The ground was rumbling, the air sticky and heavy. The inconsistent buzz of insects flitted in and out of ear shot and I could feel something poking my foot through the screen of the tent. Blearily, I looked down and saw my friend, was trying to wake us up, “Guys, it’s 4:30 a.m., we have to get up, get ready, and start cooking.”
Let’s back up a moment to 10 a.m., September 1st. My husband Charles calls me and asks how I feel about an impromptu trip to TX with a few friends to help with the Hurricane relief. Honestly, I burst into tears: I’m a planner. I like to know what my days are going to look like in advance. My plan for the Labor Day weekend included: celebrating my birthday Saturday morning with my husband and doing a little bit of yard work, and then we’d attend church Sunday morning and have a relaxing rest of the weekend.
Distraction was my word of the day at work. The rest of the shift I kept looking at my phone in hopes of more information. When were we leaving? Where exactly were we going? How long of a trip? Gas money—Do they even have gas in Texas? Where would we sleep? All I could think about was whether or not I should go… My first instinct was honestly: nope. I don’t do things like randomly drive 10 hrs. away from home, sleep in a tent, and do who knows what else. But I still had to wonder if God had a reason for me to go. The only answer I had was: “Trust in God and have faith that we will arrive in Texas in one piece.”
Nehemiah had no qualms: he, like my husband, knew that the urge he felt was from the lord. In Nehemiah’s case: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In my husband’s case: serve the people of Victoria, TX. Charles and I had very little information to work with other than what our friend Josh knew. Before the end of the day we were told that money for gas and incidentals had been donated for trip. Nehemiah experienced the same blessing and had the grace of God with him when he asked the king he served for help on his mission:
“If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild [the wall].”
I decided that I would trust my husband’s judgment, go with him, our friends, to be cooks for the volunteers of the Convoy of Hope. It was out of my comfort zone but I knew I would regret not being a part of the trip. We arrived Sunday morning around 2 a.m. and set up tents in the parking lot of Faith Family Church in Victoria. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. and got to work. Bacon was cooking, eggs scrambling and coffee brewing. The Convoy of Hope volunteers were all fed by 8 a.m.. By 9 a.m. we were sitting in a church service learning about the beginning of Elisha’s journey with the Prophet Elijah.
After Nehemiah and his builders completed the wall and gates of Jerusalem they gathered together in the seventh month of the year and had the teacher of the law, Ezra, read the book to everyone who had gathered:
“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”
The Israelites praised God for bringing them back to Jerusalem and for helping them to restore what was once destroyed. While Victoria, TX wasn’t destroyed there were still people without power and water. However, the congregation still came to church to worship the Lord and praise him for everything they had.
There are many ways we can help in great disasters like the many in recent weeks. We can volunteer our time and energy to physically restore the areas impacted, or we can volunteer our monetary donations to organizations involved in relief efforts. There are many ways we can help the people affected by these disaster.
Just as Nehemiah was called to restore a devastated city, you are also being called to restore.
Where will you choose to be the light?
Featured image by Adrian Sava