The Minnesota Disaster Relief Project was a grass roots effort that was started by a father (Alan Nagel) whose son (Matt Nagel) was going on a hurricane relief project from his college. Since it was a students-only trip, he decided, through his church in Cokato, MN to organize his own relief trip. Within days of announcing the trip to his church, he was interviewed by the local paper and an avalanche of interest, volunteers and support started flooding in. The trip was coordinated with the Crown College students’ trip, creating a caravan of two large enclosed trailers full of equipment and donations, two buses, an RV, and a van, carrying 32 people.
The actual effort in Mississippi was (and still is) organized by Christian Life Church, of the Christian Missionary Alliance. Every day since three days after the hurricane hit, they have been working there and mobilizing groups of volunteers that come from all around the country.
After our group from Minnesota saw the vast devastation and overwhelming need, there was a deep desire to not stop with just one week of work. Thirty-two volunteers can clean up one yard and gut one house in a day, but thirty-some volunteers with a couple of Bobcats could clean up entire neighborhoods. At the end of March, we completed our fifth trip to Waveland with four consecutive waves of volunteers. We were able to bring two Bobcats to the area to clear debris and destroyed homes, as well as working on reconstruction of homes.
One of the older gentlemen we helped said that for four months, he watched various trucks and other vehicles drive back and forth, but there was no one to help him. He had lost hope. He had done a lot of work himself, but was overwhelmed with what needed to be done – with no outside help and no insurance. After we had cleared out his yard, he said “This was the best Christmas present I’ve ever received,” as all 32 of us circled around him to pray for him and his family.
No words can describe the experience we had. The chance to bless those who have lost everything – even hope – is worth every one of the 2,600 miles it took to drive there and back. Please prayerfully consider what part God might have you play in this effort to expand His Kingdom by demonstrating outrageous love to those in great need.
“It was great to work with people who care; people who believe they can change the world by doing one act of kindness at a time. The scenes we witnessed each day bore little resemblance to Christmas back home in snowy Minnesota. However, it was time to celebrate the birth of God’s only Son, whose birth and death would reconcile us to Almighty God. As Christians, our response to that gift took us all the way to Camp Katrina.” – Robert McElfatrick, volunteer