Chaplains Experience Trailer Park Transformation
2 Parks in Northern N.J. Touched After Hurricane Sandy
November 29, 2012 - What was once garbage-filled trailer parks, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, has been cleansed both in appearance and spiritually in northern New Jersey.
I’ve never seen it like this in any other deployment. People have just been eager to hear the message."
— Chaplain Kate Poll
By Trevor Freeze
Hurricane? What hurricane?
In Bergen County, N.J., two trailer parks that were hammered by the “Perfect Storm” in late October, now hardly show any visible sign that a hurricane had come through.
Even Kate Poll, one of the Rapid Response Team chaplain coordinators, can hardly believe her eyes at the difference between now and then.
“When you look at the property itself, there was so much garbage everywhere,” Poll said. “Driving through today, the garbage has been cleaned up … you wouldn’t know there was a disaster here.
“It’s amazing what the Lord has done in these two trailer parks.”
That amazement doesn’t stop at the physical appearance of the two neighborhoods. A spiritual cleansing has taken place in Bergen County, where 19 chaplains have prayed with more than 680 residents.
Sharing the hope and love of Christ as the long recovery process continues.
“It has been a complete work of the Holy Spirit,” Poll said. “Every time we’ve gone into that trailer park we could sense the presence of the Lord.”
Providing emotional and spiritual care to the residents of this storm-tattered region, the crisis-trained chaplains oftentimes get the opportunity to share about the lasting hope that only Christ can provide.
“It’s as if He’s walking before us, preparing the hearts of the people,” Poll said. “And when they hear the message, they’re ready to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
“I’ve never seen it like this in any other deployment. People have just been eager to hear the message. One day in one hour and fifteen minutes there were four decisions for Christ.”
Other Sandy Deployment Updates
Closing in on a month in both New Jersey and New York, the Rapid Response Team’s relief effort continues to go strong, with three of the four original counties still active.
Atlantic County, home of Atlantic City, closed its deployment on Tuesday with 47 chaplains ministering there to more than 850 residents.
The mobile unit used in Atlantic County is now moving north to Monmouth County, N.J., home of Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, where Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham and vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, held an evangelistic Celebration in May of 2011.
In Ocean County, N.J., where Sandy has rendered Seaside Heights uninhabitable, more than 2,800 residents have been ministered to by 33 different chaplains who are stationed in Toms River, N.J.
In Nassau County, home of Long Island, N.Y., 33 Billy Graham chaplains have prayed with more than 1,600 residents from their home base of Lynbrook, N.Y.
And in many cases, residents in these hard-hit areas are still in survival mode, not able to think about turning the corner.
“They don’t even see the corner,” Rapid Response Team director Jack Munday said. “I’m not saying some haven’t turned the corner, but particularly on Long Island, some don’t have power.
“In some of the cities, they want to bulldoze the house, but they don’t know where the homeowner is. They can’t mail them anything. They don’t know their cell phone number.”
Providing emotional and spiritual care through the holidays, the chaplains will continue a presence in the northeast for weeks, if not months, as survivors continue to figure out the new normal.
“You’re dealing with people, some of whom are already in crisis,” Munday said. “It’s not that life is going well and then the house flooded. They’re already broken people.”
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