Written by Katie Hargrove, 2nd year student in the Youth Leadership concentration
The initial shock of what has happened in Joplin has worn off now. The terrible impact of an EF-5 tornado destroying 30 percent of our city and killing over 150 people has been staggering at times. Even those not in the direct path of the storm have had to face the reality that in a few brief minutes our whole city was turned upside down and life will never be as it was. Experts tell us that a deep depression will inevitably settle on the city, divorce rates will rise, and that citizens must begin to understand a “new normal.” Darkness desires to creep in and wreak havoc on lives already thrown off balance. It lurks like a predator on the perimeter of our city, testing the boundaries to break in.
A brilliant light has hovered over our city though as the church comes into its own. As Esther was called to her place as queen for such a time as the hour of the Israelites despair, so too the church has been building through God’s spirit for such a time as this in Joplin. Emergency shelters, triage centers, and distribution points literally sprung up overnight as churches city-wide opened their doors to bring in the tired and the weary. FEMA officials say they have never seen a city respond in such a way to the needs of a crisis. The out-flowing of generosity from churches all over the nation has boldly placed Christ’s name at the forefront of our restoration. How appropriate it is that Christ, whose Word is the only true hope would be the rock that founds our restoration as a city.
The darkness will come, but, as Lamentations 3:21-22 says, “this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” God has shown Himself faithful here even amidst despair in such radical ways that the hope we hold in Christ has been tangibly seen. The perseverance and joy that Christians have held in their suffering, their response to this crisis, has been a testimony to the strength and truth of Christ. Light can overcome even the greatest darkness. We continue to pray that as the sun rises each morning the light of Christ washes over our city in the same way restoring lives fully to Him.