Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. –Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
One week after relentless rainfall began to devastate Colorado’s Front Range, residents are entering into a new phase of recovery—one that’s marked by hard work, resilience and, for many, deep anxiety.
As crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team entered a waterlogged Longmont, Colo., neighborhood Wednesday morning, they were struck by the rapid pace of the cleanup process.
Every house on the street showed signs of activity, as residents from preschool age to the elderly hustled to pick up the pieces from the flood. The chaplains saw determination and compassion—neighbors helping neighbors—but they also saw a penetrating sadness.
“You could see the despair and need in their eyes,” said Desi Perez, a Rapid Response Team chaplain from Oklahoma who’s serving in Colorado with his wife, Carolin.
“The streets are lined with piles of people’s lives,” Carolin said. “It’s all set out on the street as rubble to be picked up.”
As she walked down the road, Carolin noticed a young couple standing next to a yard full of torn-up floorboards, furniture and other belongings. Half a dozen articles of muddy clothing were spread out to dry in hopes of salvaging them.
Carolin approached the couple to see how they were doing. They told her the water in their home had been chest-high and, like most of their neighbors, they never thought they would need flood insurance.
“I told them why we were there,” Carolin said, “and that Samaritan’s Purse was available should they need help with the cleanup. They seemed immediately relieved.”
Carolin explained that the Rapid Response Team was working in the neighborhood with Samaritan’s Purse volunteers to help meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the residents. Then she asked if the couple would like her to pray for them. They quickly said yes, and the three of them huddled together as Carolin prayed.
“He was quite emotional after I prayed,” Carolin said. “There were tears in his eyes. He was very grateful, and I think he was encouraged by the fact that someone was there to offer assistance.
“It felt like one of those ‘God Appointments,’ that we were on the right street at the right time.”
Throughout the afternoon, Carolin and Desi had the chance to meet several other residents in the same neighborhood.
One couple was feeling anxious about the cleanup process, as they looked down at three inches of mud covering the floor.
A woman across the street admitted she was physically exhausted and overwhelmed.
Another woman had escaped the flood without major damage to her own home, but was searching for the best way to help her neighbors.
The chaplains prayed for each situation, always asking God to replace exhaustion with strength, and anxiety with peace.
“We know, because we’ve seen it time and time again, that Jesus can bring hope and He can bring encouragement to people,” Carolin said. “And that’s why we’re here.”
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:7 (ESV)