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Snow, shelter, and ‘renewed’ gospel perspective

"Snow, shelter, and ‘renewed’ gospel perspective" Continued...

When morning dawned the next day, sunny, clear, but still below freezing, motorists found themselves just as stuck as the night before. Redeemer member John Camp, 27, and his wife Alex, 25, walked half a mile to pick up a woman and her 5-year-old daughter, friends of friends, who had spent the night in their car  near the Camp’s one-bedroom apartment. “We ended up having a lot in common with them, but we didn’t know that at the time,” John said.

For those who opened their homes or their churches, the storm offered an opportunity to grow, especially for suburban congregations not used to stepping out of their comfort zones. In Birmingham, one Covenant member remarked with amazement how many people bunking down in the church were strangers. Ministering to people they didn’t know helped church members reconnect with Christ’s command to love others. “It’s truly engaging to see people use their gifts that way,” Boyd said. “It’s kind of a recalibration in a lot of ways for the body of Christ.”

The storm helped Alex Camp rethink the hospitality potential of her one-bedroom apartment: “Yeah, they slept on the floor and on our couch [Wednesday night]. But it was better than the restaurant or their car, and they were so thankful for it. It’s been a good reminder to myself that we can serve the Lord now with what we have … and we don’t have to wait until we’re 30 or 40 or have a three-bedroom house.”

And churches weren’t the only places Christians reached out to offer help during the storm. When stranded workers at a Birmingham Chick-fil-A returned to work, they handed out free sandwiches on highways and kept registers closed while cooking breakfast the next day. Chick-fil-A is often criticized for voicing its owners’ Christian values. But franchise operator Mark Meadows and his Birmingham team lived those values, and people made the connection

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal took responsibility Thursday for the problems in Atlanta. And Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, lamented that he didn’t respond to forecasts until it was too late. “I made a terrible error in judgment,” he said.

But through the opportunities government and forecasting mistakes provided, Christians in Atlanta and Birmingham learned a valuable lesson. “It makes you ask, re-ask questions: Alright, what’s the purpose of having a building if you’re a church? Why do you have a kitchen?” Boyd said. The unexpected service opportunity reminded the congregation that people don’t just have needs during so-called disasters.

“There’s an opportunity for repentance in certain areas and to exercise greater faith as well,” Boyd said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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