Many people are aware that 11 trillion gallons of water fell in the Carolinas over the past week with devastating effect. The flooding has resulted in a tragic loss of life and property. Dr. Derek Thomas is senior minister at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC and is a frequent conference speaker and author for Ligonier. He wrote the following update for the church where he serves and we’ve adapted it here with his permission.
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side…
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone cover us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.” (Psa. 124:2, 4-5)
We have been cast upon the Lord’s mercy and our church family will find it difficult to read verses like these (from Psalm 124) without the fearful memory of Sunday, October 4, 2015. In the darkness of a Sunday morning, the “raging waters” threatened to engulf them, and though their lives were spared, their belongings were not.
Our beautiful city has been ravaged, more than a dozen lives have been lost and thousands have been displaced and ruined; and as I write, further threats are in view. Our church family has been at the center of the storm, with approximately a hundred homes having sustained damage of some kind, and half of these sustaining such serious damage that they may end up losing their homes entirely. There are families who have lost everything, leaving their homes in the darkness of a Sunday morning, in boats with only the clothes they were wearing. There are stories of heroism of the noblest kind involving some of our members who ventured out to save lives, risking their own for the sake of others.
Our hearts go out to everyone – our church family and the wider community – who have suffered in the flood waters that engulfed parts of our city. We are eager to help in whatever way we can. On Monday, the church organized a Storm Relief Center which marshaled some 300 men and women to help in the cleanup. As I write, over a hundred homes have been helped in some way. The scenes were heart-breaking and the financial implications overwhelming. I am deeply proud of the work these folk did on behalf of others.
There are immediate and long-term needs. Monetary gifts should be made to “The Deacons Fund.” I have received notification from churches as far away as Jackson, Mississippi, Medford, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island that they have sent us financial help. It is very touching to see the immediate love of the body of Christ in this way.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm. (Cowper)
I have been thinking this week, as I walked through ruined homes, that there was a deep-seated reason why I felt led to start a series of sermons on Job in September. For here is a couple, Job and his wife, who knows what it is to lose everything and still be able to say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
I am deeply grateful for the love our church has demonstrated this week. We will have opportunities to do more in the coming months and our deacons will be in the vanguard of these ministries.
Support for the church’s relief fund will directly assist those affected. If you would like to give, click here, select General Fund, and add “The Deacons Fund” in the comments field.