This is from Reverend Steve Reynolds, pastor of Renew ARP Church in Fort Myers, Florida.
We were able to meet for worship on Sunday. The power at the church building came on about 9:00 p.m. Saturday evening (we were planning on meeting in the parking lot if needed). The building’s foyer and worship space are dry, so we met in air conditioning and had wi-fi for those who had not been able to use internet since this storm passed through.
The worship was a true blessing. We started off with giving notecards to everyone to write down one thing for which they are thankful in the aftermath of Ian and one specific prayer need/concern. We then moved into a time of singing – all songs that focused on God’s provision and protection, as well as His grace and majesty. We then opened it up for people to suggest songs that were meaningful to them. Afterward, we simply asked people to share something for which they were thankful now and told them this would be the offering to God today (not money). Probably half of those who attended shared thanksgiving to God. I followed up with a very brief message from Lamentations 3 (God’s mercies are new every morning). We then shared prayer concerns. This part was heart-wrenching. People had lost homes – complete homes, jobs, and security, and one man lost a friend. Following this, we joined hands and closed in prayer for one another and our community – allowing anyone who wanted to pray. At one point, one of our Hispanic members prayed an intense prayer in Spanish – most of us didn’t understand her, but God certainly did! Afterward, we simply hung around and talked, hugged, and cried with one another. Our God has proven so faithful!
This week we are seeing power begin to come on for many in our congregation. Our worship leader, who does dialysis at home and had gone way too many days without it, received a new generator from an outside organization so that he could continue his care. We are beginning to collect and set aside funds for benevolence to help those in our group who have needs now and those who will have them in the near future as a result of the storm. God has always been faithful to us – every time we have invested in ministry, He has provided (never in the way we expected, but He has always, always provided). The devastation is immense, and the recovery is going to be slow, but the grace of God abounds.
Thank you for your prayer and concern!
ARP Good Samaritan Fund
The Good Samaritan Fund has been activated with an online giving link for Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief. You may click here to give online or mail a check to the ARP Center, 918 S. Pleasantburg Dr., Ste. 127, Greenville, SC 29607. Be sure to include Hurricane Ian in the memo. If you have any questions, please contact the ARP Center 864-232-8297.
As we did Sunday morning at worship, we will corporately lift up Paster Reynolds and Renew Church in the coming weeks and months.