Last weekend and the weekend coming will provide us at Crossroads the opportunity to share together in a united and compassionate response to the devastation brought about by the F-5 tornado in Joplin, MO a week ago last Sunday. The opportunity to give a designated financial offering marked ‘Joplin Tornado’ and to give needed supplies from our abundance to those who now have little or nothing will precede the careful distribution of financial relief and a truckload of supplies going to Joplin on Monday, June 6th. I want you to read a pastoral letter by my presidential successor at Ozark Christian College…. It will help you better empathize…. K I
Dear Ozark Family,
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This past Sunday in Joplin, everyone’s life took an unexpected and defining turn. The massive tornado that raged through our city destroyed lives, businesses, homes and vehicles in its path. Families are mourning, homeowners are salvaging, employees wonder if they have a job, business owners wonder if they can restart and the school system is scrambling to rebuild. We have prayed, searched for survivors, recovered bodies, cleared debris, cooked meals, cut up fallen trees, picked through rubble, bandaged wounds, taken in displaced families, organized relief efforts, prayed, wept, listened to the radio for information like our grandparents did in World War 2, and prayed some more.
No one’s week proceeded normally, and in a sense, nothing will be normal again. For our community, this is 9/11, and everything will now be different. Family reunions, long-time neighborhood relationships, trips to the doctor’s office, even the Wal-Mart where you shop—it’s all changed. A once-green swathe of trees across our city is gone, and a simple drive up Rangeline—which is no longer a simple drive—reminds us that the skyline itself will be forever altered.
The tornado has permanently changed our landscape, but it’s also rearranged our calendars. What we thought we would do this week isn’t what we ended up doing. Starting Sunday night, you instantly rewrote your to-do lists. You scrapped regular hours and routine tasks. You got up early, stayed up late, and in between you searched-and-rescued, repaired roofs, prepared food, sorted donated clothes, and comforted grieving families. Here on campus, you swiftly tackled new duties: compiling information on affected Ozark people, organizing housing for hundreds of volunteers, refiguring a summer’s worth of cafeteria work, preparing buildings to be used for relief, programming our website for tornado donations.
In your own place, in your own way, each of you has done a hero’s work. I have been throughout the community this week, and everywhere I looked, I saw Ozark folks doing what they could in Jesus’ name. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your compassionate heart, your leadership energies, your others-first attitude, your creative flexibility, your sacrificial service. Thanks for everything you’ve done. God has used you mightily this week, people have been blessed, and all I can say is: I’m proud to work alongside you.
Now at the end of a long week, may I offer a pastoral word? For the last seven days, emergency status has been the status quo. You worked hard, slept little, drank lots of caffeine and ran on adrenaline. In this season of immediate response, you have pushed beyond normal limits, and rightly so. The needs were urgent. But we are preparing to move into a season of sustained response. Rebuilding will take time, and the recovery process will be a marathon, not a sprint. So if we truly want to help people, we would all be wise to find a sustainable pace. Now would be a good time to take a breath, take a break, and take a nap.
A fuel truck has two tanks—the large one full of fuel being delivered and the smaller gas tank for the truck itself. If the truck doesn’t keep its own tank full, it will never get the larger tank of fuel delivered. So while you are delivering relief to others, make sure to give yourself a little relief as well. Work hard, but take time to go home and love your family, play with your kids, eat your dessert, read your Bible and get a good night’s sleep. A wise old sage said, "The bow kept taut will quickly break," and too often, emergency workers burn out because they don’t take a timeout. So be intentional. Refill your tank . . . and then keep filling those cups of cold water to give in Jesus’ name.
Dear Father…. Thank You for Your promise of comfort for the grieving, strength for the weak, rest for the weary, guidance for the lost, provision for the poor, healing for the wounded and grace for all. We entrust the victims of this tornado to You, and we ask that You give each what is needed from Your storehouse of blessing. May they sense Your presence at their side. Even as we lift up the victims, we also lift up the volunteers who are rushing to their side. Thank You for moving through Your people to help this hurting city, and give each faithful laborer Your sustaining power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ozark Christian College
President Proctor’s wise words and prayer have application for all of us caught up in the swirling winds of life’s normal routine. We need the very same counsel as our friends in Joplin….to keep our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual tanks full so we can be in position to offer help to others in the name of Jesus. “The God of all comfort [strength]….comforts [strengthens] us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort [strengthen] those in any trouble with the comfort [strength] we ourselves have received from God.” [I Corinthians 1:4]
Yours for Christ and Crossroads,
Pastor Ken Idleman