NEWPORT, NC (September 23, 2018) – Songs of praise rose Sunday morning in the cafeteria of the Newport Middle School, where scores of displaced Carteret County residents have lived for more than a week. “Christ alone, Cornerstone, weak made strong in the Savior’s love. Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.”
Through the storm.
The words couldn’t have been more fitting for those who gathered for the service led by SNL Church, whose Newport location on Highway 70 was destroyed by floodwaters.
“We weren’t spared from the flood,” SNL Church Pastor Matt Dymmel said. “But, it has given us the opportunity to share the love of God with other people.”
The church’s space inside a Newport shopping center was completely flooded, and nothing will be able to be saved. Not the chairs. Not the sound equipment. Nothing.
“Our loss has created an opportunity. If it takes us having our church flooded out for another person to know the Lord, we’ll do it, rebuild and have it flood again,” Pastor Dymmel said. “There’s no mourning over the loss of our chairs or equipment.”
On Monday, church members will begin mucking out their Newport church. But, on Sunday, their ministry was at Newport Middle School, their temporary worship center. Volunteers from SNL Church have been serving here alongside The Salvation Army since the evacuation shelter opened.
“How many are thankful for another day?” Associate Pastor Patrick McAnaw opened the service to applause. “This is SNL Church, everyone here, all of us.”
The “all of us” this day includes shelter residents, many of whom lost everything in the storm. Pastor Dymmel’s encouraging message was about foundations, using Jesus’s words in Matthew 7. If you build your house on the rock, you’ll be able to withstand the storms. “Your foundation is what determines what happens in and after the storm,” he said.
It was a call to not only hear the words of Jesus but to do them (Matthew 7:24).
These have been “marching orders” for SNL members, as they have given countless hours in volunteer service following Hurricane Florence. They have served alongside The Salvation Army at the Newport shelter. They have put tarps on roofs. They have taken chainsaws to fallen trees – all volunteers donning their trademark black T-shirts inscribed with the mission of the church (The Gospel. Discipleship. Community.) All in the name of Jesus.
“But, if we spend all this time serving, all this time rebuilding homes, and there’s no action in helping people know the Lord, we’ve wasted our time,” Pastor Dymmel said. “The Salvation Army hasn’t fed more 30,000 meals out of that kitchen for nothing, it’s for people to know Jesus.”
The partnership between The Salvation Army and SNL Church is deep. In fact, they worked together years ago to begin the Lunchbox Love ministry. The Salvation Army started the program, and SNL Church has taken it and grown it to provide more than 13,000 lunches to children this past summer.
During this disaster, The Salvation Army and SNL Church have worked hand-in-hand, preparing meals and ministering to people inside the Newport evacuation shelter. The Salvation Army has also provided food to help stock SNL’s Storehouse Pantry in Morehead City.
On Sunday, despite the circumstances many are facing, hope was in the air. “I’m excited about what God will do and what He’s already doing,” Pastor Dymmel said.
The excitement is about new opportunities. As Pastor McAnaw says, “This is a chance to show people that the church is still actively moving, that the church is alive. We have an opportunity to show Jesus to the community.”
Sunday’s service closed with this: “May this storm not be a marker of disaster but one of new life.”
And, SNL Church and The Salvation Army are thanking God for the new life already starting in Carteret County.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.