Moved to Compassion
by Mattie Hadnagy, Senior at Carolina Christian School
My experience in Neon, Kentucky was one that changed my perspective in many ways. As we drove into the town, my heart sank. Houses were caved in, cars were smashed, and businesses demolished. Thinking about all the people in Neon whose lives had been destroyed made me cry…hard. As soon as we parked, the leaders of our team thought that it would be a good idea to walk around the town in order to gain an understanding of why we were doing what we were doing. The most shocking thing that I saw was the mark of the water line drawn on one of the windows. It had to have been at least nine feet high! I cannot even imagine how it would feel to see your home underwater like that! After seeing the destruction this city had endured, I was ready to get to work!
We worked for two days, building Sheds of Hope and cleaning up debris. In a practical sense, building the sheds served as a great opportunity for many of us to learn new skills such as how to use power tools and shingle roofs. The workdays also served as a great opportunity to grow closer to those of us who were serving alongside one another.
On the first workday, we went to the home of a kind woman. Although she was fairly reserved, I was glad that she introduced herself to us at the end of the day. For me, it was important to be able to attach a face to the person we were serving because if we were to build the shed and never meet that person for whom we were building it, sure, we could say that we had a productive day of work, but did we really accomplish anything when it comes to showing Christ’s love to others? I was also thankful that we were able to pray with her, as that is probably one of the most important things we could have done for her when it comes to showing Christ’s love.
On the second workday, we served a lady whose entire front yard was covered with all of her belongings that had been destroyed in the flood. It was heartbreaking to have to throw her entire life into a dumpster or fire, but she kept an incredibly positive attitude, seeing the whole thing as a blessing and a fresh start. I was super touched because, as a “thank you,” she cooked hot dogs for our entire team! I was so moved by her optimism as well as her gratitude in the midst of this terrible situation. What was even more encouraging was seeing her at church the next morning. Obviously, it is important to help people with physical matters in times of need, but, ultimately, there is nothing more important than ministering to the soul.