The Good News is a monthly report of effective ways congregations among churches of Christ in the United States are spreading the Word in their communities.
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Oklahoma Church Spreads Word Through Disaster Relief
by Cindy Smith
On May 19, 2013, as the Lakeview Church of Christ elders and deacons were dismissing their meeting because of storm warnings, Marty Lewis, one of the elders, prayed that the Lord would give them the opportunity to serve their community. Within hours the devastation that ripped through the community west of Shawnee provided just that for this small congregation of about seventy-five members. As the elders climbed atop the building that night to place tarps over the damaged roof, little did they know the great opportunity given them to shine the light to their hurt and hungry community.
Within the next twenty-four hours, the massive effort of tornado relief would begin. With help from Nashville’s Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Inc., a relief center was in place and brethren from all over the country, as well as the Shawnee area, began to pour into the area to help the victims. The opportunity to shine the light of service to the community was vast.
Throughout the weeks that have followed, there have been numerous opportunities for Christians to serve, and that service has demonstrated to others what Christ taught, “They will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.” Hearts from all areas have been touched by the love demonstrated through service. Shortly into the work, encouragement and demonstration of the power of this opportunity shined as words like, “We don’t know what we would have done without you,” and “I told my son, do you see who this is helping you? It’s Christians.” This small congregation found itself able to reach out to their community like never before.
One of the victims, Cecilia Engle, stated, “The tornado brought good because even though my place was damaged, it brought me back to God and the church.” Since the tornado, Tim Smith, the minister and director of the effort, has found the opportunity to talk to people about their spiritual needs like never before. This opportunity has shined the light to others across the nation as the love and effort by Christians from all over have come to work and reach out in love. One visitor from out-of-state affiliated with the Red Cross shook Tim’s hand and said, “Thank you for being the church. As I’ve traveled around, I’ve found many church doors closed and no one there helping. Thank you for being the church.” Throughout this effort, Tim and the other members have been able to point to the fact that they are simply following Jesus’ teaching and have offered His message of love and hope to their community.
As a result of doing what Christ teaches, the Christians meeting at Lakeview west of Shawnee have seen the number of believers grow. Since the tornado of that night on May 19, there have been many return to worship, six baptisms, and many visitors from the community who now know who and what the Lakeview Church of Christ is all about. May Christians everywhere always remember the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 12, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”