The eye of Hurricane Matthew is expected to be over Holly Hill, Fla., on Friday. We have a church there, First United Brethren Church, located not far from the Atlantic Ocean. On Thursday morning, Pastor Matt McKeown (right) was asked about what they are doing as the hurricane approaches. Matt’s father, Chuck, and brother, Josh, are also on staff at the church. Here is Matt’s response.
We are not leaving. We don’t feel we have the right or privilege to do so. We as pastors and as a ministry family need to be here to help when the storm goes through. We are keenly aware that we could lose everything and we are reminded of Job: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I’ve not been a part of a storm this powerful hitting us this directly. The closest thing to it in my experience was in 2004 when three named storms hit us back to back beginning with Hurricane Charlie. People were without power for a couple weeks.
The damage will be big, to people’s property and spirits. Tensions and tempers will run high. Supplies are already low, and October is still too early in Florida to be without air conditioning. Who knows but the Mighty One of Israel how bad it will be. We will be there for the hurting and the hungry, and we will rebuild what is damaged. We will adjust. We will survive. God’s people always do.
Some of us have been gathering to study and pray the prayers in the siddur (the Jewish prayer book) in the mornings as men, and it was pointed out that we pray “You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall” every day. This great power coming toward us is nothing compared to the power of our God. Neither is it anything that cannot be stilled by the words of our Savior.
God created these powerful systems. He is great and mighty to save. The same power that can cause the winds to blow is the same power that will strengthen us as we pick up the pieces. It is times like this when we have the opportunity to make our actions match our faith. May we and all believers be Christ to the ones in need of help in our areas as this storm does whatever it will do. Pray that we will be a light in the coming darkness.
We also have a church in Port Orange, not far to the south and also on the coast. The pastor of Faith UB church is Gary Vanderveen.
Please keep pastors Chuck, Matt, Josh, and Gary in your prayers–not only as the hurricane hits Thursday night and Friday, but for many days afterwards as they pick up the pieces and minister to people in need.