By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BEAUMONT, Texas (LBM) – When the team from First Baptist Church in Mandeville arrived in late September at a site hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, they simply were obeying God’s command to serve victims of the devastating storm.
But for Gaylynn Johnson, a resident of Beaumont, Texas, the work crew was God’s answer to her prayers.
“I’m so glad to see you!” she recalled was her greeting to the team.
The storm’s torrential rain had caused flooding more than three feet deep inside her home (and it was two weeks before the water receded), destroying most of her possessions.
“We had been hoping for someone to come and help us,” Johnson told the Baptist Message. “Someone just called to tell me that help was on the way, and I got over there [work site] right away.”
MEN AT WORK
Moments after that greeting, Johnson said, the team got right to work, putting on respirator masks while conducting a tour of the damage.
Although she and her husband had removed all the damaged furniture, clothing and other items, a putrid stench persisted, she remembered.
Larry, an electrician, was unable to assist the Mandeville team during work hours, Gaylynn said, but he contributed to the restoration effort as best he could around his schedule.
Regardless, the team pushed ahead every day, she said, and, she was overwhelmed that despite the daunting conditions the team never faltered.
GOD AT WORK
“We told them [Johnsons] that we love the Lord Jesus and He led us to come help some people who had been hurt by the hurricane,” First Mandeville Pastor Ken Schroeder recalled explaining to her. “We want to show you the love of God.”
The team removed drywall and insulation up to the ceiling in all the rooms, gutted the kitchen and applied Shockwave throughout. When low water pressure prevented them from spray washing the house, they moved on to another project in the neighborhood, but they returned to complete the job, Schroeder said.
Moreover, although the Johnsons are Christians, Schroeder said the team was able to sow seeds of the Gospel with others in the community, and a future harvest is hopeful.
HOME SWEET HOME
When demolition was completed and all the debris removed, the team showed her each room inside the home.
Despite the fact the walls were nothing more than bare studs, Schroeder said tears streamed down Johnson’s face as if she were a contestant on a home makeover show. He said she told him she could see a way forward and the possibility to rebuild.
When it came time for the team to return to Mandeville, Schroeder said Johnson told them she was sad to see them go, but happy to have an answered prayer.
Schroeder said he encouraged her not to let the destruction, which included many of the churches in the area, deter her and her husband from attending Sunday services the next day.
“We told her that we would be worshiping [at home] tomorrow and urged her to do so the same,” he said. “I told her, ‘Gaylynn, I know that you have a big task ahead of you with this house. But please take the first part of your day tomorrow, and go to a God-honoring, Bible-believing church,” and he pointed her to a nearby Southern Baptist congregation that had been spared from the ravage of the storm.