I ONCE READ AN ARTICLE BY DR. JEREMIAH BASED ON THE APOSTLE PAUL’S LIFE, ENTITLED “PRINCIPLES FOR ADVERSITY”. IN THE ARTICLE, DR. JEREMIAH EXPLORED SEVEN AREAS WHERE PAUL WAS CONTENT IN ADVERSITY. AS WE’VE GONE THROUGH HURRICANE IAN, WE’VE SEEN EVERY PRINCIPLE AT WORK. BEFORE WE SHARE OUR STORY, WE BELIEVE IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE SHARE PORTIONS OF WHAT DR. JEREMIAH WROTE. IT IS OUR DESIRE THAT YOU WILL READ OUR ACCOUNT AS WELL AS EVERY STORY OF ADVERSITY IN LIGHT OF THESE WONDERFUL TRUTHS FROM THE LIFE OF PAUL WHO WROTE:
FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST, THEN, I AM CONTENT WITH WEAKNESSES, INSULTS, HARDSHIPS, PERSECUTIONS, AND CALAMITIES. FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG. 2 CORINTHIANS 12:10
- Adversity promotes the progress of the gospel. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…” (Philippians 1:12).
- Adversity provides opportunities for witness. “so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:13). Paul, who was chained to guards 24 hours a day for two years of imprisonment had nearly 3000 opportunities for witnessing.
- Adversity produces courage in fellow believers. “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14).
- Adversity proves the character of our friendships. Philippians 1:15-18.
- Adversity brings growth in our lives. “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).
- Adversity purifies our motives. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
- Adversity prepares us to see life and death in perspective. Philippians 1:22-26. Life offers the opportunity to serve the Lord more fully, while death offers the blessings of finally and completely knowing our Savior.
OUR HURRICANE STORY
TWO MPH SHORT OF A CATEGORY 5 STORM, HURRICANE IAN, THE STRONGEST STORM TO EVER HIT FLORIDA, ATTACKED WITH THE POWER TO DESTROY AND CHANGE LIVES FOREVER. WHEREVER WE LOOK, ADVERSITY IS THERE. THE PIECES OF DESTRUCTION, THE BLARE OF GENERATORS AND SIRENS, THE SMELL OF DECAY AND MOLD, THE FEAR OF WALKING ON WHAT WAS ONCE FAMILIAR GROUND, THE LONLINESS OF BEING CUT OFF FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY, IT WOULD TAKE COUNTLESS BOOKS TO TELL THE STORY OF IAN. TO BE HONEST, BY THE SECOND DAY, THE WEIGHT OF IT ALL FELL ON MY SHOULDERS AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, I CRIED. I FELT GUILTY FOR MY TEARS. AFTER ALL, THE ADVERSITY WE EXPERIENCED WAS NOTHING COMPARED TO SO MANY OTHERS. GOD HAD BEEN GOOD TO US.
Pete and I along with our grandson Joel and our dogs left before Ian hit. For 3 days we stayed in Homestead, Florida before heading back home. Since our RV is our home, we were left with minimal damage (plants, our steps and little deck, outdoor furniture–all things that can be replaced). We still don’t know how many lives were lost or how many people are now homeless because of this storm, and I can’t put into words how our hearts grieve for those who have lost so much.
When we returned from Homestead, it was clear that could not pull our RV into our flooded park.
We headed to the nearest Walmart and that became our home. We had no electricity or running water, but we had a place to park our RV that was safe.
We were not alone. We were a community of disaster workers and displaced folks in RV’s, tents, and hammocks stretched out between vehicles.
The weather has been perfect for a day at the beach, sunny and hot with temperatures nearing 90 degrees, just not the perfect weather for living in an RV with no electricity.
Praise God! The kind folks from this company loaned us their extra generator, allowing us to stay cool and enjoy the gift of light at night. We are forever grateful!
Our second night at Walmart, we woke to flashing lights and sirens. The store had caught on fire. Thankfully, it was extinguished before substantial damage took place.
The next day Walmart opened their doors. People stood in line for hours to buy desperately needed food, water, and hygiene supplies. Walmart’s doors were not the only thing that opened…God opened our eyes. We were able to see the parking lot community He had placed us in as our mission field. We were able to provide food, prayer, and the gospel to about 30 folks.
I know 30 is a small number compared to what is needed and what others are doing. But this is where God placed us. And He provided every need. He knew where our supply of Gospel of Johns would go months ago when, out of the funds you provided, we were able to order a generous supply. With every meal a Gospel and walking stick were given away. We were privileged to pray with linemen, disaster response workers, and the displaced.
NEVER HAVE WE FELT MORE JOY!
Pete grilling brats and cooking beans the old-fashioned way. Our grill is tiny, so he kept cooking as long as folks were eating. We also served drinks, candy, chips, fruit salad, and ice cream. On another night God provided the funds to serve pizzas for all.
Two precious young girls from our Walmart community helped us serve. They, along with their mom, grandma, and brother were displaced and living in an older small RV. We met them when we were handing out candy and offering to pray for people. I wish you could have seen their faces when we gave each of them the gospel of John. It’s so important to take advantage of every opportunity God gives us.
Food for body and soul. We thank Jesus for every person He brought into our lives. We would have never met any of these folks had it not been for the adversity of Ian.
The Rock Church in Punta Gorda as well as many other churches and Christian organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and Salvation Army have been used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our part has been small and whatever we gave came back to us, overflowing our hearts with joy. We are grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization as the Fellowship of Christian Farmers who will be sending a Boots on the Ground team down here to help Florida rebuild.
Hurricane Ian brought untold adversity. Along with the adversity came the opportunity to
Spread the gospel
The character of our friendships stood the test.
We grew through adversity.
Our motives to serve were purified.
And through this, we were given the opportunity to serve the Lord more fully, while gaining perspective on the blessing of death for the saved–to live forever with our Savior.
WE ARE GRATEFUL THAT THE AGONY OF IAN GAVE THE FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN FARMERS, INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS, AND MANY CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE JESUS WITH A NEEDY WORLD. THANK YOU FOR THE PART YOU PLAYED BY GIVING AND PRAYING FOR PETE AND I AS WE SERVE HIM WITH FCFI.
Please remember a special couple in prayer. Their names are Dave and Maria. The waterfront community that they managed was destroyed in the hurricane. As of this writing, they are homeless. A week before Hurricane Ian took their home, car, and job, Dave was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. After the hurricane, they were able to borrow a car but ended up in an accident that destroyed the borrowed vehicle. Pete was able to pray with them today and we are praying about what the Lord would have us do. We know the most important thing is for Dave and Maria to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Please pray with us for that to happen.
Also, please keep us in prayer as we leave this week for the Sunbelt Festival in Georgia. It’s our largest event of the year. We are weak and worn. We need His strength to make this trip. Please pray for all the folks who work this event, that God will prepare them and the people we will minister to. Please join us in praising God for the amazing report that Bill Brown is now cancer-free!
Please pray for those who have lost loved ones and homes due to Hurricane Ian. There are so many hurting people right now. Dave and Maria are only one example. We know the One who wipes away every tear and we long to share Him with others.
Thank you for sharing in the ministry with your prayers and gifts. We are so grateful for all you do.
Love You All, Pete and Sandy Singer