I teamed up with my friend Chris Chiles’ ministry, Hope Reigns to help with the flood recovery efforts in West Virginia. I’ve served with them before and they have a terrific disaster relief ministry established. Whenever I go on any sort of mission trip I pack a small journal. Each evening before bed I take a few minutes to write about the day. Below is what I wrote during my time in West Virginia and one follow up a couple days after returning.
Hope Reigns – West Virginia Flood Recovery
I arrived in Summersville, WVA at about 2am this morning. Last Thursday massive flooding affected huge areas of the state. Today we worked in a town called Rainelle. Our homeowner, Doreen, is a super sweet lady. She’s 78 years old and lives on her own. Her husband passed a couple years ago. He was a pastor and then a travel pastor. She was amazing to talk with. Told us all kinds of stories of her life. At the beginning of their relationship he was a drunk. Two friends specifically prayed for him. Then, on a visit, his mom asked him to come to church. Reluctantly he went. During the sermon he broke down. He accepted Jesus and made a complete 180 in his life. Quit drinking and spent the rest of his life serving. Another team was able to lead their homeowner to Christ. The devastation in this area is incredible.
Another fantastic day serving. I was a team leader of an 11 person crew today. We worked on a family’s home in a town called Nallen. This is a small area that has gotten no help so far. Most of the relief groups are in the more populated towns. Our homeowner has lived in the house for 40 years. We took out furniture, appliances, flooring, drywall etc. He, his wife and son in law worked with us most of the day. Very nice folks. He worked construction his whole life. He and a friend that stopped by told me about building concrete silos in the 70’s. Incredibly hard labor intensive work.
My entire crew today was 1st timers with Hope Reigns. I was the only one that had done a Hope Reigns trip previously. Made some new friends. 3 guys in particular that live about two hours from me. We took a ride over to Summersville Lake Dam. They had the gates open. About a 20’ pipe w/ water flowing out. The lake had risen about 20′ due to the flooding. One of the local residents said that with the pipe wide open as it was it only lowered the water level 5′ in a day. Really incredible sight.
Started off today with church service at Summersville Baptist. They are our host church. Pastor Dana Gatewood’s sermon was about Colossians 2:6-7. He highlighted 3 steps to growth.
1: Living in Christ
2: Strengthened in faith
3: Overflow with thankfulness
One of the key points was to join God where He is, not where you are. Join God. Don’t ask God to join you. Pastor referenced John 15:5 for this reference. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We have to stay focused on Christ. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. Keep your eyes on your destination…Christ.
We headed out to our jobsite after church. We were able to finish tearing out the tile and remaining walls. This crew was awesome and we got a lot done. Headed back to the church for dinner then I left for home.
Looking back. Over the past couple days as I’ve gotten back into my daily routine I’ve been in constant thought of the people I met in West Virginia. I’ve continued to pray for them and their community. I’ve had many people ask me about the experience and I just can’t do it justice with words. The power of water is absolutely incredible. The amount of water that went through these towns is just inconceivable. The house I worked on Saturday and Sunday sits about 15’ above the river. The flood line was about 5’ inside the house. That river rose approx. 20’. The amount of water required for that to happen I just can’t even fathom.
As I said, this is just my little journal notes from my time in West Virginia. It’s not literary perfection, but I hope it helps you have a glimpse into what I experienced during my trip. Please keep the the whole state of West Virginia lifted in your prayers. There are many volunteers in the area now helping. However, this recovery is going to take months if not years. The news reports will go away, but the loss and hurt won’t. These communities will have many needs arise in the coming months. I pray there will still be plenty of support at those times as well.
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This post was written by James