On October 10, 2018, the nation prayed as Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle. It came to shore as a Category 4 Hurricane, and its destructive high winds, heavy rains and extreme storm surge paved a path of destruction beginning with the Florida Panhandle then moving through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. It also took the lives of 18 individuals.
Search and rescue teams are still having a difficult time reaching some areas in and around Mexico Beach, the hardest hit location, due to the immense damage. Michael marks the first time a category 4 Storm has made landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast. The scope of the storm’s damage is unreal, especially in Mexico Beach.
“Everybody we knew lost their house—everybody—and their jobs,” a local resident said.
“The devastation—it’s like a bomb just went off here,” another resident added.
Unfortunately, churches are but bricks and mortar as well, and as such they took a hit right along with the rest of the communities in which they serve. This is particularly problematic, though, as often churches are the haven within afflicted areas. Thankfully, even with the damage they experienced to their own buildings and places of worship, many congregations are still serving as the hands and feet of Christ during this trying time. For example, churches in nearby Panama City are rallying their forces to serve their own community and to reach out to the residents of Mexico Beach who have lost so much.
Destiny Worship Center is one such congregation giving back. Even though the side of their kids’ building is gone thanks to the storm, they are still collecting and delivering basic necessities to those in need. Panama City Beach campus pastor Wayne Asprodites recalled the rebuilding effort.
“Really we’re beginning to communicate to take supplies here on the beach level and bring them over to Panama City and Springfield and Callaway, where churches there were really destroyed, major damage, and allow them to be collection points for the supplies that people are giving us and distribute to the people in need,” he said.
Lighthouse Church is also giving back. They took a direct hit as well as the eye of the storm came right through the area.
“We have seven teams out with chainsaws and front end loaders, we’re moving trees and making sure that everybody is accounted for, and that they can get out and they can get the aid that they need,” Pastor Cole Bailey said.
Pastor Cole explains why he feels this community outreach is a tangible way his congregation in particular, and all believers in general can serve God and be the hands and feet of Christ.
“I can tell you that I love you all day long, or I can show you that I love you,” he added. “So our neighbors, if they’ve ever wondered if we love them, they’re about to find out for sure.”
The fact that these churches, even though they themselves experienced loss in the storm, are still making efforts to give back to their communities is commendable. Believers should examine their own lives and seek to show the love of Christ through actions — not words alone. In this way, believers can live out their faith in an actionable way and make lasting changes in their communities through practical service.
The following is an excerpt written by St. Teresa of Avila that beautifully explains the way in which believers serve as the hands and feet of Christ to others:
“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
~ 1776 Christian