By Sharon Mager
This year has been an unusually active year for Maryland/Delaware Disaster Relief volunteers, who ministered in the aftermath of tornadoes and floods affecting friends, neighbors and churches in Howard County, Md., and West Virginia.
ON JULY 30, A HISTORIC FLASH FLOOD TURNED ELLICOTT CITY’S MAIN STREET INTO A RAGING RIVER. God had Metanoia Church strategically positioned to help pick up the pieces and minister to hurting residents and business owners.
It all began with a prayer meeting at Catonsville Baptist Church where members of Metanoia Church, Bethel Church and others from the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network gathered.
Adam Feldman, Metanoia’s pastor, and Jesse Florida, part-time co-pastor, immediately went to work organizing volunteers and meeting with local community leaders. Amazingly, Florida was already serving as the Ellicott City Partnership’s (ECP) volunteer coordinator, in a strategic effort to build a relationship with the community.
Within two days after the flood, the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network gave Metanoia a grant to add ten hours each week for Florida to expand his efforts for six months with the ECP, Metanoia Church and the broader county-wide recovery efforts. Florida has also been involved with county officials to coordinate SBC disaster relief and country relief efforts.
Metanoia Church is praising God that He led them to move out of the building they were renting on Main Street just a month before the flood.
“We had gone through time paring down our own space for a few years. We now have a virtual office. We were listening to God on that,” Feldman said. It was God’s timing. “Because of that, we were immediately able to get down there and help other people,” he said.
Florida said, “I prayed, ‘Let the spirit of revival fall on Main Street, then ‘Let the Spirit of God fall on Metanoia.’” One thing I didn’t pray for but wound up getting is, ‘Let this be a revival to me.”
Recently, Feldman was appointed to the #ECStrong Recovery Fund Committee by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. The committee makes recommendations to the ECP and United Way on how short term relief funds should be spent to facilitate recovery. Feldman also meets with county officials as a representative for faith-based and other non-profit organizations about long-term recovery efforts.
Metanoia immediately used their website to raise funds and mobilize volunteers. Thousands of people volunteered to serve or they gave to help.
Feldman and Florida said Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Church Strengthening and Community Engagement Specialist Ellen Udovich was incredibly helpful, providing needed disaster relief guidance and encouragement, and her taking the time to actually being in the flooded area shoveling out mud with the rest of the helpers.
Bethany Lane Baptist Church ministered to a family with a 16-year-old girl whose bedroom was ruined.
“It was wiped out,” said Bethany Youth Pastor Dennis Allen. “We worked with the mom and came up with a list of things the girl lost,” Allen said. They began with immediate needs—clothing, a bed, dresser, and school supplies before working on other needs.
They also helped an elderly Egyptian woman living alone. Here two-car garage she was using for storage was ruined. “For three consecutive days we filled three 30 cubic yard dumpsters,” Allen said. “There was so much emotion. We had to throw away tons of stuff. We sat down with her, showing her we care and helping her get through this. We’ve really got a good relationship with her now. She calls, and we check in on her. She’s visited the church in the past and said when she’s settled down she plans to come back.
The ministry opportunity blessed the church, Allen said. They wanted to help in a hands-on way, and minster and love their community.
Manna Ministries Community Development Corporation, affiliated with Kettering Baptist Church, donated 36 backpacks to Bethel Baptist Church. Bethel Church provided the backpacks with school supplies to students impacted by the flood. The church is also partnering with the school to collect other needed supplies for flood victims.
Jessica Senasack, Baptist Student Ministry campus minister at University of Maryland, College Park, texted Brian Zeug, a junior at the college and a member of Alethia Church, College Park. Zeug contacted Daniel Medina, who recently graduated from the college and is a member of First Baptist Church, Laurel. Both young men jumped right in to help.
Bryan Zeug and Daniel Medina donned full body suits, aspirators and gloves and cleaned out damaged basements, shoveling mud, pumping out water and throwing away moldy, ruined belongings. There wasn’t a lot of room in the basement, so another crew was outside helping to sort and throw the unsalvageable material into the dumpster.
Zeug remembers Hurricane Sandy that hit his hometown in New Jersey several years ago. “I saw the clean up there and how much it helped the community,” Zeug said.
The work also blessed the young helpers. “Fellowshipping and working with other believers was huge. It encouraged me, “Zeug said. “It’s helpful for me to take myself out of the mentality of being selfish, and wanting to do something purely to help another. It’s a good reminder of what Christ did for us,” he said.
To volunteer, or for more information on how to help, visit http://metanoiachurch.org/ellicott-city-flood-disaster-relief.
Howard County tornado
A tornado with 80 mile per hour winds 13 miles long, 500 yards wide hit portions of Howard County early in the afternoon on June 21. It lasted 20 minutes and it toppled trees and power lines in its path.
“The tornado was strange – it wasn’t going on a clear path and it did a lot of damage,” Brian Corrick, pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church said. Eighteen 30-year-old pine trees were uprooted at the back of the church property.
The church acted as a staging area for Maryland/Delaware disaster relief, who helped their neighbors with the damage.
“We were able to identify people who had genuine needs, beyond their means,” Corrick said. Fortunately, the church has contractors in their congregation who were able to donate equipment. The church worked with the county to get permission to use their landfill and they went to work.
Two neighbors had about 40 large trees come down between them, Corrick said. Church members worked to help the neighbors, and to encourage and pray with them.
“We’ve made some good connections with people we would not have otherwise,” Corrick said.
West Virginia floods
Pastor Kerry Hinton of Lynnhaven Baptist Church in Pocomoke, Md., served with seven members of the church and another SBDR volunteer from Virginia on a two-day tear-out for Rainelle homeowner Gail McKinney.
McKinney’s home took on four feet of floodwater. The team helped remove mud and debris from the home while helping the 72-year-old sort through her water-soaked belongings.
“Volunteers worked with wonderful compassionate hearts, letting ler tell her story and start the healing process,” Hinton said.
“A lot of people say that our town is going to be like a ghost town with so many moving out,” McKinney said. “We like our town and I hope it gets back on its feet.”
Laura Sykes of the North American Mission Board contributed to this story.