Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus,
On behalf of our congregation, I wish to give thanks publicly for the tremendous love and generosity of God's people in response to the tornadoes that hit southwest Virginia at the end of April. Not only have notes and e-mails of goodwill and prayers been regularly flowing in, not only have volunteers come to the area to lend a hand in the cleanup effort, but the financial generosity from all quarters of the country has been overwhelming. As of the writing of this e-mail, I would estimate that our deacon's fund has swelled to over $40,000. God is so good, and his people are so kindwhat a testimony of grace and love! It has been most humbling and such a rich, rich blessing to see God's church at work with such acts of service and charity. Thank you all so very much!
I wish I could detail all of the many contributions and notes that have come into our mailbox which have encouraged us, but two examples immediately come to mind. One OP church (which will remain nameless, for I know the folks there gave out of sincere love not for the sake of public recognition) contributed $11,000 to the relief fund. Wow! Now one might think that's a hard act to top, but I've got one for you. Last Sunday morning I was handed a Ziploc bag with approximately four dollars in it, consisting of paper bills and some change. Along with this contribution was a handwritten note from a group of young children who raised this money by selling drinks at a lemonade stand. When I read that note and beheld that precious gift of love and service, I could not help but recall the widow's mite. Surely God has perfected praise for himself out of the mouth (and example) of babes. So many others could be added. Some churches and deacon's boards have contributed more than once to our fund. Various individuals from all over the country have given checks enclosed with notes of handwritten encouragement. Every gift is precious in God's eyes and is a blessing to all of us.
In light of all this sacrificial giving, I would humbly ask with all gratitude of heart that you refrain from sending additional financial gifts for the time being. I can honestly say we now have more funding than we know what to do with (and I have no doubt that more is already in the mail heading our way). What we have now will more than adequately pay for the replacement of the Robinsons' roof and will likely leave a hefty amount to be used elsewhere, if needed. Rest assured, if for some reason additional funds are required, I will make it known to you. But there are so many others in need elsewhereJapan, Haiti, Alabama, and Mississippi, to name but a fewthat I can't help but ask you to please refrain for now.
By way of brief update, the Robinsons and the Reames are both holding their own. The temporary roof on Bradley and Mary Jane's house is working for now. We have a local contractor in mind to handle the roof repair, but it may be a little while before he can get started, as he is tied up with another project at the moment. He is an acquaintance of the Robinsons, however, and has not only agreed to do the job but assures them it won't be too long before he can get started. Sonny and Regenia Reames are now settled into a camper/trailer, which is adequate for now but, given the small living space, will prove challenging as time goes by. Please continue to pray for both the Robinsons and Reameses. They need patience and grace in this period of rebuilding.
The town of Glade Spring is slowly but surely coming back to life. As I mentioned in an earlier e-mail, power has been restored for some time now. Clean up of debris continues; structures are just starting to be rebuilt. It is amazing how much is accomplished in such a short time when so many folks come together. Nevertheless, it will be a long time before the town is completely back on its feet. Pray for the community, some are upset by the denial of FEMA support and there are numerous families whose homes were completely destroyed. I'm sure it's hard for them to make sense of such destruction. Other families are still grieving the loss of loved ones in the storm. Only four perished, but that is little consolation for the families of the ones who died.
Thank you for your many prayers and ongoing support.
Hank L. Belfield