It is difficult to summarize, in a few words, what we gained in wisdom and experience over the course of our journey. However, this was a week of service that I will always treasure in my heart. We did meet some incredibly valiant and remarkable people. Even though there was a sea of relief workers and volunteers laboring in the field, one thing really struck me, above all else. These survivors of Hurricane Sandy really responded to compassion. In the name of Jesus, we fed the hungry, aided in clean up and supplied manifold needs; but what was best received was a warm smile, a kind word and friendly conversation. People need to know true love. That truth is universal. Spending time going from home to home talking, sharing and listening (over a cup of coffee ) meant more to people than all the material aid we could offer. We made some really good friends and made some memories. I assure you that I was more blessed by going these 1000 miles, to a disaster area, than those who may have even slightly been blessed by anything that I could have done for them.
Another wonderful thing I witnessed that spoke with a thundering voice to me was witnessed at the Church that hosted us, Christian Pentecostal Church of Staten Island. This group of Saints lead by their Pastor, preached the Gospel Message to me, and I never entered their Auditorium. Each day a kitchen was staffed with Senior ladies who volunteered from dawn until long after dark. Their mission was to feed the volunteers who flooded the campus, offering their time and resources to the collection and distribution of clothes, food, and other supplies. The Pastor spent 12 + hours in the weather coordinating the logistical distribution concerns of the city. The Church never stopped serving those in need. They even suspended their regular services to make their facility available for use in the service of their neighbors. There hall ways were lined with donations, their class rooms occupied with guest missionaries, like us, who need a warm place to bathe and sleep. Their parking lot was crowded with masses of people and supplies. These people were truly radical in their concept of what true discipleship is. If ever I could take a little of NY back to the South with me, it would be the Heart of Christ I witnessed in this Church on Mission for Jesus Christ.
Christ Commanded us to Love GOD and to Love our Neighbor. To me this was a mission trip of love. We met many material needs while we were there; but, the greatest of these is LOVE. We loved like Christ taught us. It wasn’t forced. It was genuine love, which has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We also received Love. Love that came from those who we went to love. I’m glad to be back in Leary, but I will miss my Staten Island Family. I hope each of those who heard the message of the Gospel preached as I did, will keep ever near the cross. And I pray that their living conditions will soon return to some semblance of normalcy. But most of all I pray that the spirit that prevailed in the hearts of volunteer and victim alike will abound in their hearts for the remainder of our days on this earth. I sincerely love each of you that have been following this blog and I pray you will know the joy & peace of Christ that comes only from infusing your life (the life of Christ) into the life of others.
Ps. to my Staten Island family, ” I will never forget you. I love ya’ll. May GOD Bless You All.”