While Somebody Cares International is still providing emergency response to people pummeled by Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Sally is hitting the same coastal region of Louisiana and Florida. Cellphones and computers are abuzz, connecting the staff and volunteers of the Houston, Texas-based nonprofit with local churches and organizations that are ready to help.
There's no time to waste. People are in distress.
"It's the heart of God," said Doug Stringer, founder of Somebody Cares, which has grown into its international reach. "When you're able to go and be the heart of Jesus, it touches the hearts of people to receive the gospel message. Instead of seeing divisiveness, you see everyone working as neighbors, and you see the church of America engaged. That's the real church in America."
In Sulfur, Louisiana, for example, the parking lot at Celebration Worship Center has been turned into a drive-thru restaurant of sorts. A cross-section of people from Somebody Cares, local churches and the community are preparing and handing out meals for the seemingly endless line of cars moving through. By Tuesday night, 18,500 hot meals had been served.
Volunteers offer to pray with people as worship music broadcasts over speakers, setting the tone.
It's a physical, emotional and spiritual outreach.
One of the volunteers in Sulfur, Louisiana today is Celebration Pastor Donnie Crane. Even though the roof on his adjacent parsonage was damaged and tarps were the best he could do at protecting his home, he opened the church to the community—leading local volunteers alongside Somebody Cares. Even worse, the parsonage burned to the ground after a fire started under the tarp.
Regardless, Crane continues serving food and loving people. (Watch a brief video featuring Stringer sharing scenes from Sulfur as well as Crane's pastoral heart at this link.)
"When people ask him what they can do for him, he just asks them to keep helping his community," Stringer said.
Stringer and Crane have met with Sulfur's mayor and prayed with him. People keep returning to the church, saying they appreciate the friendly faces and lingering for a cup of coffee.
"There is an atmosphere of God's presence there," Stringer added during a telephone interview between conference calls about multiple ongoing disaster relief projects. "God's organic church is still the greatest asset to any community. In every crisis, when we make ourselves available, God always multiplies what little we have into far more resources than we could ever get on our own."
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