Editor's Note: Caleb Yarbrough, media specialist for the Arkansas Baptist News, is working alongside Arkansas Baptist volunteers serving in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is blogging his experiences as the team travels to the Empire State to help those in need.
DEER PARK, N.Y. – Today was our first work day. We rose early and were working at our "feeding" site by 4:30 a.m. By the end of the day our team had prepared 18,500 meals.
Our work site was the large parking lot of a local park, nestled in between a roller hockey rink and basketball courts.
Veteran volunteers commented that this project was the largest that they had been a part of – and I believe it – though this is my first experience with disaster relief.
We had two full kitchens working all day, one of which is from Arkansas and the other from New York. We also had volunteers working alongside us from Kansas/Nebraska and Mississippi.
I spent the majority of the day working at the power washing station with others from Arkansas and a few from the Kansas/Nebraska group. Most of my time was spent helping clean cambros (insulated plastic containers used to carry and keep food hot during transportation) and pans from the kitchens.
At one point during the day a volunteer from a New York group pulled me aside. They asked for my help with moving cambros full of food to pallets so they could be forklifted and placed in Red Cross vehicles to be transported to the people we were feeding.
As I helped the man move the cambros, we began to talk. His name was Jack and in a thick New York accent he said that he lived about 20 miles from where we are working. Jack said that by the grace of God his home and family were spared by Sandy – but he felt compelled to help those that were – especially considering the storm hit so close to home.
As I spoke with Jack periodically throughout the rest of the day when he would track me down to help move the cambros, I was struck by the absolute pervasiveness of Christ.
Jack, for all practical purposes, is from a different world than myself. He was born and raised in New York and grew up Catholic. He commutes an hour and 15 minutes each way to and from Manhattan for work each day and didn't become a believer until adulthood.
However, I felt a connection to Jack. The more I spoke to him the more I felt that regardless of our separate ways of talking or geographical alignments we were truly brothers in Christ.
It is absolutely amazing how God works. Here, in a place that many southern Christians consider incredibly spiritually dark – and for good reason – I found a man who truly sought to serve Christ and love His people.
As we continue our work this week please continue to pray for our group from Arkansas, as well as all of the other disaster relief teams from across the country. Pray that each of us would recognize and embrace the pervasiveness of Christ and seek to glorify Him with all that we are this week.
Arkansas Baptist News