posted on December 06, 2013 11:48
Donald Magaw is the pastor of Port Monmouth Community Church in New Jersey. The church was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, and in the aftermath of the devastation, TBM came to provide help. Below is a letter Pastor Don sent TBM:
When I first saw the destruction at the church from Sandy, I was heartsick. In 1950 my parents reopened the church after it had been closed for nearly 30 years. God blessed the church. I have been a major part of this little church since I was 6 years old, 63 years total.
I could not believe the destruction. And being human, I began to wonder just how we were going to save the building. Most of the houses near the church have been condemned and those that were not, had much structural damage. The church had minimal damage to the structure except for the water being nearly 4 feet high in the sanctuary. (Since the church is slightly elevated, that meant that we were hit with 13 feet of water).
The town wanted to condemn the building because part of our damage was caused by sewage that came from the treatment plant just across the meadow from the church. They would not pump out the crawlspace because of contamination, but the man in charge said, “I will loan you my personal pump and what you do with it ‘I don’t want to know.’”
But we still had to deal with the “mess” and gook. We were working on Saturday morning trying to salvage and not knowing which way to turn when someone came and said, “We heard you needed help.” When he assessed the situation, he said, “I am from Texas Baptist Men, I will be back with a crew to help.
And help they did. The first thing they told me was “You are the pastor, this is not your job!” “Get out of the way and we will take care of it.” We had no power so they worked until dark and then told me not to worry that they would be back. Bright and early on Monday morning, they came with a caravan of cars and trucks and equipment and continued the clean up. They moved everything out that could be salvaged, dumped what could not be saved and began removing the wall coverings below the water line. They power-washed the inside of the building and then sanitized it.
One somewhat funny thing happened while the man was power-washing. We had just had 4 feet of water on the floor and he was power-washing and I came in and said, “Please don’t get the floor wet.” The workers all got a kick out of that and it helped break up our morbid feelings.
The strange part is that I did not contact them, no one from our church contacted them, but they told me that God had told them of a need and they were here to help. Then then told me that they were on their way to New York but were somehow diverted to us. We are a very small congregation, but we do have a powerful God. If we had had to do the clean-up ourselves, we would still be digging it out. God truly still moves stones.
We are forever indebted to the TBM and all their people. For without them, our church would have had to be knocked down and there is no way we could have rebuilt it on our own. We did not have insurance (and even those with insurance still have not been paid) and we rely 100% on God’s people coming to help.
We have learned a major lesson….Our God is still the God of the universe and our God is greater than any “Sandy.”
Last year the church was not able to host their traditional Christmas celebration. This weekend, they will once again host the Christmas party at their church and share testimonies, a potluck dinner and a special program. No doubt they have many stories to share and reasons to celebrate.
: Reflections after Sandy