The sky is blue and the weather warm, but the challenges from Hurricane Matthew continue here in North Carolina...
Yesterday there was a disturbance at one of the relief centers, and so security is being ramped up at all the centers. Please pray for calm and for everyone's safety, including officers.
This morning we were briefed in the EOC that although the flood waters are slowly starting to recede, many areas are still inundated and inaccessible, and water rescues and recoveries continue.
I spend a great deal of time talking and praying with first responders, support staff, and victims. For instance, this morning I greeted the sheriff and checked to see how he was holding up. I had a good conversation with an officer and gave him one of our law enforcement Bibles. As I write this, I have been talking with a call taker who needed to tell me about a difficult call she received from a flood victim. I also checked in with the kitchen crew that prepares hundreds of meals every day for the many first responders who even now are still saving lives. QRT does not have the resources to provide large scale food assistance, but we are able to target specific areas, such as providing fresh vegetables (very much appreciated, for instance, by one worker who has a sodium intolerance issue and desperately needed some veggies). To boost morale, I buy occasional treats (yesterday I brought 12 dozen donuts for grateful folks), and other special needs or requests from workers who sometimes work day after day with little or no rest and need a little treat to pick them up.
While I work to help with some of these needs, I watch for those who show signs of stress, depression, exhaustion or anger, and make myself available to listen always, to talk when needed, and pray when appropriate.
Humor often goes a long way to defuse tension or lighten the mood in deadly circumstances. I enjoy telling an officer that his buddies told me to talk to him becausehe needs all the help he can get from the chaplain, but it probably won't do any good. As a former cop, when I hand an officer one of our Bibles and show him or her the commentary introduction I wrote in the front of it, I remark that it addresses "all the issues in law enforcement that you know that I know that you know that I know about." This always draws a knowing smile.
I also visit relief centers. Yesterday I noticed a woman who was sitting on a cot, obviously distressed. She shared with me that she had no family and didn't know what was going to happen to her. I listened to her and then as I always do I asked her if I could pray for her. As is almost always the case she gratefully said yes. I prayed and she found comfort in the prayer.
Over the years I have seen again and again that what people need in these tragic circumstances is care and compassion, but most of all hope--hope that transcends even the grave, hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is to share that hope... thanks for your partnership!
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