I haven’t had the time — or more accurately, I haven’t had the energy — to post anything since coming to Louisiana. Full days of hot, sweaty, smelly, sometimes emotional, hard labor doesn’t leave much to run on by the end of the day. But you can get a sense of what my days have been like by checking out the Hope Force International Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HopeForce. There are at least 15 pictures of me, plus links to a couple of video clips that I make cameo appearances in.
Every one of the 16 homes I’ve worked in during the past 11 days has at least one heart-wrenching story, ranging from great faith to great despair.
The injection of hope that comes from getting a major boost in the cleanup effort from a team of volunteers for a day or two can be transformational. I’m surprised by the number of people trying to do this huge job on their own or with little help. And there’s a race against the clock: Before long the mold in many homes will get bad enough to require hazmat suits to complete the cleanup effort. And for many people, it will be months or even a year or two before they can move back home.
Imagine not only losing your home, but also your cars, place of business, and even your church to floodwater contamination. That’s not an unusual story. And if you wonder why most people don’t have flood insurance, it’s because they’re not in a flood plain — this hasn’t happened here before.
Working on people’s homes opens the door for our physical workers and our trained chaplains to spend time with the homeowners, helping them process through their circumstances. Love in action is a powerful source of healing, joy, hope, and even peace in the midst of life’s toughest challenges. And this kind of action requires love that comes from a source outside ourselves:
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:16-18