On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made its destructive landfall in Texas as a category four hurricane. Chris Bennett, a member of The Mill, felt called to action. He travelled to Houston with his boat in tow, ready to assist those who were stranded and in desperation due to the rising floodwaters in the aftermath of the storm.
After his trip to Houston, Chris and his wife, Ashley, started to cultivate this new ministry for The Mill. They joined The Mill’s Acts 1:8 Committee as representatives for Disaster Relief. Ashley said, “After Chris’ trip to Houston, the Lord continued to work and open doors. Honestly, it was never our idea, it was His; and we have such a peace knowing He began this ministry, not us!”
The Bennett’s calling started a fire among the members of The Mill to serve in Disaster Relief.
Seventeen Mill members attended a training on September 11, 2018 at the North Spartanburg Baptist Association in order to prepare themselves for Hurricane Florence. Just three days later, Hurricane Florence devastated much of the Carolina coast and caused flooding throughout the surrounding areas.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, our Mill members quickly assembled to minister to those in need. Four members of The Mill joined a feeding team through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to minister to people affected in Florence, SC. These individuals along with additional SBDR volunteers from Rock Hill and Sumter served nearly 30,000 meals for those displaced along the SC coastline over the course of one week.
Five Mill members travelled to Cheraw, SC to help with mud-out, or flood damage relief, in several homes affected by Hurricane Florence. They were able to minister to four different families in Cheraw who lost nearly everything from the flooding.
“The one that stands out the most to me was helping a local 71 year old pastor and Vietnam veteran who had a total loss of his home. Through tears, he told us how he and his wife held hands and prayed as the waters rose to their knees. Despite losing everything, they still trust the Lord. Our team learned so much from their testimony and faith,” Ashley shared.
Lawrence Kakule was also part of the Cheraw Mud-Out team. He said, “At the pastor’s house we worked so hard. One of his grandsons asked me if I was going to be paid, and I said ‘no.’ Then he asked, ‘Then what is influencing you to work so hard for people you don’t know?’ I told him that it’s because of the love of Christ. He was humbled, and I saw tears in his eyes. That blessed my heart.”
On October 13, 2018 twenty-two members of The Mill attended a large training in Rock Hill, SC. Those individuals were trained in various areas of Disaster Relief, including assessment, site administration, medical trauma, children’s response, rebuild, laundry/shower, chainsaw and communications. Kyle Henry reflected on the Rock Hill training: “It made me realize we all have different things in our lives that we are good at, and we can use those things to serve Him in a much greater way than we do now.”
Now, The Mill has several members trained and prepared to serve, as much as one can prepare for disasters such as these. “With Disaster Relief, you learn quickly that you really can’t plan for disasters,” Ashley mentioned. However, we at The Mill are going to continue training people to more effectively serve when disaster strikes.
God has been working through many members of The Mill to serve in this ministry, not only through those working on the ground, but also at home. Mallory Davis chose to ask her friends and family for supplies to send to those affected by Hurricane Florence instead of birthday presents this year. She loaded them on the Disaster Relief trailer, which the Mill team took to Cheraw, SC. Mallory’s justification was simple: “Because they needed that stuff more than I needed birthday presents.”
This is a ministry in which the entire church body can serve in some way. “In this ministry, you truly get to see the Body of Christ work together. No doubt, it is a faith-building ministry to see fellow believers come together and put down their differences for the good of others,” Ashley expressed.
What’s next in light of Hurricane Michael? Ashley said that she and Chris are praying for the Lord’s guidance as to how to serve in Florida. She said, “We have family and friends in Panama City, so Hurricane Michael has had a very personal effect on us. As with any disaster, we will go where He sends us.”
If you are interested in learning more about this ministry or serving on a team in the future, please email email@example.com for more information.