By Elizabeth Murray
I spent my 27th birthday in a way I never would have expected. I spent my birthday, which was the Tuesday of the week of flood, with the youth and some of the pastors of Mount Hebron United Methodist Church.
We set up a prayer station at the Wal-Mart on Garners Ferry in Columbia, one of the National Guard water distribution stations. We offered prayer and handed out prayer booklets to people leaving the water line. I was able to offer some prayer and support to any Spanish-speaking people with whom we came in contact. It was a life-giving and humbling experience for me, for sure.
There has been a lot of question about how the Hispanic/Latino community is receiving care during a time of devastation. I do want to note that there are a lot of Hispanic/Latino people who are contributing to the cause to help their neighbors in need. However, there are also a lot of Hispanic/Latino people who were affected by the flood and are in need.
There is also an element of fear that the Hispanic/Latino community can have toward receiving help, especially from the federal government. We, as the body of Christ, are called to care for all people by helping them find the available resources.
This is a time when our communities are coming together to help those in need. We saw churches, nonprofits, sports teams and neighbors come together instantly to help each other. To see people help one another is inspiring and encouraging. We are in a pivotal time to be able to extend help and hospitality to everyone in need—and that means everyone.
In the past few days, I have seen mainstream news stations in the Midlands broadcast in Spanish to make sure all local residents were able to receive the information accurately. Nonprofits are opening their services to everyone, even those they would not normally serve because of issues of insufficient documentation. During times of devastation, the barriers that once previously could have divided us are torn down. People are concerned with helping those who are in need, regardless of what language they speak, where they came from or any other factor that separates people from one another.
People in and out of the state have commented on how our state has handled the flood and that we are “number one in people.” As we find our “new normal” in our state, let us continue that compassion and generosity to one another that we have seen this month.
The Hispanic/Latino Task Force of the annual conference is here as a resource for you. We have resources available in Spanish, as well. If you know of Hispanic/Latino people who need assistance or who are interesting in assisting with the flood relief, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.