Shining His Light In A “Dark” Place

Samaritan’s Purse acts Quickly to Assist Hundreds of Traumatized, Dismayed and Disoriented Vermont homeowners to Deal with and Rebound from Vermont’s most Devastating Flooding In Nearly a Century.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers from all over the nation (approximately 220 men and women– by current reckoning)* quickly responded to the July 12, 2023-through July 14, urgent-notice from Samaritan’s Purse requesting immediate “ready” S.P. responders deployment to the most impactful natural disaster in Vermont history since the ‘Great Flood of 1927.”
At the first day briefing for Volunteer Chaplain responders who checked in for the July 23rd to July 29th rotation at (BGEA Mobile Ministry Center (MMC) location on Main Street Barre, Vermont), the BGEA Chaplain Coordinator made a cautionary heads-up advisory regarding the possible “dark” reception which in this this highly “secular” and “progressive” area of New England. See Related Topic SP Video link here.

In short, while there growing numbers of work orders building in the “cue” for disaster relief requested from homeowners who had been canvassed (through an outreach of a dwindling number of Christian Churches and non-religious based relief agencies in those major areas impacted), the expectation that a majority of those traumatized were unlikely to be seeking any spiritual assistance from SP volunteers or accompanying BGEA Chaplain Volunteers. These people were desperate, homes had been destroyed, families displaced and evacuated. It didn’t much matter what brand of charitable manpower was being offered up. Help was needed right now.
(Note: Samaritan’s Purse was quickly granted a ‘deployment site’ for housing and feeding volunteers, and dispatch of SP Vehicles and equipment. in Barre at the non-denominational evangelical” Faith Community Church.)

*The 220 SP volunteers were not all in the same week cycle – they rotated in and left usually on a weekly commitment, averaging 50 to 60 a week.

Jumping forward to last Saturday– August 12, 2023, here are the final deployment statistics for the 28-day mission; we can look back on the outcomes, the fruit, the power of faith in Christ who brings light into the darkness: From the team Coordinator Team Chaplin Greg Fleiz : “The last work order was finished last Saturday (8/12). In total, 113 homeowners received assistance from Samaritan’s Purse and 28 individuals made decisions to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Praise the Lord!!” – Greg.
Personally, this fledgling Chaplain had been somewhat unfazed by the “dark” advisory, though respectful and appreciative. Being from California, the societal evils, the creeping and ‘creepy-trans-wokeness’ the encampments of a drug enslaved population of homeless in the large progressive welfare driven enclaves of our major cities. it was just another sad, but unsurprising, reminder of these ‘last days’ which Holy scripture has shown us through prophecy.
So too, Vermont. This once charmingly envisioned and often portrayed in classic Hallmark Christmas cards: has become just one more “dark’ place on the nation’s map. Just one more sad, evil ‘enslaved’ township — an incursion from the West, no less. A reverse ‘manifest destiny. A decade long migration of largely youngish millennials, or burnt-out boomers, and so-called “eco-political-naturists”, or ‘micro-’shroomers’ (among other dark chems) living in tents, Or, since the Covid-19 epidemic, many in the town of Barre, had been given shelter in repurposed ”boutique hotels”, now homeless shelters – harnessed and subsidized through the taxes of a ‘benevolent’ sanctuary state (so declared by the Vermont Governor’s proclamation effective 2011).

Nevertheless, His light did shine through this rapid spontaneous inflow of joyful, energetic Samaritan Purse teams of men and women ready to serve unselfishly in the name of Jesus. So many of these homeowners were not only beleaguered and exhausted by the destructive impact of the storm itself on their personal lives, and crushing devastation homes and property, but also the relentless political and societal noise sweeping across their state and across the country. The stats above tell some of the story. Mostly the salvations. 28 of them. One came to Christ for every day of the deployment ending on August 12.

This Chaplain was blessed with leading three of these 28 salvations recorded to their Savior — all three repenting, acknowledging their respective sin, recognizing Jesus Christ as their Savior, and committing their lives to Him: A 43-year married woman with a 14-year daughter; a 36-year-old homeowner and building contractor, with a wife and four children under the age of 10- years-old; and, a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran and mental health facility counselor, and teacher for the last 40 years. All, not just shaken and disoriented by their sudden and individual losses of this dramatic flood, but each one’s recognition of the social, spiritual wreck of the darkening civilization and environment around them. All, to some extent were at a tipping point, where all of this had sucked any joy out of just “moving on,” in a ,“compounding chaos” — As one of them so eloquently put it. A chaos, all agreed in their own words, that had left them acknowledging their individual powerlessness to do anything about it. When I asked asked if they wanted to come to Christ, they just said yes and fell without any of my prodding into His arms. Jesus was knocking. He had chosen them.

One was a fellow veteran of the Vietnam War (I had served at the same time in that theater, but in a place called Lai-Khe – nick named ‘rocket city’); The fellow vet was a Marine – artillery corporal in 1968, who had fought in the violent and deadly battles of the Mekong Delta.

Me and my fellow chaplain, Hank, went by his house, which had been flooded, to follow-up on the heavy ‘mud out’ work the SP crew of 12 volunteers had finished-up a day earlier.

When we got to the house, we were not sure anyone was there. And though we had his cell service number, the T-Mobile reception indicator was wavering between 0 and 2 bars. We drove up this long, beautifully lush and green rural Vermont driveway to a clearing in which the Vet’s over 200 year-old antique white home stood. We stopped and proceeded to a flight of stairs leading to second story entry to the home’s kitchen; the first-floor-main entrance had been compromised, presumably by flood damage.

I pressed the doorbell and knocked. Me and Hank backed up. The Vet tried to push his dog back into the house. With one foot the dog was shut back in the house, as he stepped and let the screen door flap back into the door frame. We introduced ourselves standing on the landing at the top of the stairs.
His countenance was kind; he was fit and spry; his white hair full and tossed about. He quickly went to the amazing and thorough job the SP volunteers had done, their cheerfulness and enthusiasm to deal with this influx of blackish mud, bucketed out of the first story: the sheer overwhelmingness of the work carried out with such grace.. he said..

The conversation made it to Vietnam, the trauma. His described how it had let him into the mental health arena, and how he had seen so much post traumatic stress in the people (patients) he worked with and how his heart had been so affected in a secular therapeutic setting, had given him so much compassion.

I popped the question. “Do you have a relationship with the Lord?”

He said he had always tried to be a good and person but hadn’t a formal ‘religion’. We talked about this unprecedented flooding and loss that had shaken him and the community around him, as well as the encroaching devolvement of the society, and he admitted it was hard to reconcile..

We talked about Jesus, who He was, His blood sacrifice. Our fallenness, our sin. He teared up slightly. I asked “are you prepared to give your life to Jesus? He resonated with an emphatic “yes!” Me and Hank joined hands and reached out to pray and lead this gentle man in his prayer of repentance surrender.. we talked of “the cloud of witnesses” rejoicing in the Heavenly places, and that he was now a child of God, and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was good.

We talked a bit more, about the local church’s follow up resources. Then we said our goodbyes, and as we turned away to walk down the stairs, the Vet called out.. “What took you so long?” I turned and smiled. I just pointed up, “He’s never been apart from you.”