As people emerge from their homes and lights and power flicker back to life, the disciples in the New York / New Jersey area are rolling up their sleeves to help. Staten Island, one of the five boroughs in New York City,was hammered by what appears to be the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. It is by the grace of God and his almighty power that all the Staten Island disciples have been spared and are now lending a much needed helping hand to the many residents here who desperately need help.
Although the disciples in Staten Island were spared from injury or life changing property damage, the community has lost 23 lives and large densely populated neighborhoods have been completely destroyed. Heartbreaking stories tell us of children ripped from their mother’s arms, loved ones torn apart, rescuers losing their lives and families left homeless. John Beene, Evangelist for the Staten Island region of the New York City Church of Christ said, “The disciples have been involved this last week in everything from rescue operations to sorting donations to distributing food. One brother [Bill Patsakos] serves with the NY fire department and was on the coast in a boat saving people at the height of the storm . . . I’m very proud of the disciples’ efforts . . . Our community faces a rough road ahead, and we want to help in every way we can.”
As the disciples are in the community serving those in need, they are moved by the pain and the gratitude they see in the storm victims. “It really just touches your heart to see how much these people are hurting,” remarked Mario Nicolaou, a disciple on Staten Island, who was serving victims food, “and to be able to have something little to give them. One woman just grabbed my hand and thanked me with tears in her eyes.”
“One woman's house was completely destroyed in the storm. She was in tears. She was helpless. She was asking for water and blankets,” recounted Catherine Mancilla, another disciple recruited for aiding the victims, “at first, I didn't think we had blankets and I had to tell this woman the bad news. After discovering that someone had brought blankets specifically for distribution, we were both elated and relieved to know that God wasn't going to send this woman away empty-handed.”
With the death toll rising and gasoline remaining scarce, it is clear that the recovery process will be slow. While affected Staten Islanders salvage debris where homes once stood, we mourn losses far greater then we've ever experienced. However, with about 100 disciples of Christ, it is clear that God plans to use them in powerful ways, that is, to help rebuild the community, to comfort those in mourning and to win souls. Please pray for the disciples in Staten Island to be strong and courageous as we help our community during this devastating time.