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Shared by Yuwei We landed in Florida and headed to the church directly without even time for lunch. I was prepared for hard labor work, but my team didn’t have much work to do in the first afternoon. …
We landed in Florida and headed to the church directly without even time for lunch. I was prepared for hard labor work, but my team didn’t have much work to do in the first afternoon. So instead, I spent most of the first session talking with two chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They were very interested in how I came to faith as a young Chinese and even converted my family. That conversation reminded me of lots of things in my early stages as a believer and our church members’ effort to save my soul. At the first night I shared my takings before the congregation - I said that all the hard work we do here, the sweat of moving trees, the arm and shoulder pain from pulling nails and breaking walls, the risk of climbing up and down and fixing the roofs – all this work reminded me of how costly it is to save one soul, how much God has done for me and how other people have labored in a similar way for my salvation. I shall never lose gratitude or take anything for granted.
Our team worked on two major houses with mud-out and roof work. One of the homeowners was a believer, she cried after we finished all the work in just two days and presented her the Bible and kept thanking God. It was a very touching moment. At the other house, the homeowner used to go to church when he was very young but doesn’t keep faith actively. Two chaplains from Billy Graham had a long conversation with him; they managed to break the surface of his faith and convinced him of the problem of sin that only Christ can resolve. In the end they prayed together, and the homeowner received Christ. Samaritan’s Purse keeps track of such cases as “one salvation,” and they updated the count every evening. By the time I left, they had already gotten to “82 salvations,” and that was counted from only three weeks (in the Punta Gorda site alone). It is very encouraging to see the instant outcome of our work. I also asked the chaplains what they will do for these souls; they said local churches will follow up (that’s the contract they have with Samaritan’s Purse) and try to involve them in discipleship classes. Our effort will for sure not be in vain. I pray that among them there will be good and real fruits coming up.
Lastly, I want to share a special connection I had with one of my team members. Her name is Pam; she came with her husband Dennis, both are around 70. Pam was very lively and super friendly to us; she became good friends with Deacon Grace (Sookyeon). On the third day, she was amazed to know my English name is Jacqueline, which is the same name as her adopted daughter. But her daughter is a “prodigal,” and struggles with sexual orientation, which greatly troubles the mother’s heart. On my third and last day (after other members left) we just stayed with each other all the time and talked a lot. Finally, before I left, she shared with me that it’s no coincidence that God put us together; I was like a daughter by her side, and my presence was such a comfort for her and an encouragement to keep the hope in her daughter. She also dearly loves our church members and wants to come for our Zoe Conference with her husband. I pray that she will receive even more grace from Zoe and her daughter will one day come back to God.
This is my testimony. I’m very tired but very happy. I see God planned well for me to not be able to join Kentucky but able to make this trip. I hope we can have more opportunities to go out like this and let our presence be a blessing for others in the light of Jesus!
Hello, my name is Christian, and this is my testimony in regards to the relief work we did in Florida. At first, I had anxious thoughts because I knew nothing of what I would encounter in Florida. I thought I was going to go and wrestle some alligator or something to save my group, but that was not the case. I was assigned to lead our team and go to the first home where we arrived after the home had been completed. The homeowner and volunteers were tearing up and crying because they were so touched about all that they experienced before we arrived. I felt out of place because we had no connection yet. We huddled in a circle and the team lead began to introduce us COJ-ers to everyone. Speaking so highly about our church, she asked me (the least qualified person) to speak on behalf of the church and introduce ourselves. I could only speak of how proud I was of our church and how humbled I was to be a part of it. We immediately went to the next home, and we went right to work. Hard work. It's hard to explain it all, you just had to be there, but the work was humbling. It's like the Lord renewed my strength every hour. The next morning, we led praise, and I was blessed to hear the one voice of COJ. Usually on the praise team you can’t hear the voice of the whole church but at that very moment I heard the voice of the bride, the united, beautiful, and pure voice of the united Church of Jesus. Every soul playing a part. We went to the next home, which was completely destroyed, moldy and even an experienced carpenter said this home should’ve been a complete loss. But we went to work to rebuild the broken home. At one point I could not hear because I was surrounded by hammer clamming on the wall, and I couldn’t see because the humidity fogged up my goggles. I heard our leader say, “Alright, we need a volunteer to go under the trailer and gut it out,” No one answered. I didn’t hear him, so I said, “sorry what,” but he thought I said, “I’ll do it,” So immediately he gave me a protective suit and prepared me for war. Jesus told us to enter through the narrow road and I'll tell you what, I’ve never seen this verse more clearly displayed. The narrow opening under the trailer was so small that you couldn’t turn sideways. It was pitch dark and basically you had to army crawl through and out the bottom of this trailer to grab wet insulation and drag it back into the small hole opening. At one point the person who crawled in front of me poked a hole in one insulation bag to rip it out and the floodgates of mud water and God knows what else started soaking the ground under us. At this moment I laid my face down on my arms and started praying, “Lord, have mercy.”
The night before the day we would leave, there was talk about another hurricane, hurricane Nicole, and how it may delay our stay. We wouldn’t have been able to fly back under these conditions. We went to sleep and before our sleep I prayed that Yeshua could allow us to not be delayed but that this hurricane can pass over us. We woke up to the news that the hurricane passed over us as we slept. How amazing is that, that the hurricane passes us while we are peacefully sleeping. I saw on the news how this hurricane destroyed and sunk land and devastated even more parts of Florida, but it all occurred as we slept peacefully.
Fast forward: we finished that home and signed the bible, and the homeowner began to cry. The next day we worked on our last home before we had to reunite with the ‘gator boys’ group aka Dustin. Our group hugged us and exchanged contacts; it was so touching. I never thought you could build such bonds in such a small period of time. On the plane back I couldn’t help but be in awe of how “blessed” I am. I was once like that homeowner. The flood of life, depression, hopelessness, darkness, and all that comes with it had once broken me too. But Yeshua sent his soldiers to come and rescue me too. The last time I took a plane to Florida my parents were just divorced, and we were broken. What a 180-degree turn around, that now I am on a plane on the way back from delivering the message of the King. I am a son of the King; we are children of the King.
The victory is ours. Thank you.
Hello all, my name is Raul, but most of you know me by my last name: Roca. I was part of our church’s first relief work trip at Punta Gorda, Florida. Everything from planning the trip to getting on site was so nerve-racking, but with a lot of prayers and willing hearts, we all made it to the host church safely and ready to work! Arrival was at noontime, so we settled down quickly, had orientation and headed straight to the first site to begin an afternoon shift.
For me, the first home we went to was the most memorable. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by other Samaritan’s Purse volunteers from all over the nation. They were on lunch break, so we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and get to know one another. Gary, our team leader, explained that the house had flooded with about three feet of water. This doesn’t seem like much, but the house was already lifted off the ground and on a hill. There was a river behind the house whose top was about 20 feet below the ground level of the house. That means that the water had to rise about 27 feet. This was unimaginable and only seeing all the damages caused to this home could you really understand.
The family was not there on the first day, but our team tried its best to finish as much as possible so the next day we could have the house done for them. We had to remove grout, tiles, and wood from the floor, moldy drywall in all the rooms, and shock charge all areas to remove mold. The work was hard and tiring and the heat made it all the more difficult, but our church members finished all tasks quickly. Our team leader and all other volunteers were super impressed by our efforts and youthful energy. The first day ended and we were headed back to the base church. We began the next day by leading praise and other volunteers were so thankful and asked if we could do it again the next day since that was the best way they had started their day volunteering there. We headed to another home in the morning before returning to the first home in the afternoon.
We were almost done with the home when we finally got to meet the family. It was a young couple, with their two children, a boy, and a girl. Despite us being dirty and smelly, the wife greeted us all with a hug as her eyes were teary. They explained that they were already Christians and that even through this trial they were confident that God would guide them through it. None of them seemed upset or resentful to God. They were standing next to all their possessions destroyed and the home they had built completely ruined and still smiled. They really reminded me of Job except even better if (I can say that) since they had the assurance of Christ and did not think of themselves as self-righteous. We had sent them a signed Bible and the wife asked to pray for us. She began to cry and gave such a moving and touching prayer that had us all holding back tears. She also asked us to take a group photo so that she could print it out and hang it on her fridge once her house was rebuilt to always pray for us and thank Jesus for everything we did. This one moment made the whole trip worth it all. As the Church of Jesus has been praying for so long to do relief work, I pray that we may continue to make a difference while giving all glory and honor to our lord Jesus.