Helpers.

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This photo has gone viral since the Boston Marathon bombings, and for good reason. It’s a good advice.

ThrillCam and I have lived near quite a few disasters over the recent years and it’s amazing to watch the good that comes from very sad and seemingly helpless situations.

We’ve watched Helpers come in very different forms over the years…

We had been living in Clear Lake (Houston) Texas, right down the road from NASA, for not very long when the space shuttle Columbia exploded.

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I don’t believe we were remotely prepared for what we witnessed as this large city, and yet, very small community of engineers, contractors, scientists, and friends rallied around NASA and the shuttle victims’ families. When I say it was amazing, it was amazing.

Everyone in the community was connected, in some form or fashion, to NASA, and more specifically, to an astronaut. For such a large population, the degrees of separation were minimal.

I remember mourning friends who personally worked alongside the astronauts telling me stories of how they walked side-by-side through brush and thicket searching for pieces of the shuttle for days following the explosion; they were determined to help find even the smallest sliver of metal that could help the investigators piece together the hows and whys of that tragedy. It was their way of helping.

Our oldest son was in the same class/grade with one of the astronaut’s daughters. So, we were eye-witnesses to the attention and support given to her and her family. Helpers with tangible offerings of many prayers, food, carpooling, house-cleaning…anything that could help ease the burden of sorrow the families were feeling.

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” I Peter 4:9

During our time in the Houston area, we evacuated three times for the threat of, or the actual frontal attack of hurricanes.

While Hurricane Katrina didn’t hit our area directly, we watched as hundreds of evacuees fled Louisiana to Houston and its surrounding areas. Churches, families and businesses opened their doors to these refugees, feeding and clothing them. Our church sent teams of workers to some of the hardest hit areas in Mississippi to help in the recovery process. It was beautiful and inspiring to watch.

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Photo credit to Gateway Community Church.

“Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

‘Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.” Matthew 10:8

We moved a few years later, further south, to plant a church in the town of League City. League City is in Galveston county, about 30 minutes (minus traffic) south of downtown Houston and about 30 minutes north of the Galveston Bay.  Hurricane Ike hit Galveston with force, causing a devastating storm surge.

Our church took a small, but dedicated, loving group of helpers down to help with the cleanup efforts following Ike. (You can read my post about it here.)

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Just a few days ago, the Boston Marathon was bombed. Unbelievable and, again, devastating.

But, I am amazed by the first responders (that include just regular folk who stayed to help), who swooped in, immediately, to help the victims. This morning’s national news did a piece on the EMS workers who were stationed in and around the race. Because of their presence, they were able to move 90 people to area hospitals in less than an hour.

Helpers.

And, now, today, I sit here reeling at the close proximity of our new home to West, Texas, the small town devastated by the fertilizer plant explosion. I grew up going there on a very regular basis to buy kolaches and go country and western dancing! My heart is heavy and sad for the precious people of West, as they continue to search for loved ones and tend to injured ones…

But, I am also, once again, reminded of the good in people. Immediately, churches and businesses opened their doors for the refugees and hurting people of West. Donations of blood and gift cards and clothing and baby diapers, etc. are flowing in.

I’m, once again, watching the loving hands of Jesus being lifted through service and care.

This is just unfolding and I am looking forward to hearing the hero stories…

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.” Ps. 121-1-2

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