Written by: Dodi, Disaster Response Team Member in News and Inspiration on May 7, 2012
I love the theme song to the broadway show "Rent" ... "How Do You Measure a Year?"
An extremely large and violent tornado outbreak occurred from April 25 to 28, 2011. The outbreak affected the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama. April 27 was the deadliest tornado day in the United States since the 1925 "Tri-State" outbreak.
This day was to become personal to the community of Northland Church, hundreds of miles away and unaware of the devastation taking place on that day. I heard the news, saw the footage, but it didn't become personal until I got the call from Northland's Disaster Response Team that we were being deployed to bring our food truck to Pleasant Grove, Alabama, a quiet town of about 10,000 people, located 50 miles from Tuscaloosa and 15 miles from Birmingham. It's the typical small town USA that I only have impressions of from old TV programs.
Next thing I know, I was riding in an RV pulled by the food truck in convoy with the command center trailer with the advance set-up team. Our mission: To establish a place to feed thousands of people, to offer real help to the local people of Pleasant Grove and surrounding communities and to set up a command post, attempting to bring organization into chaos. Of course, Northland's ever-present mission is to bring spiritual comfort and support to everyone through the love of Jesus Christ—the people of Pleasant Grove, the first responders, the relief workers, fellow Christian called to serve, and even our own team members, friends and families.
Fast forward one year later ... April 27, 2012, my friend Kathy and I set out in the quiet morning hours. There were no media trucks following us, no identification on my car driving down the interstate receiving honks and cheers as we made the 10-hour trek to Pleasant Grove. Gone were the convoys of power trucks and caravans of relief workers. It was just Kathy and me. Our mission? To bring spiritual comfort and support to everyone through the love of Jesus Christ. This time though, we had names and faces. There would be the Owens family, Kathy and the kitchen ladies, David the maintenance man who lost his house yet was at the church every moment with his twin girls, the man we identified as "Brad Pitt" because he was so gorgeous to everyone he met, bringing food, water and prayers to the community and the congregants of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. The excitement we felt was just as great as the last time, as we looked forward to reconnecting with our friends—our new families—in both sad memories and joyous celebration.
How do you measure a year? A year ago we thought we were going to Alabama to help out some strangers. A year later, we knew we were going to get loved upon by our friends and family in Pleasant Grove. How gracious is our all-powerful and sovereign Father for allowing us to participate in the joys and sorrows of being in fellowship through His Spirit. A year ago a tornado hit Pleasant Grove Alabama. Today, He allows us to experience the goodness of His grace. May God bless and keep us all.
Dodi, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ