As a long-serving volunteer with disaster recovery organizations, Dennis Steffy began his journey with ReachGlobal Crisis Response back in the summer of 2022. He originally connected with ReachGlobal through his home church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Given his previous experience with disaster relief, Dennis became the liaison between his church and Crisis Response in hopes of coordinating a volunteer team. After a preliminary visit to the ReachGlobal Crisis Response site in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he dug right in. A week or two later, he was asked to help set up an initial response site in Hazard, Kentucky, responding to the flash floods in July of 2022.
Since then Dennis has served as an adjunct staff member at ReachGlobal Crisis Response. He served three weeks in Kentucky and over three months responding to Hurricane Ian at the Fort Myers site throughout late 2022 and early 2023. Almost immediately, Dennis recognized that ReachGlobal was unlike the other disaster relief groups he had worked with previously. Upon reflection, he noted, “We could tell right away that there is more to this organization.”
As a ministry, ReachGlobal Crisis Response’s mentality is always centered on people over projects. During disaster relief it can become easy to overlook the homeowners for the sake of perfect drywall or blemish free paint; however, Dennis was drawn to ReachGlobal Crisis Response because of the prioritization of gospel advancement, saying “ReachGlobal Crisis Response is very much faith anchored and people anchored.” This drastically contrasts the mindset Dennis previously experienced, “Let’s get them back in their home and move on to the next one.”
ReachGlobal Crisis Response is proof that homes get built even when kingdom-building is the focus. Speaking of a particular homeowner in Bonita Springs, Florida, Dennis said “In the months after we started on his home, he is a changed fellow.” Dennis expressed how often people would spot his blue shirt in the affected areas and flag him down, saying “Well, aren’t you going to pray with me?” These communities are searching for lasting meaning after a disaster. The primary goal of ReachGlobal Crisis Response, Dennis expressed, is “...to build that relationship with the community and earn their trust, and share your faith with them.”
ReachGlobal’s commitment to the motto “people over projects” extends beyond the homeowners to the green shirt volunteers. Dennis recounts his experience with numerous volunteer teams saying, “The majority of people that come there for the week go home with a whole different attitude about helping people.” They come willing to meet physical needs and leave having also met emotional and spiritual needs. As a member of the older generation, Dennis has been particularly impacted and encouraged by the youth teams who are willing to learn and serve. He has seen each team prepare for the return home asking each other “How can we do this again, when can we do this again?” The volunteers are not just talking about coming back to serve with ReachGlobal, but they are exploring how they can do it in their community. This transformation is not the result of a week of doing good deeds and getting a job done, but it is the work of Christ.
Dennis was also shocked when he first began working with volunteer teams that so many people would pay to come and serve, often taking time off work and doing construction in the heat of southern Florida, sometimes in unairconditioned homes. “Every time I look at that calendar and it's booked solid… It's just so amazing how [God is] providing.” No matter the circumstances, God provides the volunteers needed according to his good plan.
Dennis has experienced time and time again God’s miraculous provision, and according to him, that is one of the defining characteristics of a successful missions organization. Another defining characteristic outlined by Dennis is prayer. Prayer is a powerful tool. Without it, ReachGlobal Crisis Response would not have affected as much meaningful change in the communities they serve. “Because ReachGlobal is so prayer anchored, I think that's why we are where we are.” Only through God’s provision and the consistent prayers of ReachGlobal staff, volunteers, homeowners, and prayer partners all over the world is Crisis Response able to do what they do.
Dennis’ journey with ReachGlobal Crisis Response echoes John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you.” Appointed in his new role of adjunct staff with ReachGlobal Crisis Response, Dennis has seen a new way to share the love of Christ with those in need- prioritizing gospel advancement and personal relationships. Through the ups and downs of disaster recovery efforts, God has continued to grow fruit in the communities Dennis serves. As the second half of that verse says, “so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you.” The Lord is providing for this ministry; and as Dennis said, “If He calls you to do something, He is going to provide.”
Adjunct staff like Dennis fill a critical role within ReachGlobal Crisis Response, helping build out our staff to host teams, connect in communities, and share the love of Christ. If you have served on a team with us before, maybe God is calling you to take the next step and serve as adjunct staff for a week or more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can be a part of what God is doing at our response sites.
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