The Lord Brings Far Rockaway Through The Worst of the “Sandy” Storm
On Sunday October 28, 2013 the members of the Refuge church of Christ in Far Rockaway NY, celebrated morning worship with a bit of a different tone than usual. Forecasters had predicted a major hurricane heading to the northeast with her sights set on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, this would be the only service for the day, and the overlying theme was that “God is in Control”. The previous year had brought a similar warning with hurricane Irene, and even mandatory evacuations for ours and other coastal areas, but The Lord had been gracious there had been minimal damage to the community. Oddly enough the Pastor of Refuge, Bishop Leroy Joseph, Sr. had decided several months earlier to order a large number of flashlights as a parting gift for those who celebrated his pastoral anniversary celebration, only The Lord knew just how much the people would need those little yet powerful lights. At the close of Sunday’s service, Bishop was led to anoint everybody and just about everything in the temple. He handed out several flashlights to each member encouraging them to be wise and heed the warnings for the impending storm, the saints hugged each other and parted ways knowing full well they were all in God’s hands but still uncertain of just how things would work themselves out. Super Storm Sandy as it would later be referred as, came in and did just what predictions said, knocking out power for weeks, destroying homes, cars, and other property to the tune of billions of dollars in damages, while some of congregation lost cars and experienced damage to their homes, all were accounted for and physically unharmed.
After seeing and hearing about the extent of destruction in the area Bishop Joseph prayed that he would be able to help in some way saying, “even if we can only go and hand out sandwiches we have got to do something for the people”. Literally just a few short days after Bishop’s prayer, the phone rang and it was a son of his ministry, Bro. Anthony Harmon, who is now the director of ….. with New York City’s teachers union, The United Federation of Teachers. Bro Harmon had an army of volunteers, from not only the teacher’s union but almost every other organization he is connected with ready to join forces with Pastor Joseph and his congregation to help the community. Over the next eight weeks Bishop Joseph and his staff worked along with these groups, as well the American Red Cross, the NAACP, neighboring diocese (Try-District Diocese, Nassau/Suffolk Diocese), the Daughters of Zion from the Greater Refuge Temple, Harlem NY, and even one concerned family that traveled with a trailer full of donated supplies all the way from Georgia to serve thousands in the Far Rockaway community. Each week they provided canned goods, cleaning supplies, baby needs, clothing, as well as groups of the volunteers that went into several areas prepared to work on severely damaged homes. Despite all of the devastation The Lord Jesus Christ, showed that he still answers prayers even in the worst of situation, all glory and honor goes to Him.