Love Your Neighbor…

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Today I helped in the relief work from the Moore tornado of May 20, 2013.

What a devastating sight.

Beginning at 10am today Jim Stewart and I provided transportation for people whose homes had been destroyed or damaged.

The attitudes of the people we encountered were low, some were in shock, and most super quick to accept a ride from our First Baptist Norman church van.

Our goal was to pour out on them the same love that God has poured out on us. Our hope was that people left our van with a little more dignity, self-worth, and maybe even a smile (if we were lucky).
God led us to a neighborhood between 4th and 19th on Broadway in Moore.

Up and down the streets we went picking up whoever and for whatever reason. People were walking everywhere because the authorities made the decision that they couldn't drive their cars into the area.
Between 11am and 4:30pm we shuttled over 200 people over 50 miles (all within a 2 mile corridor).

We encountered elderly individuals trying to make it back home to their medications. We transported entire families and anything they could carry because they were going to be relocated into a hotel for an undetermined amount of time. We talked with strangers who showed us their storm shelter where they willingly crammed 11 of their neighbors into just before the tornado hit. We sheltered dozens of people in our FBCN van during the brief hailstorm this morning. During this period I was yelling at people who were getting pelted to "get into our van! There's no hail in here!" To which a passenger of ours responded, "You know you're right. This is a church van. There should be no hail (hell) in here." We laughed about that the rest of the day.

We eventually met up with some recent OU grads who were distributing Red Cross food. We partnered up to be their mobile unit for food. We would drive them to each street and they would go door to door with food and water while the FBCN van continued to transport people. Whenever they needed to restock the food we would find them and refill their supply.

God intricately weaves support around people in tragic situations.

About 3 hours into our work the national guard showed up. They told us they were here to do "search and rescue." Search and rescue?! 24 hours after the tornado hit struck me as a little late. It was hard for me to believe that there could be people stranded under the very houses we were shuttling around. When I asked the locals about it they said that the neighbors were the ones who did the initial search and rescue. The people of this neighborhood were the incarnation of Christ's words, "love your neighbor."

--Joey Armstrong, LifeSong Worship Minister/University Minister