”Last fall was a brutal hurricane season for the United States! Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, then Irma, and finally Maria. Many are still struggling to put their lives together.” Reports ARDF.
On January 1st The Weather Channel reports:
2017 a Record Year for Hurricanes and Disasters!
An Anglican Restoration Ministry
September the peninsula of Florida was ravaged by Hurricane Irma from
the Keys and Miami in the South 350 miles north to Jacksonville and
Tallahassee. Tens of thousands of homes across the state were
damaged by falling trees, high winds, by floodwaters and the infamous
black-mold. 2.5 Billion of crop damage alone was felt by farmers
across the state. The Weather Channel called Irma “the most
powerful Hurricane in Atlantic history!”
… this hurricane did not hit one location and move inland, or
stop like Harvey,
the whole state was affected.
- 185 mph lifetime max winds – tied with Florida Keys (1935), Gilbert (1988) and Wilma (2005) for second strongest max winds of all time in Atlantic hurricane. Allen had max winds of 190 mph in 1980.
- 185 mph max winds for 37 hours – the longest any cyclone around the globe has maintained that intensity on record. The previous record was Haiyan in the Northwest Pacific at 24 hours.
- 3.25 day lifetime as a Category 5 hurricane – tied with Cuba (1932) for longest lifetime as Category 5.
- Leeward Islands: Strongest storm on record to impact the Leeward Islands defined as 15-19°N, 65-60°W for this calculation, with max winds of 185 mph.
Another Difference? Unlike other hurricanes or disasters IrmaRelief.faith is run by, supported by and to a large degree ministered through Anglicans and Anglican churches across the country and the ACNA*. “Teams from eight states, Nova Scotia, and from 8 ACNA Dioceses have come and continue to come to help with ongoing Relief efforts” says Rev. Frederic Smith[Ric], Disaster Relief Coordinator for the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. Ric adds, “It has been incredible to see the outpouring of love and help from so many! In the Jacksonville area alone (Duval and St. Johns counties) over 2500 were helped with initial disaster relief efforts, clearing downed trees and limbs, repaired or replaced fences, assisted flood and mildew victims, and by utilizing a food and care bag ministry. Hundred of Bibles have been handed out along with baby supplies, cleaning supplies, hundreds of gallons and cases of water. Over 600 invitation cards to a local church with an invitation to receive the Lord on the other were distributed. Bishop Neil Lebhar recognized these efforts in his Bishop’s Address at Synod challenging Anglicans to engage in mission, the ministry of the Church.
“There is no doubt,” Smith says, “all this would not be possible save for God’s blessing and provision!” In December IrmaRelief moved to Miami, their initial team from St. John’s Island, SC bringing tools to help with the restoration efforts, furniture, lots of bottled water, many buckets of cleaning supplies, remaining supplies, emergency first aid equipment and perhaps a hundred Bibles. With the help of Archdeacon Jorge Finlay, pastor of Miami’s only Anglican Church, and Tommy Davis, the Administrator of Trustees, the team worked hard from Christmas through New Year’s Day. The Parish House(rectory) has been transformed after a century oak fell on it during Irma. Bishop Miller of Christ Church Anglican, Vero Beach, FL provided 100 Care Bags of food. Another 200 Invitation Cards in Miami await future teams for distribution, along with 100 Care Bags. Father Jorge said: “This is Amazing Ric, I cannot believe all that is being accomplished?!”
Endorsements, letters of encouragement and of course Testimonies continue to pour in. Wade is a member of Our Saviour Anglican in Jacksonville Beach. After volunteering on several outreach teams Irma Relief and ARDF were able to clean his yard, help repair his roof, replace his fence and shed that blew away. Wade said it would have taken ten years to accomplish what Irma Relief was able to do in a couple of weeks. Barbara’s house sustained sizable damage to her roof, ceilings, and floors and shorted out electric in her walls. A pillar of faith at Christ the King, Miami, Barbara burst into tears when we asked if we could help? . . . To read more of Wade and Barbara’s testimonies please scroll below...
Building relationships takes time. As we help meet physical needs we get to know families and earn the right to share all God has done in our lives. The initial phase of disaster relief is important, but the reconstruction and restoration phase is when the biggest difference can be made. Main-line denominations pitched-in together like in Texas to complete the initial phase of disaster relief, though much work remains rebuilding the damage. In December our teams noticed about one in ten roofs had plastic tarps in SW Miami four months after the storm. The Restoration phase of Super Storm Sandy took 4 years to rebuild. This project too will take time, a lot of effort and money to complete.
Touching lives with the Lifesaving Gospel of Jesus Christ is what this ministry is all about! This is truly a Restoration Ministry of compassion. The privilege to listen to a grieving heart and opportunity to pray with someone, to minister to the emotional pain and possibly lead a mother or even a family to the Lord (Acts 16:15) is why we exist! IrmaRelief mission weekends are planned in Miami through April. Teams are expected from PA, VA, NC, SC, possibly TN and GA with hopes some of our closer churches in FL will join in the ongoing rebuilding and restoration efforts.
If you and your church are blessed to receive these updates of what God’s Church is doing in Florida won’t you pray for us and ask your pastor and mission director how you can help? There is always room for you… Age or ability is no problem for our God. A 67 year old woman said I can’t lift but I can sit with someone, I can listen to their pain and pray with them; can I help? Of course! We need all the help we can get, for there is still much work to be done.
In my morning devotions I was praying for the huge majority in Miami who do not know the Lord, perhaps 95%?! My heart ached for every victim but especially for the unsaved. God led me to the many healings in Matthew 9… I saw it as the Restoration Ministry of Jesus. The Chapter ends with “The Sheep and the Harvest - And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then he said unto his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.’”
The heart of all restoration efforts is You! Your help serving on mission teams, creating and providing Care Bags, supporting through your donations to ARDF and in-kind donations, but most of all through your prayers! God is moving among His Church and His creation in a mighty way through you!! I am but one man, God’s evangelist, playing the trumpet call to rally His troops. You are the heroes! You are the ones who heard God’s call and said “Here I am Lord, send me!” Thank you for your willingness to Be the Body of Christ in Action. There is so much still to do! Won’t you contact us or ARDF today and make your investment of Time, Talent and Treasures an Eternal one?!
Your servant in Messiah Jesus,