Pastor John

Pastor John

When I was a young boy, my dad’s youngest brother, Uncle Otha, experienced major damage to his house when a tornado struck in the tiny village of Dover, Kentucky where he lived. I don’t remember a lot about that experience other than how sad my family was and the shocking reality that one day you’re living in your house; the next day you’re not. Thankfully no lives were lost in that tornado and my uncle was able to rebuild a new house on the same lot and lived there for many more years.

The damage and loss of life that we’ve witnessed from the 30 tornadoes that struck six states last Friday night is staggering. Any tornado that stays on the ground for over 200 miles wreaking havoc along the way is hard to fathom. The inspiring stories of people who survived and distressing messages from those who didn’t, create a mixture of conflicting emotions that are intensified during this time of year.

Tornadoes sometimes happen in the spring and summer in Kentucky, but not at Christmas. The thought of losing loved ones right before they were planning to gather, of families without homes, let alone presents, for their children–it’s heartbreaking in every way imaginable.

And yet, as one Kentucky pastor wisely stated, “I believe Christmas is exactly what the suffering need. Not the shallow sentimentality that only mocks our pain, but Christmas in its truest form. What we need is the good news that because God is born to us, we now have a God who can relate to us.”

That’s what we talked about in last week’s Christmas Soundtracks message. (Click here if you haven’t watched it yet). Christmas means God got personally involved in the sadness, suffering and sorrow of our broken world when the Eternal Word became human flesh. Jesus is described in Scripture as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And if you study His life, you will see this is so–poverty, homelessness, being rejected and spoken against, with a tragic ending of betrayal, scourging, and the cruelty of a Roman cross. Jesus knew suffering like none before or after. When we encounter the most painful, unexplainable storms of life, who better to turn to than a Savior who suffered?

And who better to offer hope and help to those who are hurting than followers of Jesus. Several from Journey have asked about how they can help those who have lost so much due to the tornadoes. I can’t think of a better organization to give relief funds to than I.D.E.S. (International Disaster Emergency Services). You can go to ides.org to see all the many ways they are already helping.

According to our friends at the Spire Network, I.D.E.S. Disaster Response Coordinators were on the ground in the hard-hit area of Mayfield, KY meeting with Kentucky Disaster Management officials the day after tornadoes ripped through. The situation in Mayfield is grim and I.D.E.S. has been told by Emergency Management to hold off sending in volunteers for the time being.

In the meantime, I.D.E.S. has set up their initial basecamp in Bowling Green, KY with the Bowling Green Christian Church. The first phase of the deployment will involve cleanup, placing tarps on roofs, and debris removal. I.D.E.S. is also partnering immediately with Hartford (KY) Christian Church to respond to damage in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. I.D.E.S. will also be organizing teams of cleanup volunteers for at least the next four weeks.

I.D.E.S. is a distinctly Christian Church ministry that has been helping victims of disasters and offering hope in the name of Jesus since 1973. They know what they’re doing. 100% of your donation will go to help the victims of these tornadoes. I.D.E.S. takes nothing out of your gifts for operational expenses.

Another reputable Christian organization that you can give relief funds to is Samaritan’s Purse (samaritanspurse.org). Samaritan’s Purse is one of the leading disaster response ministries in the world and you can be assured that they too have deployed many resources to helping the areas affected by the tornadoes.

Thanks for the concern so many expressed for both mine and Melinda’s families in Kentucky. They all actually live several hours away from the hardest hit areas. But there are at least over 70 grieving families who will experience much more than just a blue Christmas. Their lives have been shattered and forever changed. Anything we can do to help them know they aren’t alone in their sorrow and suffering would be a great Christmas gift to give.

Loving the giving Journey,

Pastor John

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