As Dave Ricks, a member of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Arlington, and the congregation’s Disaster Care committee, checked on congregants the day after the powerful April 3 tornadoes in North Texas, he came across a man sitting on the curb, his head in his hands, crying.
The man, Ron, told Ricks how he and his child rode out the twister in a closet. They emerged to discover that the entire second floor of their home was gone.
“I prayed with him and we talked for about 30 more minutes,” Ricks said in an email to LCMS Texas District and LCMS Disaster Response leaders.
Later, Ron returned to where Ricks was helping with storm cleanup, bringing along a family whose home also was severely damaged. Ron introduced Ricks as “the man who prayed for me and my family” and asked the Beautiful Savior member to pray for his friends.
“This happened two more times, and I noticed [that] each time Ron was smiling a little more,” Ricks said in the email.
Listening to stories about devastating losses and praying with families are among the ways Beautiful Savior members used their LCMS congregational disaster-response training to help with recovery from the powerful tornado outbreak that destroyed more than 350 homes and damaged some 1,000 more, according to news reports.
At least eight LCMS member families in the Arlington area are among those with tornado damage, according to Ricks, who assisted Beautiful Savior’s pastor, the Rev. Brian Cummins, in contacting LCMS congregations in hard-hit communities.
“None of [the affected LCMS families] appear to have any severe damage and all are doing well. We have provided short-term help to several of them,” Ricks said in the email to the Rev. Steven Misch, Texas District disaster-response coordinator, and the Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of LCMS’ disaster response ministry.
Beautiful Savior and Grace Lutheran Church, also in Arlington, collected offerings throughout Holy Week to assist families with tornado damage. The LCMS Texas District provided $1,000 for gift cards that were distributed to families at a Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster recovery center in Arlington.
Beautiful Savior Disaster Care committee members helped set up, staff the center and distribute the gift cards.
“With our gift cards [from the Texas District], we were the only organization present who could help with immediate needs like food, gas and baby supplies. We also provided cleanup buckets, devotional materials and Bibles to everyone who wanted one,” Ricks said in the email, referring to cleanup buckets provided in conjunction with an LCMS disaster-response project.
Ricks said he and fellow Lutherans offered to pray with everyone “who came to our table, and everyone asked us to.”
“The tornado recovery center was relatively slow, but that was a good thing because it gave us time to listen to everyone’s stories,” Ricks said.
Four days after the tornadoes, the Arlington fire marshal, speaking at a press conference, called the Lutherans very helpful, Ricks said.
Today, Merritt calls Beautiful Savior’s disaster response “an excellent example of what it means to be and share the presence of Christ following a disaster.”
“Such interaction rarely, if ever, occurs in an agency response. But the church, well, that is a different matter entirely,” said Merritt, who has led disaster-response training that congregations, including Beautiful Savior, have participated in throughout the Synod. “This is why the LCMS is so active in promoting congregation-based disaster response, where a local congregation and its members are prepared to step up to the plate and be the very presence of Christ for those hurting after a disaster.”
To learn more about LCMS congregation-based disaster response training, visit http://mercyforever.lcms.org/ or contact the Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, manager, LCMS’ disaster response ministry, at email@example.com or (314) 996-1638
To support the Synod’s disaster-response program:
- make an online gift at http://lcms.org/disasterfund.
- mail checks (noting “General Disaster Response Fund” in the memo line) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
Donations received for general disaster-relief efforts will be wisely used to support LCMS disaster-response and relief efforts where the greatest need is as determined by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Your gift is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.