Recently, I had the opportunity to join Church of the Apostles as a group of men and women took a trip to Goldsboro, NC to provide relief for several victims of the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Matthew in October. Over twenty of us gathered at the church early on a Saturday morning to embark on the journey.
After arriving in Goldsboro, filling out waivers, and dividing into teams, Chip, our leader from NC Baptist Men's Disaster Relief, took the time to mention a verse that he read in his quiet time that morning, 2 Corinthians 9:6 ~ Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. I don’t remember all the specifics of what he said, and certainly wouldn’t have expected it at the time, but the verse Chip shared stuck in my head. Not just for the rest of the day but for several weeks to come.
|Inside Newman's Home|
Our teams then departed, with our first stop being right down the road to Newman’s home. Newman had been introduced to us before we left as a faithful member of Love Memorial Church which is serving as disaster relief headquarters in the area. Newman's mobile home and nearly all of his possessions were destroyed by the hurricane. With nowhere to live, Newman’s family traveled back to Honduras until repairs could be made. All his appliances were on the front lawn, unsalvageable, and the inside of his home was only wooden studs. Massive damage was done. And this was only one house, in a field with at least twenty others, in a city with a population of over 30,000. It was now time to get to work.
With our group split in two, half of us headed to help a resident clear her house of damaged furniture, sheet rock and carpet and the other half to help a local church. I was part of the group that went to the church, where water had flooded the crawlspace and seeped into the floors. We partnered with members of the Air Force from nearby Seymour Johnson Base to haul the entire HVAC system from inside the crawlspace to the curb, move furniture from two offices, and tear up existing carpets. All these tasks that were certainly needed and met with true gratefulness.
However, if I’m being honest, part of me felt like it was insignificant. Sure, I gave up a Saturday. But some of these people had lost everything they owned. And maybe I moved some furniture and ripped up some carpet. But there were guys under the church most of the day waging war with an HVAC system. For some reason, what I was doing didn’t feel like enough.
So, as I thought about this feeling and pondered my part in relation to the overall damage of the hurricane. I started to think more and more about the verse from earlier that day and what Paul had said to the Corinthians, “Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow generously, reap generously.” Was my sowing sparing or generous?
This pushed me to think about and apply what we had been learning recently in our Song of Songs Sunday school class, “God intends earthly things to lead us into heavenly realities.” Paul used an earthy thing, sowing seeds, to point to a heavenly reality of what it looks like to be generous. Less seeds in a field will obviously lead to a smaller harvest, but more seeds, they lead to a plentiful harvest.
So how do I relate this to my time in Goldsboro? And work that I questioned if it was making a difference? Well, maybe I only planted one seed that day. But as a group we scattered a handful. And as a church, we have an opportunity to plant a field. There’s still a lot to be done in Goldsboro and all over eastern NC. If each person sows only one seed, does one, by itself, seemingly insignificant task, we could reap a harvest. A harvest that could make a world of difference to the communities that are so close by and the people that live in them.
I learned a lot from our trip to Goldsboro. I learned that we have a lot of members of this church that will give up their time to help others, even if it involves crawling under a church in the mud for four hours. I’m thankful to be part of this community and know that we will continue to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.