Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just Pray!

We've devoted the past few Wednesdays to the topic of prayer. There are more golden nuggets on the Roof about prayer but today we need to stop and just pray.

My Daddy ended up heading to Joplin, MO over Memorial Day to visit with the recent tornado victims and those ministering to them. The pictures and stories that bring it "home" are spine tingling. It underlines just how much these people need our support-most importantly through prayer. Many of them have lost everything including spouses, children, grandchildren, the list goes on. They have a long road ahead of them. Will you pray for this town and it's people today?

On a personal note and as the article below mentions, this devastation does magnify the importance of building our lives, our home on the Rock so that our own houses can stand!

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. ~Matthew 7:25

A Memorial Day to Remember
by Janet Chismar

When Will Graham looked out over Joplin, Missouri, this morning, he saw mile after mile of devastation. The May 22 twister left a swath one mile wide and seven miles long. “The community is literally ripped apart,” he said, trying to put words to the horrific scene he witnessed. “Nothing is left. The streets are wiped clean.”

Joining his father, Franklin, on a Memorial Day visit to the tornado-ravaged community, Will met with Rapid Response Team chaplains and Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working on a holiday to show the love of Christ to storm victims, and with survivors who shared stories of tragedy and triumph.

“We met one 83-year-old lady who survived the tornado by hiding in a little closet with her pet and a picture of Jesus,” said Will. “She was literally trapped in there until her son chain-sawed through the sheet metal to dig her out. But she was smiling and talking about her love for Jesus today.”

Will and Franklin also met a young man who said he had his values “upside down” before the storm. He survived the tornado by diving from his shower into a crawl space under his house. He realizes God spared his life. “After his world was turned upside down,” said Will, “this man’s values are now right side up.”

Both Grahams stressed the importance of prayer. “We come in the name of Jesus Christ and the greatest thing we can do is pray,” said Franklin. “This community has been hit hard. This tornado will go down in the record books. We are focusing on helping people who have lost absolutely everything."

“Pray for the Rapid Response Team chaplains and the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers who are ministering here,” said Will. “Also pray for the churches in this area. Here in the Midwest—in this beautiful, hard-working community—neighbors are helping neighbors. Christians are being the body. People from around the country have come here to help.”

Some 830 people showed up to volunteer on their day off work. “I want to thank the volunteers for all that they are doing,” Franklin said. “We couldn't do what we do without volunteers.”

Overwhelming Magnitude
Preston Parrish, Executive Vice President of Ministry for BGEA, and Ken Isaacs, Vice President of Programs for Samaritan’s Purse, accompanied the Grahams on their visit today. An eyewitness to many disasters himself, Parrish found the scene in Joplin overwhelming: “This tornado has shaken both the community and the people volunteering in Joplin.

“Even the seasoned chaplains are saying this storm has affected them in a way that others haven’t,” Parrish said. “The magnitude of this tornado—you have to see it to even begin to understand it. There has been tremendous loss of life—everybody pretty much knows somebody who has either died, or been injured, or is still missing. You walk through these neighborhoods and smell death.”

Parrish said the tornado gutted several community landmarks, including the high school and hospital. Walmart and Home Depot are demolished.

“An everyday community in middle America has been forever changed,” he added. “People are in shock. Many people are grieving. I talked to a 10-year-old girl and asked if she was afraid as she looked to the future.”

The girl admitted that she was a little afraid, “but I know God is with us.”

People are looking at a future that not only includes rebuilding physically, said Parrish, “but toward a future of having to live, for the rest of their lives, with having been through an experience that has underscored for them that, in an instant, everything they know can change.”

Why We are Here
That, of course, is why we are here, Parrish added. “To help them experience the fact that God is with them, that He has not forsaken them, that He loves them, that while we cannot control the storms that come to us in life many times, we can choose to face them standing on the solid rock, the firm foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And that is the message that RRT chaplains are communicating. “We are praying with people who are realizing that for the first time now, through the wake-up call of this storm, they need to receive Christ,” said Parrish.

Perhaps no more powerful depiction illustrates the current mood in Joplin than the sign for the local high school. The “J” and “lin” were blown off in the tornado, leaving only “op.”

Somebody took paint and painted “h” before the “op” and “e” after it: “Hope.”

“That is a great picture of the message that can come from this crisis,” Parrish added. “While it’s an awful thing, the thing to learn out of this, is that through faith in Christ, the winds blow, the storms come, the rain falls.

”But if we are founded on the Rock, our lives, our house can stand.”

You can see this article and help through the Billy Graham Association by going here or find more articles and help through Samaritan's Purse by visiting here.

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