying with each other. God’s love was evident. While our group was working the home next door had also been destroyed. The couple from Burma was standing in the front yard in tears and shock. They had no help whatsoever. Half our group went over to work with them and pray for them. Our group became the hands and feet of Christ to them. We were also able to connect with a group from Camp Timberlee. What a great group!

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We had been working for several hours when I stood up on the deck of the house and looked toward the direction the tornado came from. There was a three mile long by half mile wide path of destruction. Nothing standing but a few stripped trees. At some point the homeowners came to us and told us that the husband had a valuable ring that was lost in the wreckage. They said that there was a pile of rubbish in the yard that looks like it could be part of the closet that the ring was in and asked if we could look for it. Three of our men got on their hands and knees on the frozen ground and down with their hands and claw hammers. Why did they do this? Love. What was the pay-off? The ring. Like the woman who searched for her coins their persistence paid off.

imagejpeg_2The following day we worked at a school clearing about two dozen fallen trees and cleaning the roof and alcoves around the school. From there we went to the previous days homes to help do some final clearing. We walked from home to home assisting people clean and move belongings to the curb.

One thing that struck me was people’s attitudes. Those that lost everything seemed to be handling the situation better than those that had part of a home left. The people that still had something were desperately clinging to the remainders of their life while those who lost everything were going to start afresh. Kind of like salvation. We need to be presented to Christ in our nothingness. Empty and broken, not clinging to our past. We need to see ourselves as Christ sees us as a beautiful mess, a lump of clay that He can mold into a new creation. That is my desire for my life and what leads me to follow Christ into the field of souls.

One thought on “World Outreach: Responding to the Washington Tornado Disaster

  1. Bob, great article! Thanks for sharing! I love the passion God has given you to see a need and to respond in love and in service. Your faith in action is compelling!

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