Every season of this year seems to bring a new set of challenges. The latest is a series of floods. In the early summer, we worked with the local EFC in Minot, ND to help them respond to floods that affected 4,000 families.
Then Hurricanes Irene and Lee brought torrential rains to the northeast. We responded by calling and visiting with many churches in the region to help them with ideas to develop local responses to localized impacts.
At the same time, locally heavy rains in the city of Rio du Sol, Brazil, resulted in 11,000 homes being flooded, displacing 50,000 people. Pastor Johnny, a key international partner in our response efforts in Haiti, lives in the city and had his church inundated with 15 feet of water. A team from that local church was serving with us in Haiti when the flooding hit. He has a church planting vision to see 24 new churches planted in the region, and so I traveled there this past week to help him in developing a strategic ministry response to the flooding.
The church has had great opportunities for outreach. One day we were there they had 75 visitors in just a few hours to a 'free store', reminiscent of the early days following Katrina. All left with goods, prayer and the promise of a follow-up visit from the church. As basic needs are met in the next few days, we discussed the transition from relief to recovery, and phasing out the 'give-away'.
In the days following the flood, they cleaned out over thirty homes, and initiated relational connections with hundreds of neighbors. They had a church meeting during our visit and the members committed to visiting all those they helped, with a vision to see at least six new small groups started out of the harvest. Pastor Johnny reports on open hearts:
Debora and Arlei's home was totally under water and was one of the last in the city to see the water recede. On arrival, we soon discovered that it was the worst of all of the homes we'd seen and helped. Immediately the man said that he didn't believe in God nor the devil, he didn't believe in anything -- that his friend was money...but that neither his friends nor family had come to help... Then someone said: "But we're here and we came to help." We spent 2 VERY arduous days for there was lots of mud. Every last roof tile had to be removed...we weren't able to completely finish the job for there were other commitments but at the end of this second day the man thanked us saying that we did more than they could have in 30 days. Then he said: "Pastor...we want to go to church to thank God"...And we intend to return to finish the job...
This church of 60 people has had 30 visitors in the last two weeks.
For more information or to give, go to www.touchglobal.org/brazil.