“God used us to share hope”- CIU students assist in hurricane disaster relief
By Nathanael Knott
On the weekend of Sept. 29, I had the opportunity to drive to New Bern, North Carolina with a team of 10 other Columbia International University students to work on disaster relief in the wake of the destruction left by Hurricane Florence. Temple Baptist Church welcomed us and gave us a place to stay. They have hosted an average of 250 people per night since the hurricane. In addition, the North Carolina Baptist disaster relief team has cooked 200,000 meals.
On Saturday morning I went out with a chainsaw crew to a neighborhood on the water. As we drove to our first job site, widespread devastation was evident. Houses closer to the waterways were gutted, with everything on the first floor being piled on the curb. We arrived at the house of an elderly lady. A tree had fallen in her backyard, barely missing her back porch. She had returned from evacuation the day before, so the emotions and stress caused by the damage were still fresh on her voice. This was among the most impactful moments on the trip: seeing her need and helplessness and stepping in, responding with actions and results that gave her hope.
At the end of the day, we prayed with a couple who attend Temple Baptist Church. The contents of their garage and first floor of their house were entirely on the street. Drywall and flooring had been stripped, needing replacement. One of the members of our team observed that, despite their circumstances, they still had smiles on their faces. I was awestruck by the peace and faith they displayed, clearly resting in the promises of God.
I had no frame of reference by which to relate to these people, never having experienced anything close to the devastation I observed. My emotions were dulled. I was tired, somewhat overwhelmed, and unsure of how to respond. As I reflected on the devastation later, I realized that God knows the pain of each family affected by the hurricane. His heart breaks for each hopeless, hurting, and devastated family. God used us to share hope with a few who needed it and has used His church to share hope with many, many more. I praise God that I was able to be a part of ministering to the hurting and broken.
Nathanael Knott is a writer for The Rambler, the CIU student newspaper.
More information on CIU's minor in Disaster Relief and Management is here.