An EF5 “grinder” tornado hit downtown Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 5:41 pm. In a matter of minutes, one-third of the town was destroyed. Hundreds of lives were lost. Homes, schools, businesses and one of two hospitals were ripped apart in seconds by swirling winds and debris.
Then it rained for two days.
Then the cavalry arrived — a really big cavalry.
A caravan of angels in steel-toed boots and N95 respirator masks armed with orange Home Depot waste buckets, shovels and lots of lots of compassion descended upon Joplin within hours of the tornado. Most had no formal invitation.
Relief workers drove hundreds of miles to clear roadways of debris and slept in tents or in their vehicles in the 100-plus degree mid-west summer heat. Donated supplies arrived by the semi-truckload, and local churches opened their doors to house volunteers from all over the country and to distribute essentials such as hygiene kits, clean clothing and bottled water.
To date, 72,000 registered volunteers have travelled to Joplin to help. An estimated 356,000 volunteer hours have been logged by the City of Joplin, roughly 41 years worth of time. The young and old, rich and poor, retired and not abandoned the routines of their lives to join the relief effort to do what they are able to do.
It’s clear that when the Great Project Manager in the Sky mobilizes His troops, no task is ever forgotten. He’s planned every detail:
These people will send resources.
These people will volunteer their trucks, bulldozers, and wheelbarrows.
These people will donate food, clothing, towels and toothpaste.
These people will pick up trash.
These people will hand out water.
These people will bake comfort food.
These people will coordinate, manage, and plan.
These people will open up their homes.
These people will open up their wallets.
These people will wield chainsaws.
These people will wield hammers.
These people will wield kind words.
These people will sing.
These people will listen.
These people will donate medical care, therapy and medicines.
These people will administer tetanus shots.
These people will administer hugs.
These people will pray.
And when the dust clears, the rain stops, and the sun shines brightly again…He knows we will do all of the above. He has faith in us to take care of each other.
Never forget that, in the Kingdom of Heaven, nobody is ever alone. And after the storm, you had better stand up and get ready — help is coming whether you ask for it or not.
Trust God. He can fix anything.