Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:21 am
DEVASTATION BEYOND BELIEF
It appears unlikely that any of us will be able to accurately describe the horrific scenes of the Moore, Oklahoma, (USA) tornado that touched down this past Monday at approximately 3 p.m. It has been deemed by many as, “the worst scene of tornado damage in American history”. The moving scenes of first responders removing dead bodies out of the rubble and debris left by the tornado and especially the deceased children has almost been more than we can bear as a nation. The overwhelming reality for many residents of this heartland city to realize that this powerful force of nature was so great that many cannot even determine where their houses or even streets used to be. For many, everything has been lost, their homes, their family memorabilia, and for a number even their families who perished in this disaster. As General Overseer, Dr. Mark Williams stated to me by text shortly after the tragedy unfolded, “It’s horrific”.
In times like these, we not only need our Savior, we must have His help. And, this is especially true for the Division of Care. Within the realm of the Church of God, no entity departmentally or otherwise bears the burden of response any more than the Church of God Division of Care, which is the principle agency of the church for disaster response. Within the first two hours of the tornado touch down, Operation Compassion (an affiliated agency of the Division of Care) and the Church of God Chaplains Commission were establishing lines of communication, loading trucks across America and organizing Community Service Chaplaincy Teams from eight states that would be the church’s “first responders” to the nightmarish event. These champions of trial and tribulation recognize the essential need to have an immediate response in time of trouble. Too, it has become almost “second nature” to them as they have sharpened their skills throughout many moments of disaster relief. I am so grateful to Operation Compassion’s President, Dave Lorency for his support in allowing the Chaplains Commission to serve as a primary partner in times like these. And, I am eternally grateful to Dr. Jake Popejoy and our numerous teams of professional community service chaplains who not only pay their own way to aid and assist but themselves send in offerings to help those who are hurt.
Chaplains, you are the “best of the best” and I am so thankful for you, your skills and your passion. God has anointed you for “such a time as this”. May His power be with you as you reach out to those who need you most in this moment.
Donnie W. Smith, D.Min.
Somebody may be saying good things about you behind your back. My wife, Brenda, was recently speaking to a group of Protestant Women of the Chapel at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The family with whom she was staying has a daughter who is married to a soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Their daughter was home for a visit during the time Brenda was in their home.
When the conversation turned to chaplains, the daughter said, “Well, I will tell you who the best three chaplains are at Fort Campbell. They are Megan Hodge, Clayton Gregory and Daniel Isfan.” With a huge smile on her face, Brenda said, “Do you know all three of these chaplains are with my church?” To which the daughter asked, “Which church is that?” Brenda replied, “Church of God.”
Megan, Clayton and Daniel are the only Church of God Chaplains among the more than 70 assigned to Fort Campbell. The accolade they unknowingly received from this young Army wife speaks volumes about their ministry and the impact they are having every day on the lives of those they serve.
The fact that they are all Church of God, well, that just makes me swell with pride. These three are examples of the outstanding Vocational Chaplains who are representing our church with distinction across multiple organizations and institutions. Remember people are talking about you—and they are saying good things!
Richard L. Pace, D.Min.
Endorser and Coordinator, Vocational Chaplaincy Ministries
Community Service Chaplaincy News
We have a heavy heart at the Community Service Section of the Chaplains Commission this morning. So far (at the time of this writing) the news media is reporting over 20 people who have lost their lives and 145 injured, as a result of the disaster in Oklahoma. Many of the dead and injured are children. The Chaplains Commission and The International Association of Community Service Chaplains is part of the relief response being sent to this terrible and disastrous event. Disaster Chaplain Steve Wallace has been tirelessly recruiting disaster chaplains, counselors and humanitarian aid chaplains to respond with him to Oklahoma. Following is a short report from Chaplain Angel Villezcas, who immediately sprang into action upon learning of the devastation in Oklahoma.
“Thank you so much for taking us into consideration of this great need in Oklahoma. A team of 10 chaplains including myself left yesterday morning to Moore and we provide certain goods that were much needed and required. Our help was well accepted by those in the afflicted area and they asked us to help the people that were in shelters. At the end of the night, we were rejoicing because we were able to help during such a big disaster. We were also told us that after Thursday they would need people to go to the affected areas to help on debris removal and cleanup, so on Friday we will have a bigger team to assist in the cleanup and collection of food and water for our Moore neighbors. Please know that we are at disposition of the Chaplains Commission, God bless you.” Chaplain Angel Villezcas
NOTE of THANKS: Many of you are already offering your assistance in manpower and finance. We are extremely grateful for your spirit of volunteerism. Please keep the victims and responders in your prayers.
PLEASE NOTE: These are the final days to make your plans to attend the Level III CSC seminar in Cleveland, Tennessee. Make your reservation to attend this class May 29th – 31st, 2013, in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Reports from the Field
Community Service Chaplain Harry Long, Ealey, South Carolina, reports: Prayer and Needs: “PCDOC Correctional facility, both residents (inmates) and staff. A personal prayer request for me that God continues to give a physical healing. For past two years my health has declined to the point of my having to step down from ministry and lost ability to walk. January, this year, the Lord has given my ability to walk back and my health is recovering at a miraculous rate. I am out of the wheelchair and walking once again. Praise God and ALL Glory to Him.” Significant Activities: “Our Prison Ministry has been going into the PCDOC in Pickens County, South Carolina, for two weeks now. On May 16th, ten (10) residents received Christ for the first time and another eight (8) rededicated their life.” Thank you, Chaplain Long, for your ministry and the many hours of volunteer service that you give every month.
Community Service and CERT Chaplains Stephen and Nancy Bailey, Pensacola, Florida, report: Significant Activities: “Completed eight Readiness Living Workshops and four tutoring classes. Received invitation to begin classes at Kingsway Church in Pensacola from Pastor Rick Curry. Dates are to be determined.” Praise the Lord, Steve and Nancy! That is fantastic news with 98 hours of community service this month. Wow!
Community Service Chaplain Alejandro Ramirez, Fall River, Massachusetts, reports: Significant Activities: “By God’s Grace, I am going outside of the gate into the streets of my city on the most troublesome nights of the week with the Word of God and with assistance. God has used me to foil several criminal attempts, to stop a stabbing from occurring and most of all to speak a message of Salvation at probably the time in the City which needs it the most and receives it the least. Also, we have been visiting with people that have requested prayer and intervention/referral for relatives in cases of mental illness and suicide attempts. To God be the Glory! Twenty-two hours of volunteer service this month.”
ATTENTION ALL COMMUNITY SERVICE CHAPLAINS
As of June 1st, the Chaplains Commission (Community Service Section) will be officially rebranding to The International Association of Community Service Chaplains, Inc., (TIACSC). Our ministry outreach will grow and enrich as well as giving us the opportunity to partner with more chaplains around the world. We will remain strongly attached to the Church of God Chaplains Commission, and our tenets of faith and mission will remain unbroken. Our rebranding is in prayerful consideration of many community service chaplains of other denominations who wish to be actively involved in our training and ministry outreaches.
Dr. Jake Popejoy
Coordinator, Training and Community Service Chaplains