This is the Panama City Seventh-day Adventist Church where 2Serve set up and operated a POD for the state of Florida. Many people were helped in the name of Jesus. Please see further information about what 2Serve accomplished using young people in the next section of our Hurricane Michael report below after watching this moving video produced by the Gulf States Conference.
2Serve partnered with the Gulf States Conference and the Panama City Seventh-day Adventist Church to operate a POD (Point of Distribution) for the State of Florida in the parking lot of the church to hand out water, food and other necessities to Hurricane Michael survivors. In spite of the devastation all around the church God had His hand over it giving us a safe, dry place to operate from. We were without power or water until the 5th night when water was restored and the 8th day for power. Bottled water showers were the order of the day. You will see our showers that were built in the picture gallery below along with the shower tents that were provided us later on. We had 182 people come to help during the two weeks we were there averaging 97 a day with a high of 143 for 3 days. Becky Ingersoll and two or three helpers did the cooking for all responders and our military security team each day.
In addition to the POD we operated at the church we managed 4 other PODs, helped with hot meal preparation and distribution at 2 portable kitchen sites and provided debris removal for 50 families. At the end of the line where people drove through to get supplies, we located a student that would talk with the people a moment and then pray with them and give them a tract or a Steps to Christ book. People were moved to tears many times because someone was willing to take time to pray with them. The people we did debris removal for received hugs, prayer and a Steps to Christ to help them understand better why we do what we do.
We met the physical and spiritual needs of 10s of thousands of people that came through the PODs where our young people worked and for those we did debris removal for. The people in Panama City now know others care about them because of what God helped 2Serve provide them. The lives of all that responded will never be the same. You cannot meet the needs of others without being changed yourself. There is much to be done over the next few years to help the Pan Handle of Florida get back to a new normal. Many will leave because they lost all they had. We noticed there was no difference between the rich and the poor. They all had lost everything and there was no place to go to spend money for the things you needed even if you had it. They all came to get water and food at our PODs.
The following people and schools made this 2Serve response a reality:
1. Gulf States Conference President Dave Livermore and Treasurer Brian Danese that recognized and supported the aid our 2Serve team could bring to their constituents and general public in the Greater Panama City area.
2. Pastor Jay Rosario for opening his church to us, Kenneth Swaine and his wife for being there to open the church and helping in many ways, Beau the head elder who provided knowledge and expertise about the church property that aided our efforts.
3. Heritage Academy for staying the whole two weeks providing consist man power and key leadership roles.
4. Beacon Academy
5. Bass Memorial Academy
6. Forest Lake Academy
7. Laurelbrook Academy
8. Southern Adventist University
9. Other talented individuals that came to help, Thomas Chandler, Aby Santiago, David Yates, Tom Hayes, Ron Fowler, Don and Sandy Lutz and the family from Huntsville.
Many are the stories to be told of how God connected people together at just the right time to do the most good for the most people in the shortest amount of time. Lives were touched for Jesus that would never have been impacted under any other circumstances. Find a way to be the “Hands and Feet of Jesus” whenever and wherever you can! People need to know the END OF TIME IS HERE and God has SOMETHING BETTER in store for those who come to Him.
What 2Serve Disaster Relief team did for us here at Panama City Seventh-day Adventist Church cannot be described by words. Eternity alone will tell the far reaching influence of their sacrificial commitment of bringing aid and relief to our church family and community at large. We can never say thank you enough to this incredible group.
Their arrival to our hurricane destroyed city was prompt, their execution of daily tasks was extremely professional, their demeanor and energy was always positive with a smile on their faces, and the constant flow of people coming to our church property to receive relief aid was remarkable. I would highly recommend any church, community, and city in crisis and disaster conditions to partner with this heaven sent group!
I’m not at all an outgoing person. I’m very quiet and have a hard time trying to hold a conversation with anybody. Therefore, making this trip a dreaded C.E.R.T. trip. I love C.E.R.T. trips so it felt weird to actually dread one. I think why I was dreading it so much was because my brother was home very sick at the time when I got the announcement to go. Knowing he would not be able to come on this trip scared me because we have been through everything together. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere alone, not being able to talk to people.
I didn’t really know what to do. When I went to the dorm to pack, I stopped and prayed. I prayed that if God really wanted me to go that He would give me peace. Right after I had prayed that prayer I remembered Proverbs 3:5,6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” After reading this I was at peace because all I had to do was trust in God to send me to those He needed me to help and He would do it.
When we arrived in Panama City, Florida it was dark and we couldn’t really see the destruction from hurricane Michel. The next day seeing the affects of the storm was mind blowing. The group I was in was sent to Walmart to help the National Guard run a P.O.D. On the way we saw trees and power lines down everywhere, roofs blown off of houses and businesses, tree cutting homes in two, signs twisted and knocked over. It was overwhelming to see all the destruction! When I was working passing out food, water and ice I felt like I was doing nothing at all to help. I felt that if I wasn’t out there cleaning up debris, doing muck-outs, or moving trees I wasn’t really making a difference. The destruction was too great!
One day we had to switch up our groups. Instead of passing out food, water and ice I had to talk to people. I had to ask how many in their family, and if they needed food, water, and ice. This was extremely hard for me because, like I said, I don’t talk. It was really hard for me so in between cars I prayed. After I started praying, I began to see how thankful people were. I’m so grateful to have been able to have had this experience I have learned so much on this trip. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God gave me the strength I needed to go and do His work. He gave me the strength I needed to be able to talk with people. I also learned that God keeps His promises. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to go and share God’s love after a disaster like this!
While we were driving through Panama City, Florida I saw massive destruction and I thought about how I would react if that house or business was mine. This was different from any other disaster response trip I ever participated in. Seeing all of the destruction in Panama City was overwhelming and distracted me at first until I realized we were there to help others. I quit focusing on the destruction and asked God for help so I could help others as He did when He was on earth. The people there affected by Hurricane Michael had much greater needs than I did. One of the reasons God sent us there was to change our point of view about service. We recognized great need in many places and went all out to help others without considering what they looked like or how much money they had. If they needed help, we gave it to them.
God blessed me while providing for and praying with the people that came through our PODs (Point of Distribution). It was awesome to see their faces of gratefulness, happiness and peace after I prayed with them. You might think a simple prayer like, “Dear Father in Heaven help them to go through these trials and bless them in many ways amen” won't help them, well, you would be wrong. We were doing the best work one can ever do by praying a small prayer in their behalf. Another thing I helped with was serving food to people. Just by talking with them and asking them about their day and letting them know that someone cared was a blessing for both of us. These simple things blessed many people and helped them get closer to God.
I can say that helping others is not an easy task. It is physically and emotionally demanding. The thing that kept me working was the great needs of the people. I have never seen greater needs than what I saw in Panama City! The reward that comes with this tremendous work is that people see Jesus through us. You might not think that is possible but God uses the simple things we do to bless others in mighty ways. Yes, I was tired after two weeks of disaster response but God provided me strength to keep working for Him. You do not have to perform great works. Simple prayers or sharing a Bible promise makes a difference in the lives of others for God. If you have not experienced serving others I invite you to consider my testimony and find ways to do so soon.
October 10th 2018 Panama City Florida, it was so sad to see my home state of beautiful Florida in the devastated state that it was. I was at a POD (Point Of Distribution) one beautiful afternoon. My job at the POD was to pray with pray with people or at least ask them if they wanted to pray before they left. As you can imagine some people said yes while others, said no. On this after noon a man came along that I will surely never forget. I asked him if he would be willing to let me pray with him. His response was a firm “I'm an atheist”. After saying that there was a period of silence then out of nowhere he said, “well ok fine I don’t see why not”. And to be honest I was quite stunned as atheist’s are strongly against prayer.
I had an extra long prayer with him. After praying I looked up and he was smiling at me and he said, “people like you help restore my faith in humanity and that this level of kindness can only come from a divine source”. When he said this God popped a quick simple message into my mind “Give this man a Steps to Christ book”. As I handed him the book he said, “I'm going to read this the second I get home”. And with that we said our goodbyes and he drove away. That experience was one of the many that made my time there a pleasure and a joy.
God has really opened my eyes to the meaning of true happiness. It was mind shattering to see people loose everything they own yet they’re still cheerful and praising God! Seeing that really hit me deep down and showed me that honestly, I have nothing to complain about. These people literally lost everything yet you don’t see them walking around bitter and crying. They were up and around and what I found even more amazing was they were driving all the way out to the POD to get supplies for their neighbors that couldn’t get out themselves. Seeing a community like that join together in such a time of need really showed me the love of God in a way I will never forget. It has restored my faith in humanity and shown me that even in the darkest times, through the power of God, people can still be a light in the darkness. This trip has boosted my spirituality so much and I'm very thankful for this opportunity to serve.
I remember when I first saw the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Few trees were left standing, houses without roofs, trees cutting some in half and with no water and no power. We got up early every morning to hand out needed supplies at five different PODS (Point of Distribution) around Panama City where we were teamed up with the national guard. People would drive through slowly and stop at the different stations where we would put food, water, feminine products, baby products, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. into their vehicles.
At the end of each of each POD line we would ask if there was anything more they needed and would ask if we could pray with them. Most people would welcome prayer and they really needed to know that Jesus was with them at all times as demonstrated through us by our willingness to be there to help them in any way we could. You may think that you have everything in this world, but it can all be lost in a second. We have to be thankful for being alive. Some people in this disaster did not get an opportunity to get to know Jesus. But for those who came to our PODS, we were the hands and feet of Jesus.
In addition to the PODS, we went to people’s homes and helped them with debris removal. I got to do that as well. I was really glad that I got the opportunity to help people by picking up the trees that fell around and on their houses. Adults cut up the trees and we hauled all of the debris to the side of the road. One of the reasons I enjoyed being on a debris removal team was that I could work out picking up logs and taking them to the side of the street.
As I worked I felt that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and telling me to pray with the people at their homes, but I didn’t want to at first. However, the Lord put something in my mind to make me think differently. I began thinking, what if my family lost everything they had, all the time, money, and effort ending up destroyed. It made me think and care more about the people we were helping. As a result, I prayed with a family and when I was done praying they were crying and thanked me. I felt the Lord spoke through me to them. It was an awesome experience!
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