"... may Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love." (Eph 3:17)
Traveling through Vilonia, you see a lot of roots. Hundred and hundreds of trees, some very old and massive, were blown over and pulled from the ground. Tragically, many of these were blown on to roofs of houses and barns and caused severe, and in many cases, total damage.
Yesterday (5-7) I went with a group of 11 people from PHUMC to help with the clean-up efforts. After checking in at the high school, we went to the Vilonia UMC to get our assignments. Some on our crew who were skilled with chainsaws went to work a project with that need, while the rest of us went to the home of a 95-year-old woman, Inez Coker, to help get her property back in order. Some on our crew spent many hours raking up debris and picking up trash. She wanted that done first so that she could mow her yard. Yes, at 95 she still mows her own yard. Not bad. A couple of us, myself included, spent the morning taking a sheet iron roof off a barn that had been blown over.
We all got together for lunch at the Vilonia UMC, that graciously fed several hundred people a free lunch of chicken, cole slaw, beans, fries, and desserts. It was wonderful, but quite frankly, it was really hard to work after that meal! But we pressed on, and after lunch we went back to the Coker residence where some continued working hard picking up debris, and some of us went with Gerald, Inez's son, to pick up limbs in their pasture so that it can be ready to be cut for hay. In this endeavor we were joined by people from several other groups. A group of college students from Harding got together and came to town to see what they could do, and several other people from all around just decided to go to Vilonia to lend a hand. After a good day's work, Gerald brought us all together, expressed their gratitude, and asked me to close the day with prayer together.
It's interesting to me that often when people have so much taken from them, that they actually feel like they have more than they did before. The Cokers just kept talking about how blessed they were and how good God is to them. Their faith was a huge blessing to me, I can tell you that. I hope that I could have that same attitude in that kind of situation were it to happen to me.
Inez, by the way, is one of our faithful TV viewers. She even sent back with me a donation to the church because she wants to be a part of a ministry that has been and continues to be a blessing to her.
Getting to be there for just one day to do what little we could taught me a lot about roots. Ultimately, all our roots are connected together in God. Storms like this one have a way of revealing the roots underneath the surface, in more ways than one.