While most begin their plans to enter into a very joyous time of the year which begins with that great gathering with friends and family around a table overflowing with an abundance of food (a true symbol of our Lord's abundant blessings upon us in the previous year) and then moves into the very festive Christmas season, there are many who are not at all ready to even think about entering such a season. In NY and NJ, the lives of many, including a good number of OPC families, have had their lives turned upside down, inside out, as a result of devastation Hurricane Sandy caused on the NJ / NY shoreline. For many of us, the hurricane came and went and life goes on. For many others, they have entered into a new reality.
While it's one thing to acknowledge that God is sovereign in all matters great and small, good and bad, it's a whole other thing to be able to rest in that under such difficult circumstances. And this is where the church must step in. We must reach out to our brother and sister in need and minister to them. The Word of God teaches that we may not simply say "Be warm, be well-fed" (James 2:16), but our faith is to be shown by action. And when better to help than in a crisis situation. Many have been stepping up to help and others are ready to help when their services can be used. We do wait upon our "boots on the ground" to help direct our help. At this time, there is a need for more workers in NJ. There is not so great a need presently in NY, as we are again in a waiting stage of assessing the next steps forward. (Some of this is caused by regulations of what we are permitted to do. Pray for the Lord's guidance here.)
It has been said that a silver-lining of disasters is this opportunity to serve one another in a fashion that was not there before. The volunteers from Trinity OPC in Hatboro, PA, who used their Saturday to drive to Franklin Square, NY, to muck out the basement of one of their widows were grateful for the opportunity to serve in this way that was really a small thing to them, but meant the world to the one they served. Or the volunteers from Immanuel OPC in Medford who did the same thing, but with the destination of the NJ shore. Out of thankfulness for the opportunity to serve this past weekend, the deacons of the Medford church are striving to fill two vans full of volunteers to work this coming Saturday.
The electrician who drove down to NJ from New Hampshire to help out and the HVAC professional who flew to NY from Florida have been blessed in helping folks get their heating systems and electricity operating properly again, even as they has been an incredible blessing upon those whom they came to serve. Even as our Lord taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), so these volunteers are experiencing it themselves.
Of course, volunteering is not the only way to share the love of Christ with one another. Many are contributing in other ways. One family donated a car! Others have donated funds, or furthered the awareness of effort. One brother offered the use of his truck. Others are helping to recruit volunteers from their school. We have varied gifts and giftings. Pray that the Lord will make clear to each of us how and when he will have us be able to participate in ministering to the suffering of this portion of the body of Christ.
Info on how to volunteer or donate can be found here.