I want to share with you the latest on what's happening in the Bahamas. This is one of the most devastating tragedies I've ever seen. The people we met yesterday have lived through a horrific nightmare. Now they face a seemingly impossible task of rebuilding their lives. Here are a few of those stories. --Gary
Yesterday, we flew to Grand Bahama where we met with several pastors and got an even more up close and personal look at the devastating physical and emotional impact of this storm.
First, the destruction is everywhere. We saw concrete structures built to sustain hurricane-force winds that were decimated by the winds and the rising waters.
It was shocking to see. What gripped our hearts the most was hearing story after story of tragic loss of life and heart-wrenching survival. Here are just a few of the stories...
The pastors we were with had already participated in several funerals on the island yesterday. One pastor shared about a couple he had met and led to faith in Jesus in May. In June, they were married. Today, he performed their funerals as they both lost their lives in Dorian. His heart was broken, but he is thankful for the promise of eternity and is trusting God that even in this difficult time, all things work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
We met a husband and wife at what remains of their house and heard their story. Just one year ago, they had moved into their home. When Dorian struck, the water rose so high that they went to their attic just to survive and were trapped there for three horrific days and two nights. They contacted loved ones and told them they weren't going to make it. By a miracle of God, rescuers found them, and they are grateful just to be alive. They don't have any insurance that will rebuild their home, but they have their lives.
We heard another story of seven people who were trapped for two days in their attic. They called rescue workers and dropped a GPS "pin" to help rescuers find their location. The rescuers told them that it couldn't be correct because it showed that they were in the ocean. In fact, they were surrounded by the ocean and trapped. They somehow escaped with their lives.
One of the pastors we met, who is working tirelessly to bring relief supplies to Grand Bahama, told us his house was destroyed, and his family still has seven people missing. They are praying to find their family members, but their houses were destroyed. They are beginning to lose hope.
The crisis here is still almost beyond description. One pastor told us that one of the biggest needs is helping people cope with the trauma. The loss of life, destruction of property and an ever-present state of crisis have left so many with sleepless nights and an urgent need for emotional and spiritual counseling -- on top of practical support in food, water and a safe place to stay.
I am determined that Mercy Chefs will help provide relief to those who are still struggling so much on the front-lines of this storm here on Grand Bahama Island. Now that power is being restored in Freeport (the main city on Grand Bahama Island), we are aggressively scouting for a kitchen location to support the rebuilding efforts here. We are also looking for a location that can house work teams. Because of the devastation and the fact that these islands are isolated from resources, the logistical challenges of bringing relief teams here are enormous.
I expect to share with you more details on our plans soon -- in the next 24 to 48 hours. Simply put, as we finalize a direction, we will need friends like you to stand with us and partner with us to make it happen. For today, PLEASE PRAY for those here who have suffered so greatly. Pray for the pastors and counselors who are helping with the grief and trauma. And pray for very clear open doors for Mercy Chefs to help fill the gaps here.
Thank you so much for your faithful partnership with us, and God bless you.
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs
P.S. Again, I hope to share with you our specific outreach plan for Grand Bahama Island in the next 24 to 48 hours. And we certainly can use your financial support. This week alone, we served over 25,000 meals, and we're now getting ready to launch a new outreach on the front-lines of Dorian's strike. If you can help today, thanks in advance and go here to make your tax-deductible gift:
P.P.S. We prayed with many of the folks here, including the couple who survived the harrowing three days in their attic as they waited for rescuers to come. Thanks for your prayers as we continue to help those who are still in urgent need here.