As the long awaited chill greeting us in the mornings this week reminds us how seasons change, I am reminded of how God leads us through seasons in life. Some seem happy-go-lucky and pain free. Others, we brace ourselves, fix our eyes and hearts on Him and His promises and keep walking faithfully through trying times. As life slowly returns to normal in the immediate Wilmington area post Hurricane Florence, a short drive out of town brings the chilling reminder that many people are caught in the midst of the darkest days of their lives. Times such as these remind us what the Church is for, why we exist.
Why Does Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church Exist?
We are here to Glorify God, Edify the Saints and Evangelize the World. Leadership of WBBC has summarized this to say that we are a church which worships God, loves people and makes disciples. While some of this can and often does take place in a common meeting space such as 601 Causeway Drive, we are called to live it out in the world. Our vision has taken wings since day one of this life-changing event. “Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church will be a place where lives are changed by Jesus Christ. This will be a place where people who are far from God become part of the family of God through the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.”
An event such as Hurricane Florence has the ability to paralyze us or propel us. Through my participation as a Blue Hat Team Leader with North Carolina Baptists on Mission since Hurricane Katrina, I have had the opportunity to witness each extreme. Some survivors have not even begun to remove items from their homes five weeks out from the event. Others had the home clear on day three. A strong parallel can be made between a person’s home and his spiritual life. Many times the issues which hold one captive are much greater than one’s ability to overcome those issues. That’s where the power of Christ comes in. Just as we bring hope to a paralyzed family as a van load of volunteers pulls up to the house five weeks after a flood event, Christ brings hope and the power to overcome addiction, abuse, neglect, abandonment and the many other affects of lostness.
Why do we help those who will never set foot into our church facility? Because the CHURCH is far greater than the church facility located at 601 Causeway Drive in Wrightsville Beach. I find it so fitting that God removed our body from our usual place of meeting for four Sundays. During that time, while many of our regular attendees were still with family or traveling outside of the area affected by the hurricane, others were hard at work serving the community God has sent us to. As the storm still hovered over our area on Saturday morning, faithful servants met and headed out to address the needs of those who reached out to the church for help. Imagine that, the Church became the immediate source of provision and restoration people sought in the wake a storm in their life. Isn’t that just what God calls us to do and to be?
As the weeks unfolded, our response moved from triage to provision and finally to partnership. We spent the first week clearing roads and making homes accessible, clearing trees from roofs and tarping gaping holes in roofs. In our first week God allowed Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church to answer 40 cries for help and countless prayers lifted up over the phone via the hotline manned by our staff.
In our second and third weeks we transitioned to feeding and serving the masses. A church to church partnership quickly developed which provided the means to serve 4000 meals and deliver 20 pallets of water, two and a half pallets of diapers and countless hygiene kits and supplies provided by churches across the country.
In our fourth week we transitioned yet again to address the needs of churches affected by the flood. We were able to completely mudout Bethlehem Baptist Church located in Currie, NC on Saturday, October 13, On Monday we teemed up with our Baltimore Church Partner, Christian Liberty, to reach into the Whitestocking community of Burgaw. Ground Zero for the worst flooding experienced in the region, Sand Hill AME Church had become a hub for relief and a source of hope for the community. However, their facility had not been touched in the five weeks since the storm made landfall. We began the recovery process with others from the community and over a three day period, served food to the community and mudded out about 75% of the facility.
We now prepare for our long term response to the storm and God is equipping WBBC to become a source of hope and provision for the entire region. While we may join hands with another partner church and NC Baptists on Mission in the rebuilding of a home, one of the most significant developments is a financial partnership with Johnson Ferry Baptist Church of Marietta, GA and several other churches and individuals from across the country to provide grants for families to replace flooded appliances. Our hope is to bless as many families as possible with this tangible expression of the love of Christ. While meeting a physical need to provide meals for one’s family or laundering the clothing which will keep that family warm through many winters to come, we hope to place a physical reminder in each home of God’s provision and Love.
Why does the Church exist? For such a time as this! “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.‘” Matthew 25:35-36
Serving with you,