Their names will not soon be forgotten. Harvey and Irma. Yes, two of the most powerful hurricanes to ever strike American soil.
In the 19 years I have worked disasters around the world, I have never seen such destruction. Harvey would dump record amounts of rain on Houston – causing flooding beyond anything anyone could imagine. And, while we were placing tractor-trailer loads of drinking water, bedding, Bibles and personal care products in Texas, I watched Irma develop – a historic hurricane.
Like most Americans, I wondered if the destruction would ever end.
I have been in many cities where flooding has taken place. I have hugged dads and moms, grandmothers and grandfathers, children and grandchildren as they faced the reality of loss and desperation. The loss of homes, furniture, clothing, mementos, their jobs and all they owned.
I have watched as families shuffled through wreckage to find pictures of their children…or what was left of grandmother’s precious treasures that were passed down as a heritage. I have even stood with families while the first responders searched for their loved ones among piles of debris.
It breaks your heart. The sadness. The panic. The hopelessness.
Natural and man-made disasters take a huge toll on people. They are not just storms. What we see firsthand are lives at the brink.
Through these horrible circumstances, I consider it an honor to serve God and to remind them that through the suffering God has not forgotten them. He has sent us to be His hands and feet.
After a devastating storm, the question always comes up. Why did this happen to me?
I have no answer why a storm hits one community and not another. I cannot explain why one house is destroyed and a house right beside it is undisturbed. I cannot begin to understand why one life ends, while another is allowed an earthly future.
I can only share a bottle of drinking water, a warm blanket, food, soap for a warm shower, and other supplies to help the suffering begin the long road to recovery. And, it is a long, very long, road.
As I write this letter, Gleaning has shipped twenty tractor-trailer loads of supplies to Houston. Another ten have been sent to Jacksonville.
We are just beginning.
Black mold has a devastating effect on structures and on humans. As floodwaters recede, the race to destroy the mold begins. If it is not removed properly – wallboard torn out, everything bleached, and affected furniture and clothing destroyed – the people will suffer with lung infections for years. For example, if a family has a child two to three years old, they may never recover from the effects of black mold.
We have purchased several tractor-trailer loads of bleach. We are sending wallboard, construction tape, mud and screws so people can start reclaiming their homes. The job isn’t complete until the people recover and the suffering is relieved.
As one person at a collection site told me, “Gleaning For The World is the only nonprofit I donate to because I know you will use it to really help someone else.” I am so proud of our local community for all the products that were given. I am so thankful for our donors all over the country who give generously in order to help the hurting.
Gleaning For The World will never forget our responsibility to represent you. Our partnership and trust is priceless.
There are two months remaining in this hurricane season, and there are five more storms brewing between Africa and the United States. In all likelihood, one of those will strike us again. Regardless when and where, Gleaning will be there.
I have received calls from all over the United States from companies, community groups, and churches who have collected supplies. Shipping costs during a disaster are quite expensive, but when the supplies are available we ship them and ultimately deliver hope to the hopeless. That’s what we do.
The trust that you place in us means more than words can tell. It’s a sacred trust that I am personally responsible for and I will always be faithful to you.
If you would like to help us continue our efforts in Texas and Florida, I encourage you to send a gift today. You may want to give financially now so we are prepared when the next disaster strikes. Of course, we are also continuing our work throughout the U.S. for the homeless, widows, children and others who suffer every day.
As long as people suffer, we will not sleep. As long as we represent you, we will put in the hours that are necessary to help the suffering. As long as God calls us to help Him reach His people, we will be faithful.