Harvey, Irma and you

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As I write this, Hurricane Harvey and the devastation in Texas are heavy on my mind and in the forefront of my prayers. I am from Texas, having attended both junior high and high school in Baytown, one of the places hardest hit by the flooding waters. In fact, when you were watching The Weather Channel and they showed the place for the most rainfall from that storm, they showed Cedar Bayou, an area within Baytown, as the highest with 51.88 inches of rain in just those few days. My phone calls to friends and family were somewhat encouraging because none of my people were under water, but so many were. Devastating!

Also as I write this, Hurricane Irma is barreling down on Florida. My first church as a pastor was in Miami. When you read this, you’ll know what Irma has done to that beautiful paradise and the whole state of Florida. I still have many friends and former members there, and I’m praying for their safety and for God’s strength and human response to face and overcome their losses.

Speaking of human response, what an encouragement it is to see the magnanimous human response to the devastation and losses in these and all disasters. Some skeptics want to ask when these disasters happen, “Where was God in all this? Where is His love? Isn’t the suffering unbearable?”

We believers know exactly the answers to these questions. Where is God? And where is His love? Well, for one thing He is in the “magnanimous human response.” God touches the hearts of His people and moves us to respond with God’s kind of love to give physical, financial, and spiritual help. Isn’t the suffering unbearable? We believers know that it would be unbearable without our Christian response to give the suffering ones both help and hope.

I know many of you have responded in loving and heartfelt ways to the relief efforts in Texas, and I know many of you will do the same for Florida. Thank you. Bless you. Please be as sacrificial as possible. The national civic and governmental agencies do a great job. But I would remind you that most Christian denominations also have disaster response ministries. I’m sure your church has that information for you. One of the blessings of our denominational disaster response ministries is that in most cases, I believe, the administrative fees are covered by other financial offerings, so every penny of your donated dollar goes directly to the relief effort. That’s good.

As I said, you have your church and your denomination, but just in case you do not, or are looking for another way to help in a very personal and direct way, I offer you here the information about the relief ministry of my denomination, the North American Lutheran Church.

You may send donations to NALC Disaster Response, 2299 Palmer Dr., Suite 220, New Brighton, MN 55112, or online at www.thenalc.org. Mark your check for Texas or Florida Hurricane Relief, or follow the clicks online to have your money go directly where you want it to go. You may also communicate directly with Mary Bates, NALC Disaster Coordinator disasterresponse@thenalc.org, 740-509-1132.

Also, I assume that many of you have already donated actual supplies needed for cleanup and deconstruction. Again, thank you. Bless you. But I offer you another opportunity if it meets your need to help. We here at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church have a Mission Trip trailer already with many of the supplies needed for post-hurricane work. However, we are now also collecting additional supplies to pack it out and take it to Texas or Florida, wherever our disaster response leaders deem it most needed.

If you would want also to make a contribution of something tangible to be taken and used “hands-on,” you may contact us here and we can receive your contribution. For contacting us, please email popsecretary@princeofpeacefayette.org or paula@princeofpeacefayette.org. You may also call our church office at 770-461-3403.

Here is the updated list of needs as of Sept. 5: five-gallon Flood Buckets with lid containing as many of these items as possible: two one-quart bottles of bleach or a gallon of bleach, rubber gloves, work gloves, large, heavy duty plastic bags (30-45 gallon size), room deodorizer, scrub brush, sponges, 100 ft. clothes line or two 50 ft., antibacterial soap, scouring pads, reusable wipes, dust masks, two 25 oz. or one 50 oz. liquid laundry soap, disinfectant liquid soap, insect repellent spray — really needed! Note: Bottled water no longer needed.

Also on the needs list: shovels, rakes, garden hoses, tarps, mops, gas cans, tools to remove debris (such as wet flooring). Also Bibles, baby diapers and formula, feminine hygiene products, hand sanitizer gel or wipes, non-perishable food items, pet food,  paper plates, plastic eating utensils, paper towels gift cards (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart).

May God lead and guide you in this important opportunity for Christian love and Christian discipleship.

“Dear Lord, we ask for Your Strength to hold up these dear ones suffering as a result of these hurricanes. Let Your Love, O Christ Jesus, flow through us to them. In Jesus’s Name. Amen”

Find Kollmeyer at www.princeofpeacefayette.org