Volunteers in Joplin for Memorial Day

by Janet Chismar
When Will Graham looked out over Joplin, Missouri, this morning, he saw mile after mile of devastation. The May 22 twister left a swath one mile wide and seven miles long. “The community is literally ripped apart,” he said, trying to put words to the horrific scene he witnessed. “Nothing is left. The streets are wiped clean.”

Joining his father, Franklin, on a Memorial Day visit to the tornado-ravaged community, Will met with Rapid Response Team chaplains and Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working on a holiday to show the love of Christ to storm victims, and with survivors who shared stories of tragedy and triumph.

“We met one 83-year-old lady who survived the tornado by hiding in a little closet with her pet and a picture of Jesus,” said Will. “She was literally trapped in there until her son chain-sawed through the sheet metal to dig her out. But she was smiling and talking about her love for Jesus today.”

Will and Franklin also met a young man who said he had his values “upside down” before the storm. He survived the tornado by diving from his shower into a crawl space under his house. He realizes God spared his life. “After his world was turned upside down,” said Will, “this man’s values are now right side up.”

Both Grahams stressed the importance of prayer. “We come in the name of Jesus Christ and the greatest thing we can do is pray,” said Franklin. “This community has been hit hard. This tornado will go down in the record books. We are focusing on helping people who have lost absolutely everything.”

“Pray for the Rapid Response Team chaplains and the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers who are ministering here,” said Will. “Also pray for the churches in this area. Here in the Midwest—in this beautiful, hard-working community—neighbors are helping neighbors. Christians are being the body. People from around the country have come here to help.”

Some 830 people showed up to volunteer on their day off work. “I want to thank the volunteers for all that they are doing,” Franklin said. “We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers.”

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