Monday, June 10, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Church helps storm victims

Re:New Community Church in Cabot sprung into action with the precision of a well-trained Air Force squadron when an EF5 tornado decimated Moore, Okla., on May 20.

Pastor Spencer Dunlap said, “My heart just broke about the parents who lost their kids at the school.” Just 10 hours later, hundreds of people from the church and the community were filling more than 250 boxes with food, water, hygiene products and even toys for kids, as reported this week by The Leader’s Jeffrey Smith.

Eight congregants loaded up a van and a 12-foot trailer and hit the road the next morning and headed west to help their neighbors 338 miles away. Donors from around the country gave $1,500 to the church’s storm-relief efforts.

“Annihilation. As far as the eye could see was leveled. It was unreal,” Dunlap said when the group arrived. The destruction was caused by the most powerful tornado possible with winds up to 210 miles per hour.

Twenty-four people were killed, including 10 children. Entire neighborhoods were flattened, causing immeasurable grief and loss for families in an area that looks a lot like central Arkansas.

“We fed people, prayed for people, picked up debris and helped families collect their personal effects. (We were) there to serve and do whatever was needed. What I saw besides physical destruction was emotional destruction. People were sort of wandering around and did not know what to do next. We tried to ask good questions, pray for people and help them get structure by cutting a tree in their yard, working side-by-side,” the pastor said.

Despite the destruction, the storm victims raised American flags on the debris that was once their homes. While Oklahomans start to rebuild, Re:New Community Church is preparing for the next disaster.

“We are creating a formal disaster relief ministry. It will have the resources, skills and be a first-response team in the region and beyond,” Dunlap said.

We are inspired by their faith, effort and commitment to helping wherever they are needed. Re:New Church makes us proud we live here.