'Ministry on the Way:' Chaplains Go with Flow
Spirit Leading Rapid Response Team in Tornado Aftermath
March 9, 2012 - In the tornado-ravaged communities of Henryville, Ind., and Harrisburg, Ill., Rapid Response Team chaplains are being reminded that when it comes to ministering to survivors, flexibility to the Holy Spirit is critical.
"My husband (Denny) and I have a saying. 'What you're sent there for is not always what you're sent there for.' "
— Chaplain Ginger Sanders
By Trevor Freeze
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. — Isaiah 55:8
When it comes to a Rapid Response Team deployment, there's only about one thing chaplains can truly count on:
Even the best-laid plans are subject to change.
Ginger Sanders — one of eight chaplains working in Henryville, Ind., (population 1,900) where twin tornadoes damaged "almost every building" — has been reminded again that when it comes to ministering to survivors, her plans are not always God's plans.
"My husband (Denny) and I have a saying," Ginger said. "'What you're sent there for is not always what you're sent there for.'"
Ginger and chaplain Suzanne Eckert had been trying to visit Virginia, a homeowner who like most people in this town had lost everything. "The whole town of Henryville has almost been knocked out," Ginger said.
But after several near-misses, Ginger received a call on Thursday, asking if it was OK for Virginia, Jessica and her 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, to meet them at the church parking lot where Ginger was stationed.
Of course, Ginger said, and along with Suzanne, the two chaplains had the honor of sharing with and praying for the three generations of women. They also presented them with a Bible signed by Samaritan's Purse volunteers.
"As we were talking, I said, 'If you hadn't made it through the storm, would you have made it to Heaven?'" Ginger said. "And she said with tears starting to roll down her face, 'I hope so, but I'm not sure.'
Ginger took out the "Steps to Peace With God" booklet and said, "Here's how you can know for sure."
"The niece said yes, the aunt said yes and the daughter said yes," Ginger said. "God has a plan and His plan is far greater than we'll ever know."
The story doesn't stop there.
Later on Thursday evening, Lauren wanted to share her new faith with her grandmother and Virginia's sister, Hazel, who was having surgery for breast cancer on Friday. Hazel already knew the Lord, but Lauren wanted to pray a prayer of assurance with her grandmother, just in case something happened in surgery.
"(Hazel's) surgery went great," Ginger reported, "and now they all have the peace and joy of Jesus Christ."
'Ministry on the Way'
All chaplain Suzanne Galvin knew is she needed a caffeine boost. Little did she know that when she opened the door to the the Harrisburg McDonald's she was entering holy ground.
"You start off with these addresses and humanly you think this is where you're going today," said Suzanne, who along with her husband, John Galvin, are wrapping up the deployment in Harrisburg, Ill., where seven people died and 100 others were injured. "But (on Monday), we went to McDonald's to get a cup of coffee and I started to talk to the woman behind the counter."
Suzanne asked the woman if she was home when the tornado hit and immediately she started crying.
"We were able to minister to the woman and talk to her about how the Lord loves her and pray with her and bring her comfort," Suzanne said.
This scenario has played out so many times, that Suzanne and John have coined a phrase for it — "Ministry on the Way."
"So you find you might have a list of people you think you're going to visit with and you may have an agenda in your mind, but the Lord has something else in mind," she said. "That's what we call 'Ministry on the Way.' "
Be the Hands and Feet of Christ
During 2012, the Rapid Response Team will continue to bring God's love to people touched by disasters. You can play a part through your prayers and donations. Please give today to help hurting people at home and around the world.