By Jenny Morton, who, along with her husband, Kurt, is a disaster relief missionary. They volunteer as team leaders with Samaritan’s Purse. The two met while serving during Hurricane Katrina relief and have dedicated their lives to helping those affected by domestic disasters. They write about their mission work and raise funds to travel with Samaritan’s Purse on their blog, http://mortonmissions.com.
My husband and I arrived in Kingsport, Tenn., on Sunday. We knew that the workload and deployment were smaller than others, but the disaster was just as important and devastating to the homeowners. God had a plan, and we were there to fulfill that plan. During the week, we completed 18 work orders and were able to assist and minister to the owners of all of those homes. Eighteen households would have struggled to perform the work without us. God knew that and provided our able-bodied teams to work alongside them, allowing them to lean on our strong shoulders for a few hours to lighten their load.
God revealed Himself through gratitude and thanks over a job well done, through planted seeds and the proof that He hadn’t forgotten them, through tears on sweat stained faces that fell on the leather covers of newly presented Bibles, and through prayers lifted up in circles of volunteers and they clasped their hands together and blessed the hurting and provided comfort for the burdened. But, above all of these images, the one that sticks most in my head is how He made a Bible story come to life for three little boys.
It’s the story of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10:25-37, we read about a man who was attacked and beaten before being left for dead. Many walked by him without helping, but it was the Samaritan who approached him and provided care for him.
One of our homeowners was at a discount store a few days after the storm and saw a children’s story about the Good Samaritan. She bought it and brought it home to her two boys.
The next day, she came out of her home to find a Samaritan’s Purse door hanger on her front door. They hanger asked if she needed assistance with the damage caused to her roof by straight-line winds. A tree had fallen on it and caused her house to shake terribly. She said it felt like an earthquake. When she was able to go out and assess the damage, she saw the tree that once stood in her backyard was lying across her roofline, branches and limbs scattered all around her porch and yard. She said it was a nightmare, and she wasn’t sure what she was going to do.
The door hanger changed that. She called the Samaritan’s Purse base, and we were able to send a team out to her home the next afternoon. When she told her little boys that Good Samaritans, just like in the story they read, were coming to help them with their home, they jumped up with excitement, and one yelled, “The story is real! The Good Samaritan is still here!”
It was an amazing real life illustration for that family that God is going to provide them with help and comfort in disasters great and small. The two boys buzzed around us excitedly, watching us from below as we worked on their roof, laughing and being silly with us as we took a break, and holding their little hands in ours as we praised and thanked the Father who provided it all.
The very next day, we had a similar opportunity. We were able to work on a home where a woman lived with her three adopted sons. The youngest, and newest to the family, told her about a month ago that he didn’t believe there was a God. He is around 5, and it broke her heart. She sat with him and tried to explain that He is real. She bought a children’s Bible so that she could go through stories with him regularly.
We completed the work on her home and circled up to begin the Bible presentation. As I presented her with the Bible and prayed over her, I said a special prayer for her son to have an opportunity to feel God’s love and grace. When we broke from the circle, I opened the Bible and showed her all of our signatures in the front pages. Some held small words of encouragement, a favorite Bible verse, or a special prayer. The signatures were names of people who had traveled from all over the country to her home because Jesus loved us first.
I pulled her aside and told her to find that story of the Good Samaritan and to share that with her son. Then she could pull out that Bible and show him that all of those signatures represented people who helped his family and his home just because God loves them and calls us to help.
There are three little boys in Kingsport who were able to see a real and tangible example of Christ’s love just because we pulled in our units and decided to help a community. More than 30 volunteers were living examples of the Good Samaritan and provided 828 hours of service in Jesus’ name. We showed up, not because of the media coverage or the mass quantity of homes affected, but because God called us and because He loved us first.