Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eight Days of Hope in Pamlico County

Last evening we went to a meeting with Eight Days of Hope. This is a group of Christians who come together to work for disaster relief, across the country. This is the ninth time that Eight Days of Hope has done a project. The first project was after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This time they're in Pamlico County to help home-owners who lost everything in Hurricane Irene last August.
I didn't know anything about Eight Days of Hope until yesterday. If you want to know more about them, here's their website. They had 1600 people sign up for this project, coming from 43 U.S. states and other countries too. Then, they had 250 additional people just show up. The volunteers pay their own travel expenses, and pay a fee to come that covers their housing and food. It's a huge sacrifice of time, money, work and life, all to show the love of Jesus. There were Catholics, Freewill Baptists, Mennonites, and every other stripe of Christian, all worshiping together.
They're staying at a YMCA kids' camp -- Camp Seafarer. Camps Seafarer and Seagull are gorgeous places along the Neuse River with huge facilities. They introduce their campers to water sports, among other things. Philip and Julia inspected the campers' boats:
The camp has a great swimming area. This is about half of it.
They have a massive tower with four ziplines that descend into the water, and a slide and various swings.
What a great place to stay for a week while you do service for those whose lives have been ripped apart!
My children, making silly faces.
Adam was asked to speak at their worship service last night. The bizarre story of how he was asked to do this, is quite a tale. The young man, Topper, who's in charge of the worship services, met us long ago in Rhode Island, at a little RPCNA church where Adam preached once or twice. We'd both forgotten each other. Then Topper was given Adam's name as a possible local speaker, and they discovered that they're both Reformed Presbyterians and knew each other! Such a God thing.
Adam spoke on the difference between mercy and grace, something so appropriate to this situation. Some who prayed for God to deflect Hurricane Irene and move it away from them in Georgia and South Carolina, were given mercy. God said yes. But he said something different, something much bigger to the residents of Pamlico County when they prayed for God to spare them. He didn't give them mercy; He gave them grace. Grace is the ability to endure the trial. God gives that endurance too, and then He gives the help that we desperately plead for, in the middle of the trial. These volunteers are answers to thousands of prayers, prayed months ago by people in agony. God was preparing their good works ahead of time, for them to do.
We'd all rather have mercy -- to escape the pain. But we really need grace -- the tenderizing effect of enduring the pain. If Irene had never come to our shores, 1850 Christians who long to love others, would never have come either. Praise the Lord for His inscrutable wisdom!

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