Compassion: A Marshalltown Disaster Report

Paul Daniel, Iowa River COB

For the world, 07.19.2018 @ 4:38 in the afternoon is just a date and time on a calendar.  But for a specific group of people, in Marshalltown, Iowa, it is not just numerals, but they are characters that remind us of a specific moment that altered the course of our hometown.  This date will be branded in our memories. The EF3 tornado that rampaged through our community changed the landscape of our hearts and souls.  This transformation is visible in the city’s infrastructure to the deep-rooted trees that no longer provide shade and shelter to the traumatized mental and emotional lives.  Yet, in the aftermath of this disaster, our comm“unity” compelled by an innate desire to “love thy neighbor as yourself” chose to act.  Neighbor helping neighbor; churches united; businesses halted to take care of others; compassion for each other was felt and experienced.

One month post-tornado, our initial crisis relief efforts are mostly complete.  Many individuals jumped in working collaboratively with all those impacted by the disaster.  Government, churches, and non-profit agencies, local, state, and national, have put “boots on the ground.” They came, they saw, they helped, some left, others stayed and some will come back again.  We were “all hands on deck” post-disaster. We did well and we continue to persevere in our longing to help each other.

Iowa River Church of the Brethren has been blessed to receive support throughout this disaster.  Although not directly impacted, we had families from our congregation who experienced loss.  Yet, the church surrounded not only them, but took on the idea of becoming the Matthew 25 church helping where it was needed.  Immediately following the crisis, church banded together to provide basic needs (food, water, shelter); church was opened up for volunteers to use while helping the impacted; church provided meals for volunteers and the law enforcement agency; prayer walks in the community were part of our “boots on the ground;” ministry of presence to those families was done; food coupons and cards were passed out to families.  Iowa River COB was truly alive and doing ministry.

The fervent prayers of the faithful received to date are unmatched and we continue to welcome your prayers to sustain us during this time of crisis.  The donations received from individuals in the area, various Brethren Churches, the Northern Plains District, and Brethren Disaster Ministry has overwhelmed us to propel us to ministry and become the hands and feet of Jesus.  There is no greater joy we find as we become messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  On August 29 2018, our NP Disaster Coordinator and the Brethren Disaster Ministries Director toured the city and received a report on the impact that Iowa River COB is having in the community.  Leadership of the church are involved in the rebuilding process through long-term recovery and Chaplaincy with the Marshalltown Police.During Thanksgiving week 2018, working with the Marshalltown Police and Sheriff, Iowa River COB will do  ride-a-longs with law enforcement passing out “Thanks-living” Cards for basic food and needs.  In December, we plan to initiate the Kingdom Assignment of giving each church family $100 to “Pay it Forward” as they deem necessary in the community.  Our church is on the move, a church without walls.

As a community, we are moving into the long term healing process.  We have provided and/or made available immediate response and relief for all those impacted.  Now, we move onto the next level of rebuilding.  This is a long process yet our resiliency is strong.  With God as our guide, we will rise again.  We will not be defeated.  We will rebuild.  We will be restored.  We are MarshalltownStrong but most importantly, we are GodStrong.

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