by Timothy A. & Kimberly B. Southall
By the time we arrived, the water had receded, leaving over $30,000 in damage to the uninsured church building. The floor, floor coverings, walls, heating systems, and most everything on floor level had been damaged or destroyed.
The remainder of the day Tuesday was spent painstakingly
tearing up the soggy particle board flooring--piece by small piece. Other
volunteers who had received KYOWVA's message also arrived to help later
that day. Wednesday, the tedious, "back-breaking" work continued as we
worked beside church members and other volunteers-believers and non-believers
Upon returning to our home, it was also our privilege
to create an Internet web page to further assist this beloved congregation. Within the next three weeks, brothers and sisters
in Christ from near and far provided much-needed manpower, supplies, donations,
and prayers. Even "denominational" lines were crossed as a youth group
representing Baptist, Nazarene and Christian Assembly congregations from
Throughout the recovery period, many used their gifts and talents not only to restore the church building but also to renovate it. These improvements will benefit future growth of the congregation. The pews were sanded and varnished, and a seamstress within the congregation made beautiful, professional-quality cushions for them, improving the comfort during the worship services. The stage in the auditorium was enlarged, enabling both the organ and the piano to be at a higher level should another flood rear its ugly head. The restrooms were relocated to a better place in the building, and walls were removed to furnish the congregation with a spacious and lovely fellowship hall and a completely remodeled kitchen. Dark, paneled walls were replaced with drywall, lending a lighter, friendlier atmosphere. The heating and air conditioning duct work was relocated to the ceiling rather than remain in the floor so that future flooding could not be such a threat to it. The building was re-carpeted. Many of the broken, outdated crank-style windows were replaced.
One by one, God faithfully supplied the many, many
needs throughout the cleanup, restoration, and renovation process. IDES
(International Disaster Emergency Service) immediately gave financial assistance.
Donations poured in from generous folks all across the nation. Just
Seeing all of the congregations from miles around lend aid to this body of believers was wonderful. And to witness the church members come together and work in harmony, not only initially but also as the days turned into weeks, was to watch the Spirit of God in action. We originally thought our purpose in going to help our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ripley was for their benefit. How wrong we were. Our work was of benefit to them, but we now know that we were the ones who received blessings beyond measure. For, since being baptized in early 1996, this was the first occasion we had to witness Christ's love put into action during time of extreme stress. It is always easy for people to display loving kindness during good times, but the true measure is to pass the test while in distress. The Ripley Church of Christ did all that and more. With this flood, Satan had surely planned the destruction of this congregation. But with Christ's help, this body of believers turned it around and used it to help further the cause of Christ. And those who came into contact with these Godly people were blessed many-fold.
As a result of the catastrophic flooding, God brought
people together who had never met. Working with these people and seeing
them be one in spirit and in truth renewed our faith in Christ's church.
This was truly a win against Satan not only for the Ripley Church of Christ,
but also for all who helped them to further the kingdom of God. From the
beloved members of Ripley Church of Christ, we saw the meaning of
Copyright © 1999 Timothy A. & Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.