South Carolina Lutherans Engaged in Flood Relief
By Rev. Herman R. Yoos, III, Bishop
In Isaiah 43:1-2 we read, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you O Israel; Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you . . . for I am the Lord your God.”
In the midst of the worst flooding from a 1,000 year storm, I invite you to pay close attention to the verbs in this passage how God’s still speaking these same verbs to us today. First God declares what has already been accomplished. Whether we realize it or not, God has created, formed, redeemed, and called us by name. In other words, we belong to a God who knows us inside and out. These verbs indicate that these loving actions have already been completed. They are not dependent upon our efforts or response. The word we Lutherans love to use to describe these actions is Grace!
Then we get to God’s promise for the future. When we pass through the waters that threaten us with chaos and destruction, we are not to fear because God walks through them with us. Whatever our human experiences of suffering tragedy and despair, God promises to be with us every step of the journey.
I encourage you to keep these words of scripture before you as you read over the many stories of relief, rescue and response to the waters of chaos that have inundated our state. Each of these stories is about God’s grace being lived out by Lutherans in our communities. Each of them expresses not only compassion and concern for our neighbors in need but more importantly how God is working here and now in the midst of this disaster energizing us to be blessings to others.
God reminds us that we are not walking alone through the outpouring of prayers, financial gifts, and offers to bring work groups from other synods to help with our relief efforts. We are not facing these floods alone. Pastor Roy Butler, a chaplain in the National Guard, is our South Carolina Synod Disaster and Volunteer Coordinator. Groups can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One more sign of being church together is how congregations in the Midlands are hosting 250 young adults trained for disaster relief through the Civilian Conservation Corps, which works closely with FEMA. Through their efforts many families, especially those who live in the poorer sections of the state, will receive assistance in clearing up and recovering from these floods over the next 4-6 weeks. Once again Lutheran congregations are partnering together to provide housing for these volunteers.
Right now, the way we can best serve our hardest hit communities is through financial gifts designated for flood relief. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from synods across the ELCA. The North Carolina Synod sent us a check for $10,000. The Lower Michigan Synod’s Bishop Craig Satterlee and Southern Ohio Synod’s Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt have issued a challenge to their synods to see who can raise the most support for the South Carolina Synod flood relief by November 21st when Michigan State and Ohio State play football.
Other significant gifts from all over the ELCA are coming in to Lutheran Disaster Response, which provides long-term relief efforts that often lasts 2-3 years, other gifts are being designated for Lutheran Services Carolinas which supports any disaster that affects North Carolina or South Carolina. It is amazing to see so many tangible expressions of God’s grace and support blessing the lives of others. All of these responses help us discover together what Bishop Eaton loves to emphasize wherever she goes, namely, that we are Lutherans and we are church together!
May God who walks with us through all the waters of chaos, continue to lead, guide and direct us in the journey of recovery!
In Jesus name,
Herman R. Yoos