Friday, February 8, 2008

Hope Force


I have been blessed by being sponsored (by a family from my church) to attend the hope force training which starts this weekend.

My past has been made up of several opportunities to work within "disaster's" of every kind; whether it's with my work as an EMT, or my work with TIP (Trauma Intervention Program: http://www.tipnational.org).

But within both of these experiences, I was never able to bring the the gospel to these people in need (because I wasn't allowed to). This caused pain in my heart throughout many situations, and because of this reason (and my move to Biola), I gradually left both my job in the medical field, and TIP.

But now there is hope through hopeforce! I am so excited for what I will learn in my training, but more excited for when the time comes for me to be used in this area of comforting people in disaster situations.

To learn more about hopeforce, you can visit their website at:
http://www.hopeforce.org/

Here I gave you an email I received today from the VP of hopeforce. They have been called to help after the deadly tornado in Tennessee. Read more here if you like:

February 8, 2008: We are grateful to all who have emailed and called to check on our safety, and to volunteer their services in response to the deadly tornado outbreak on Super Tuesday evening. We want to give you an update on the situation here in our own backyard. The horror of Tuesday night represents the worst natural disaster in Tennessee ’s history since the 1930’s. As of this weekend, Hope Force International will have deployed a total of almost 30 people – working 12 – 14 hour days in Macon County , Tennessee – the area with the greatest devastation.

What we have witnessed will forever be burned into our memories. In this northern Tennessee county, there are two staging areas for response workers, and in both areas, there has been loss of life. However, the second area on Akersville Road– where President Bush toured today– is beyond description. When we were waved through security and approached the disaster area, all we could do was gasp. There is no structure left standing, most foundations have been ripped up… and even the grass has been totally stripped away in many areas.

To help you understand the magnitude of the devastation, the press has not been permitted to enter into this area until the President’s arrival today, and it is highly barricaded from any outside traffic. Only the residents and emergency responders are allowed in, along with The Salvation Army and Hope Force volunteers and staff. Jack Minton (HFI Founder and President) and our Hope Force team, along with our Salvation Army partners, were privileged to spend time with President Bush as he expressed his gratefulness to each of our Hope Force Reservists, spending several minutes with them. Tennessee Governor Bredesen told Jack that the need will increase for our help in the weeks ahead as others begin to leave the area.

The search and rescue tent and other emergency responders have set up their staging area where The Salvation Army mobile feeding unit is located. This is where our team has served both the community families and emergency responders non-stop – through offering meals, hydration and emotional and spiritual support. Without any exaggeration, we probably saw 30 – 40 search and rescue personnel with dogs, combing the totally decimated area. At the present time, there are approximately 250 people unaccounted for, and it is still not known who are simply finding shelter in other places, and who are deceased.

Throughout the neighborhood, the survivors are very somber as they quietly pick through the rubble, hoping to find some small token of their past lives. However, there are moments of joy as well. One woman rejoiced that a small snapshot of her wedding day was found… and that her wedding rings were miraculously uncovered after she had asked God to help her find them. A grown daughter was excited to find a picture of herself as a little girl in her Halloween garb as she combed through the rubble of her parent’s home. Her parents miraculously survived in their basement… even though there was absolutely nothing left standing.

Our Hope Force teams and Salvation Army staff are offering emotional and spiritual care to both the community and to the first responders. They have been prepared for this very kind of event, and they are rising to the occasion with an amazing sensitivity… giving meaningful and appropriate care. What we have found over these past few days is the eager and warm response to a listening ear. People not only want to tell their story... they need to tell their story, and most do so readily -- often with tearful hugs. Two emergency responders confided that this was their community; one had lost his church, and one had lost his fishing buddy. These men had only been able to grab 10 hours of sleep since Monday, but have continued to serve heroically. The pain in their eyes was evident as they shared their personal sorrow… mingled with expressions of deep gratitude for our presence there.

This has been a poignant reminder of “why we do what we do.” The passion to train and deploy people to minister appropriately in times of disaster… to bring the compassionate love of Jesus to those who have suffered so desperately, has gained new momentum in all of our hearts.

No comments: