Hurricane Irma Edition
September 7, 2017

John Hampton

Lead Pastor John Hampton

Last week in this very column I wrote about helping the folks in Houston with Hurricane Harvey recovery. This week we are preparing for a hurricane to hit right here! Funny how fast things change.
Let me pass along some very important information about what’s happening at Journey, or more correctly, what’s not happening at Journey this weekend:

All weekend worship gatherings at both our Apopka and Mount Dora campuses are cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.

  • This is not a decision that we made quickly or take lightly, but with hurricane alerts and warnings for our entire state, I think it is the safer and wiser course of action to not ask our staff, volunteers, members and attenders to venture out in unpredictable, dangerous and possibly catastrophic conditions. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3 NIV)
  • Our monthly Food For Life event is cancelled for this Saturday.
  • The Journey Moms’ Night of Worship is cancelled for Monday evening at our Apopka campus.
  • We will make available online a brief time of musical worship led by Pastor Jeremy Tomlinson and members of our Journey band. This will give you an opportunity to worship at home with your family and loved ones, assuming you have electricity or cell phone connection. This song set will be available on Saturday evening at 5PM.
  • I will also be doing a special devotional titled, “A Savior For The Storms” that will be released on Saturday evening as well. This brief message will look at how Jesus is with us in the storms of life and what God wants us to become and do as He leads us through them. This will be a great opportunity to share this encouraging message with your family and friends as well. Who knows how God may use this non-gathering time of worship this weekend to draw many to Himself! Praying that is exactly what will happen.
  • After you take care of your family and their safety, check on your neighbors. This is a great opportunity to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We’ve seen in Houston that when the church is unified and mobilized, it is an awesome presence in the community. May we demonstrate that same concern in our local communities.
  • The Journey building in Apopka is not a designated or approved storm shelter. The authorized storm shelter in the area closest to our Apopka campus is Wekiva High School located on Hiawassee. My understanding is that all public schools are designated as storm shelters, and will be equipped and staffed appropriately. If you have questions about what is the closest storm shelter to you, you can go to this link for more information. Keep in mind that some counties don’t show any shelters until they are ready to open:
  • Obviously losing a weekend of gathering for worship has serious ramifications in many areas, not least of which is financially. We are still trying to recover from a giving slump this summer, and not meeting this weekend will only add to that pressure. However, we keep an adequate amount of funds on hand just for emergencies like this, and in the short-term we will stay mission-focused and stewardship-wise. But weekends like this make the case in very dramatic ways how much online giving helps. If you are not an online, automated giver, please consider becoming one. You may¬†click here to set up online giving now.

Please be safe this weekend and make wise choices. Above all else, know that God is in control and He will guide and provide for us through this storm as He has done many times in the past. Through the prophet Isaiah, God said to His people:

But now, this is what the Lord says-
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…(Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV)

Father, we pray for protection and safety for all in our region and in our state. We are asking that Irma would take a dramatic and unexpected turn to the east, out into the Atlantic and just dissipate. But we are going to BE wise and prepared. We know the prudent see danger and take refuge. May we make wise and prudent decisions this weekend. May we be good neighbors, checking on those especially who are frail and vulnerable among us. Prepare your people to be at their best when conditions are at their worst. May we serve and love and give in unprecedented ways as disciples of Jesus who love you, love people and serve our world. Through Jesus we pray, amen.