By the Rev. Paula Stover
From the time I arrived at Lamar United Methodist Church, the thing that most stood out to me was the generosity of the people. They care for their brothers and sisters in this world lavishly. So when Marilyn Lawhon, chair of Lamar’s Missions Committee, asked me on a Monday afternoon what I thought about collecting some gently used clothing to send to those affected by the flooding in Kentucky I said “go for it.” Her son, who lives in Lexington, had participated in a mission work group in the area that was most affected, and she wanted to ask a few people to go through their closets and thin out so she could load up her car and take the things to him the next week.
Before Sunday even came around and I could put the request before the congregation in worship, we had more than we could get in her vehicle and she came back to me.
“Pastor, this is bigger than me,” she said. “Now we will wait and see how God is going to make a way to get this to Kentucky.”
By that Sunday evening we had so much we knew we needed to find a truck going that way or rent one and drive it up there. But where could we find one? We had hoped to get the items to her son who knew of a church going up that way, but we had way too much for them to take and they were not going as soon as we felt like it needed to move.
We prayed and asked God to get it to whoever needed these things to get back on their feet. Marilyn kicked into gear on Google and made contact with United Methodist Mountain Mission in Jackson, Kentucky, who said they desperately needed gently used clothing and housewares, and we had some that were still in boxes and with tags on them. Everything we collected we would have worn or used ourselves.
I called the Rev. Millie Smith, the director of Connectional Ministries for the South Carolina Conference of the UMC, and asked if there was a disaster relief crew headed that way that might take the items with them. There was a group going the next week, and she put us in touch with Billy Robinson.
The first response was that they did not have room in their trailers because they had to haul equipment up there, but Millie was persistent. She had the idea that perhaps one of them would drive a truck that we would rent for a one-way trip and ride back with the group if they were going close to Jackson.
God made a way. That was the area they were headed to, and Billy agreed to do just that!
Danny Dowbridge, part of the relief team, drove from York County to Lamar UMC on Monday, and we convened a small but mighty team to pack that U-Haul trailer full. After prayers for safe travel and for all those who would receive the items and the love of God as our brothers and sisters, he pulled out with our gift to our neighbors in Kentucky.
We received confirmation on Tuesday that there was a special long-term recovery group meeting at Methodist Mountain Mission that evening, and they were touched that a small rural church in South Carolina would find a way to get them so much that the people needed so desperately.
We were obedient to the call and waited for God to make a way. God did … through the generosity of the people. Thanks be to God.
Stover pastors Lamar UMC, Lamar.