April 16, 2020
TENNESSEE TORNADO RESPONSE- MARCH 2020 UPDATE
March 2020 is not a month many will ever forget.
We are faced with challenging times as we seek the Lord how to navigate huge changes in the normal way we are used to doing life. Despite the challenges and the changes, there is also the knowledge that God is in control, nothing takes Him by surprise, and that He always has a good plan for our lives! There is an excitement in the air of what is to come as God’s glory is released in greater and greater measures.
Some changes for us include the evacuation and arrival of United Rescue Alliance volunteers from the Bahamas, with most of them now making Camp Barkeley (URA HQ) their temporary base and home. We are so thankful for their service in the Bahamas and it is a pleasure to welcome them to Abilene while next steps are evaluated. Their hearts to serve have already been a blessing to our local community as efforts are being made to seek out how we can best support Texas 211 - A Call For Help when so many are looking for answers.
Before restrictions were in place, on March 2nd -3rd, a series of large tornadoes touched down in West and Middle Tennessee. 26 people were killed and more than 300 were injured. The affects were devastating and widespread, with some homes completely demolished. Iris Abilene and some volunteers were blessed to partner with United Rescue Alliance to send a small team to support local contacts and the wider community in Nashville, Tennessee. Our team was able to help with clean up efforts, train and support others to connect with local communities to offer assistance, offer Watts of Love lights, and help a local church with meal deliveries.
While helping with cleanup of fallen trees and construction debris, our team had the privilege of praying with a homeowner who had sustained damage to her rental property. She was there working alongside many volunteers cleaning up the neighborhood, clearly devastated by the impact of the tornadoes. The emotions of the event were heightened by challenges with getting time off work and a husband with a terminal diagnosis. She was overwhelmed and so very grateful for the outpouring of support, and blessed by the prayers of those who gathered around her.
As an overflow of our service to Nashville, our team had the privilege of supporting one of our local team members at a local church event for the homeless and underprivileged, where she gave her personal testimony of salvation, healing and deliverance. It was a powerful message of hope that was well received by both volunteers and attendees. During the event, our team helped serve a hot meal, give out supplies, and pray for those in attendance. Comments were even made with amazement that people would travel from other states to help in their city’s time of need. It was a beautiful time of fellowship!
We met so many amazing people in Nashville. It was an honor to work alongside the incredible local volunteers and see their energetic response to help those in crisis. In the week following the disaster, it was estimated that over 30,000 volunteers turned out to offer assistance. As always, the buzz of the first days and even weeks after a disaster promotes an atmosphere of coming alongside your neighbor and solidarity. As we are all faced with varied challenges at this time, we ask that you would remember the people of Tennessee in your prayers as many of them still face the reality of the rebuild phase and embrace a new normal for their lives after the tornadoes.
Our prayers are with you all at this time. We pray that we will all keep our eyes on Jesus and call forth His plans and purposes in our individual lives, our communities, and the nations of the world. May His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!