Any idea what this is a picture of? Other than the obvious – shoes.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse last year after the hurricane hit Houston and the surrounding area. Victoria, Texas is where the most wind damage was done, and then after the wind – came days of rain. Homes were ripped apart, missing roofs, some only had foundations left. Homes were exposed to major – major – water damage. People were living in these homes. They had nowhere else to go. They stayed and waited for help. Heat, rain, black mold, despair.
I remember when I applied for the volunteer position online – I thought at the time, really, this is a lot of information to fill out. It was later that I realized that as a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer, that you are wearing an orange t-shirt and representing the hands and feet of Jesus – so, yeah, they want to know your story in the application process.
I waited anxiously to hear back. When I received the call about two weeks later, it was as if I had won some sort of job lottery. I was chosen! They picked ME!! I was so EXCITED! I was ready for the call of duty! Side note: I didn’t fill out the medical information on the application – I just skimmed over it, shall we say… I wasn’t being sneaky or trying to hide anything, I just felt it wasn’t “pertinent” information. I felt good and I knew how to pray for people, ‘nuf said.
I arrived in Victoria one afternoon a few weeks later. Volunteers came in and out daily and usually stayed a week, so different people were on different schedules and volunteers were continually coming and going. Accommodations and AMAZING food were provided by a huge local church. Seriously, like cruise food – there should have been a warning about the 8lb weight gain possibility… Okay, so as I entered the building, I looked to my left to see all of these work shoes lined up against a wall. It was a sight that can’t really be described on an emotional level. Every single pair of shoes that you see are the shoes of a volunteer. A lot of people were still out on jobs when I arrived, so this was only half the shoes!!!
People came and went from 48 different states, different countries, some used their only vacation time, retirement funds, you name it – all in the name of Jesus – to come and help rebuild and pray with the families that were impacted by the hurricane. There were only three paid employees of Samaritan’s Purse during the Victoria deployment.
To describe my experience would be at least an hour blog read, so I’ll spare you some (most) details. I will highlight the most important things though…
The families needed the help of volunteers. Samaritan’s Purse steps right in with disaster relief and ministers to people in the name of Jesus through volunteers. Wow. I have to pull some stats from an email I received after they pulled out. Hang on.
1976 people volunteered in Victoria
- Volunteers came from 48 different states
- Volunteers also came from Canada, Germany, Malawi and Uganda
- The deployment lasted 60 days
- Volunteers completed 892 jobs
- Volunteers worked a total of 44,036 hours
- The value of those hours at $25.15 per hour would be $1,107,505.40
- Chaplains prayed with over 4,450 people
- 207 people committed their life to Christ
Okay, so, there you have it. People have it in them to want to help others. God placed that in our hearts a long time ago. He wants us to bless others. We don’t bless others to be blessed, we bless others because we have been blessed.
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. – 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT
Of course, as you would imagine…. God put me on one job site that had a pig, cats, dogs, chickens and there was even an old – OLD – abandoned church nearby. He gave me eyes to see the beauty through the destruction. And… I got to feed Nina, the pig, some Fritos… she loves Fritos….