As Dionne walked down the sidewalk, Derrick and I were discussing and assessing the situation. For the past two weeks, Adventist Community Services Disaster Response director (Derrick Lea) had been in constant communication with local entities and different organizations in the area of Baltimore and Ellicot City due to the flash flood disaster that swept away literally, dreams and possessions of many residents. One of those who he had been in contact, had been Pastor David Franklin, pastor of the Miracle City Church in Baltimore, Maryland, because one of the most affected areas was very close (a few streets over from the church).
When we passed Dionne on our way to one of the projects, we asked her if she had been affected, since the apartment complex that we were walking in front was being cleaned from debris. There was furniture, sheet rock and other possessions that had been basically ruined due to the floods. And Dionne replied that yes, she lived in one of those apartments and that her first floor had been flooded. As we continued the conversation, she shared that she was thinking about moving, because of the smell was too strong. Her two children were not home, because of that, and she was trying to assess what to do. Many of the people on that street that were affected did not have the proper tools to get their homes dried and at least in a reasonable shape to be ok.
As we walked a little more, she showed us her car, and showed us pictures of her car during the flash flood. As we continued talking, we mentioned that we were heading to see a group of people that were working on cleaning. She asked who we were, and we mentioned that we were from the Adventist Church up the road. We also shared that there was some help available to anyone who had suffered loss at the local Elementary school. At that point, we asked her if she would like to meet some of the folk helping from Miracle City. She said yes and after a prayer for her, we walked a few more houses over and met the crew. We wanted to connect her to pastor David, who was at that work site, working and cleaning.
As we got there, we continued to talk a little more, and Dionne said she had not been in church in more than three years. Derrick mentioned that our church was open on Saturdays, so that could be an option for her if she wanted to be there. As soon as pastor Franklin emerged from the house (he was cleaning and helping in there, complete with a mask filter), she recognized him. She mentioned to him that she recognized him from a presentation that pastor Franklin had done at the local elementary school where her children attended.
After a brief intro and some conversations, Pastor Franklin and Derrick ended up praying for her. She mentioned that she would probably be looking to visit the church very soon.
We don’t know who we will encounter later and who will be influenced by our actions, but this young lady recognized pastor Franklin because he engaged his local elementary school before. And by doing that, opened the doors for many other connections, even in the midst of recovery and chaos.
Armando Miranda is the Associate Youth Director for the North American Division