Part of a Bigger Movement
The EFCA responding in Florida
Hurricane Ian was a difficult storm for forecasters to predict, with possible paths ranging from the Florida Panhandle all the way down the western coast. When the storm took a surprising turn into Cape Coral and Fort Myers, it landed as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the state, with winds just shy of a Category 5 and a 12 ft storm surge rolling through Fort Myers Beach.
ReachGlobal Crisis Response leadership was meeting together in Minnesota as Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. We started reaching out the Southeast District and churches in the path as soon as we could. An assessment team planned to arrive in Florida as soon as it was safe to do so. Before our staff even arrived in Florida we knew we would be making our way towards Compass Church in Naples and Fort Myers EFC.
Welcoming Us Back
When Hurricane Irma hit Naples back in 2017, it brought down thousands of trees on homes and roads, trapping people in their communities. ReachGlobal Crisis Response deployed a small response team with chainsaws to work in partnership with Pastor John and Compass Church. As Pastor John recalls, the team cut trees for days on end, and his church started relationships with families who were affected. Several families started attending Compass Church after Hurricane Irma, and some are still there today. He hopes the response to Hurricane Ian will create similar opportunities to share the love of Christ with families near his church.
Naples missed the brunt of the storm during Hurricane Ian, but Pastor John quickly made contact with a mobile home community, Spring Creek Village, just to north in Bonita Springs. There are dozens of these small 55+ communities along the Florida coast, and the homes there are mostly older and were not built to today's hurricane codes. Houses took massive damage from both the wind and storm surge from the small canals in between homes. Families in Spring Creek Village are mostly living on fixed incomes, so they have very little ability to pay for help, and the hopelessness was palpable by the time Crisis Response staff arrived. The need for physical help far outweighs what we can offer, but our staff are bringing real help by working to empty homes and real hope by listening to stories and offering prayers.
Compass Church is a smaller church, and Pastor John was open about the need for partners to be able to respond. With limited staff and church leadership, much of the responsibility would fall on his own already full plate. But by partnering with ReachGlobal Crisis Response, we can increase the capacity for serving in this new mission field. And it helps his small church see that they are part of something more. "It's times like this our church members get to see they are part of a bigger movement, in a way they wouldn't normally," Pastor John shared. Seeing teams coming from EFCA churches to help in Florida will be a huge encouragement to Compass Church.
We can do more and we can do it better when we do it together. -Pastor John Secrest
A Bigger Mission Field Needs Partners
Fort Myers EFC was blessed that they had dedicated a lot of time to removing trees from their property prior to ever hearing about Hurricane Ian. Their church building took very little damage from the storm, and they have agreed to open that facility up for us to be able to host teams in Florida. As an aging congregation, they are praying for the opportunity to connect with younger people through this new access ministry. "Older people have a lot of love to give and a lot of encouragement to offer," Pastor Ron told us. Crisis Response is excited to be offer our trauma care training to help their members as they are talking with friends and family about the storm.
Partnering with two EFCA churches will help us connect in more areas, to share the love of Christ in a greater way. But we need more than church partners to respond, we need you too.
- Pray that God would provide for a response that shares the love of Christ in the areas impacted by Hurricane Ian.
- Pray for wisdom as we develop partnerships with Compass Church and Fort Myers EFC.
- Pray that the truth of the Gospel would shine bright in the darkness of hopelessness and hurt.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a team to serve in Florida. We are taking teams this year and tentatively scheduling into 2023.
- Serve on staff for 1-6 months (or longer). We need more staff to help with clean-up in the community, hosting teams, trauma care, admin and more. Email email@example.com for more info.
- Give Sacrificially - We know times are hard, but we need people to partner with us financially to sustain a long-term response in Florida. Every gift helps.
- Give Creatively - The EFCA accepts donations from IRAs or gifts of stocks as well as traditional gifts. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on ways you can give.
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