Hurricane Irma Response: Grace in the Storm
by Eric B. Watkins, Pastor, Covenant OPC, Saint Augustine, Florida (September 27, 2017)
Pastor Eric Watkins and his congregation at Covenant OPC (St. Augustine, FL) have been busy helping one another and their neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. He recently shared with us a letter he wrote to his church about this.
Samuel Rutherford, famous Scottish preacher from the 17th century, wrote a lovely little book called Grace in Winter, in which he elegantly described God’s mercy and grace that so often come to us in the midst of difficult times. A similar volume might be written entitled, Grace in the Storm. God’s grace was truly evident to us through the recent hurricane. I would like to share a couple of tokens of that grace.
1. Doris: “What a great witness our church members are for the Lord. You can never know how great it was to get a phone call from Mel to see if I was prepared for Irma .... Then afterward when Jesse came with a helper for the downed limbs. When you reach my stage in life where I am useless, it is comforting to know there is help .... How wonderful is our church family? Praise God from whom all blessing flow!!!!!!!"
2. Cheryl (Doris’ daughter): "I am once again humbled by the way your church family loves my mom, and the rest of our household in the overflow! I told Jesse and Derek that I so appreciated them being Jesus with skin on as they came to cut and haul branches and right our fence posts. The way your "body" cares for the members is such a wonderful encouragement to the recipients as well as an amazing testimony to the watching world."
3. There were numerous phone messages or texts sent to me along the same lines from people whom we were able to help, not all of which are in our church. Here is one from our church’s Facebook page:
"My wife Meredith and I could not be more thankful for ... the members from Turning Point at Calvary and Covenant OPC (who came) to help us clear out the major yard mess that Hurricane Irma brought with it. This group did in 30 minutes what took me 3 days & they did in 3 hours what would have probably taken me 3 months. We are just VERY Thankful!!"
4. Lastly a man in our church has been looking for a job for many months. While helping my kids and me serve others after the storm, he met a neighbor of mine who shared his resume with a friend at a company in town. One thing led to another, and today, by God’s grace, our friend was hired and signed on with a great job. Praise God! What a wonderful providence—Grace in the storm!