Nashville ravaged by tornadoes; 22 fatalities

Nashville and surrounding communities have been ravaged by deadly tornadoes that hit late last night. Initial reports indicate 48 buildings collapsed in Nashville alone, with 22 fatalities reported. A state of emergency has been declared and the situation is still quite dangerous as firefighters report as many as 30 rescue workers have been injured.

This is an unprecedented tornado disaster for the city of Nashville as an EF-3 tornado ripped through the downtown area around midnight and then hit surrounding communities. 

+ + We are deploying to Nashville as I write!

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Can you help with this?

We're approaching the end of the month and here's our situation...

This month, Mercy Chefs teams will serve well over 10,000 meals to recovering disaster victims, volunteers and hurting children. Every day, our team is creating and serving a "lifeline of hope" through these hot meals.

As of this morning, we are still short of our budgeted funding need for February with just a few days left in the month. And here's where it could get real challenging.

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My story

Sometimes we get so busy with the critical needs that Mercy Chefs is meeting every day that I forget to share with our dear friends and supporters how the Lord got hold of my heart and the amazing events that led up to the launch of this ministry.

I recently sat down for an interview with HeartThreads, a wonderful organization that produces short videos that tell inspiring stories. The interview gave me a chance to share my story. Here it is:

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Have I ever shared my story with you?

Have I ever shared my story with you?

Sometimes we get so busy with the critical needs that Mercy Chefs is meeting every day that I forget to share with our dear friends and supporters how the Lord got hold of my heart and the amazing events that led up to the launch of this ministry.

I recently sat down for an interview with HeartThreads, a wonderful organization that produces short videos that tell inspiring stories. The interview gave me a chance to share my story.

Here it is...

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3,300 kids still HOMELESS from storm

The superintendent of schools in Panama City recently released a report on the status of schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

While much work has been done to restore normalcy, one fact shocked me. The report indicated that 3,300 students are still "homeless or displaced form the storm"!
And he says, "More and more of our children are coming to school hungry."

Mercy Chefs is feeding hurting school kids in Panama City, every day, through a partnership with the local schools. We are also housing and feeding volunteer teams who are helping to rebuild homes.

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They slept through the night for the first time in weeks

It's difficult to explain what hunger will do to a child...

Let me share two stories with you of people your support recently helped.

First, we met a single mom with four sons. Trying to raise four boys by herself on a very limited budget is a challenge in itself, but with two of her sons being autistic, this family faces a serious uphill battle.

This mom shared with us that she often was so overwhelmed, that all she could do was pull out some cold cereal for dinner. It temporarily filled their stomachs and she survived another crisis.

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God is ramping things up!

We just compiled our internal report for January, and I was quite amazed.

Mercy Chefs served more than 16,000 meals in the month of January alone!

January can typically be one of our slower times. But not this year, and based on what I believe the Lord is doing, it's "full speed ahead" every month of 2020.

Many of those meals were served in Puerto Rico as our team responded the the ongoing earthquakes there (the island was rocked by another quake on Tuesday registering 5.0 on the Richter scale). Thousands are still homeless because their homes are uninhabitable or they simply are still terrified to sleep indoors! Our work there continues through our key partnering relationships that we actually established more than two years ago after Hurricane Maria hit.

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Update on Puerto Rico

First of all, I want to personally thank every one of our team members who have stood with us in prayer and financial support for the people of Puerto Rico as they have faced what seems like a never-ending nightmare of earthquakes.

Just since Friday, amazingly five earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or higher have struck the island, including a 5.0 quake on Saturday. One report indicates that only 20% of the schools in Puerto Rico are "open and deemed safe," and none of the schools along the south and southwest coast have opened.

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We just "adopted" 200 kids; need help

The need is growing. We just "adopted" about 200 school kids who need our help. Please see below and go here to sponsor meals for earthquake victims. -- Gary

Saturday Morning:

With the earthquakes continuing, life just can't return to any semblance of "normal" for the people along the southern coast of Puerto Rico. 

As I've been sharing with you, thousands simply refuse to return to their homes for fear that the structures will collapse with the next earthquake. At the peak of the strongest quake, the shaking was so bad that you couldn't even walk. And the quakes usually seem to hit in the middle of the night.

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8,000 earthquake refugees

Another quake hit Puerto Rico yesterday morning. There are now officially 8,000 refugees and perhaps tens of thousands more who cannot or will not return to their homes. See below for details, and go here to help. -- Gary

Thursday Morning:

The earthquake crisis is FAR FROM OVER in Puerto Rico. In fact, the recovery really cannot begin until the earthquakes stop. And they just don't seem to stop. 

The island was hit by another earthquake early yesterday morning. And the people here are simply afraid that the next shaking will cause their homes to crumble, so they won't return to their homes. 

+ + 8,000 refugees, "psychological torture"

One official estimate indicates there are 8,000 refugees from the earthquakes. But that number is just the tip of the iceberg because it doesn't count those who are sleeping in tents in local parks, or on the side of the street, or even outside their own homes. One report says there have been as many as 40,000 people camping outside their homes in the city of Ponce alone. We hear reports that people will run into their homes, gather a few things, and then run out for fear of another earthquake. One person close to the situation called it "psychological torture."

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