The past three weeks I spent several afternoons volunteering in a church office that had been turned in a Disaster Relief Room. There was some chaos the first couple of days as the Shelter personnel learned their new responsibilities. After hurriedly learning the multi-phone system, I spent much time answering questions and getting calls to the correct person.
Between phone calls, I made calls to the enormous list of names of those who had gone through Red Cross training a few days before.
My family, the church we attend, and thousands from the small city we call home had turned out en masse volunteering their services to help make the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina comfortable. We fed them three meals a day and furnished them comfortable beds.
The transportation committee spent hours driving them to the doctor, Social Security office and County Health Office, bank, post office and other places they needed to go. A team of nurses and doctors stayed 24 hours a day at the shelter to care for their medical needs. For protection, local policemen took 8 hour shifts around the clock.
We were all a team determined to show God’s love through simple acts of kindness freely given to our new neighbors.
One afternoon a call came in from a couple who had planned to help serve the evening meal. An emergency would prevent their being able to come. My husband was out of town and I didn’t have to fix supper at my house that night. So I volunteered to go down to the kitchen immediately after the office I was working in closed for the day.
Degenerate back problems would not allow me to stand on the concrete floor for very long. But in the short time I was there helping prepare the meal a lovely lady came to the counter.
“May I have a sandwich?” She asked.
Talking further with her I discovered she had been gone at lunchtime and was now hungry. Joyfully, I opened the huge refrigerator and brought out the turkey and cheese. It was such a small chore to make the sandwich and give it to her. Little did I know the impact that tiny act of kindness would have on me a few hours later.
The next morning I opened up our local paper and there on the front page was a picture and story of the sweet lady I had made and served the sandwich to. She told of the horror she had gone through escaping from the hurricane a few days earlier. The two jobs she had previously worked were now completely ravaged by the storm. She was homeless and helpless, completely at the mercy of those who were providing her needs at our shelter.
As I sat there and read her story, I heard loud and clear in my spirit, “When you have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
What a revelation! It was only a sandwich furnished by other volunteers but God spoke directly to me as I stared at the face in front of me.
I knew there was rejoicing in heaven as God looked down upon the thousands and thousands of volunteers across our nation feeding, giving money, clothing and sharing hospitality to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. So many people were serving and loving wherever they were needed.
These acts of mercy did not depend on our wealth, ability or intelligence. They were simple acts of kindness freely given.
During this national tragedy known as Hurricane Katrina that has hit our nation, I pray that we have all glorified our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by reflecting our love for Him through a simple sandwich, a cold drink or a much needed hug.
Melva Cooper Melva@melvacooper.com
Melva Cooper is a grandmother from Jonesboro, Arkansas. She encourages many, both in print and on the Internet, with stories from her heart. Her two most recent published projects can be found in “Chicken Soup Celebrates Grandmothers” and “Soul Matters for the Heart.” Her most recent 2TheHeart stories are “Peace and Joy” and “Beautiful Scars”, found in our archives: http://www.2theheart.com/stories_2005 More of Melva’s writng is also found on her beautiful web site: www.melvacooper.com