Updated: Jul 30
"I call them Divine Moments of how God supplied peoples specific needs after the tornados tore through our town"
MAYFIELD, Ky. — When we arrived in Mayfield, Ky just a couple of months after deadly tornados had torn through this town, we had no idea of what we were going to encounter. We were there to help in any way we could. What we encountered was devastation.
The tornado traveled more than two hundred miles. It hit Mayfield at about 9:30 p.m. on December 10th. Electricity and water were knocked out, and vehicles strewn around the landscape. First-light drone footage of the wreckage showed chaotic scenes of twisted metal and trash and shattered lumber. We couldn’t even identify the remnants of the buildings in downtown Mayfield. Someone who had served as a diplomat in Afghanistan said that the scenes looked even worse than in a war zone.
The storm system that spawned the deadly tornado tore through a handful of states. The National Weather Service recorded 41 tornadoes on Dec. 10 and 11, including 16 in Tennessee and eight in Kentucky. Eighty-one people died in Kentucky alone, state officials said. Thousands found shelter with relatives and friends, or in emergency facilities, hotels, and state parks.
In Mayfield, a candle factory, a nursing home, and government buildings were destroyed. Homes were ripped from foundations and splintered by fierce winds. Crews worked day and night to clear debris and restore power.
Audible evidence of rebuilding in Mayfield has been difficult to miss: the cracking and crashing of excavators breaking apart wood and glass, the beep-beep-beep of heavy machinery reversing, the popping of roofers' nail guns.
While driving through Mayfield, we came to a church, Church of the Nazarene, that had posted that they were a distribution center. We decided to pull in and see if we could help. We met with Pastor Andrea and she said they could use us to take some much-needed supplies to local residents. But before we did, we sat down with her, and she shared several stories with us that can only be dubbed "God Driven."
I want to share these stories of how God is there at ground zero, with his sleeves rolled up, ready to help. There are so many stories to share I will be writing a three-part series on them.
After riding out the violent tornado that devastated their town, Pastor Andrea and her family emerged to devastation stretching for blocks: Crackling power lines, piles of rubble, and calls for help they couldn’t pinpoint in the darkness.
Church of the Nazarene staff and volunteers mobilized to provide whatever they can to help survivors cope with the disaster’s aftermath and stay afloat — gift cards, food, generators, water, a listening ear, and more.
Pastor Andrea said, "We arrived at the church around 8 am and we only had 40 bottles of water and no running water. I prayed and asked God to please make this water last until we can get resupplied. Because no stores were open and everything was shut down. I had just bought a case of water with 40 bottles in it the day before. We started to have people come in and we all went to a nearby pond to fill our buckets with water for the toilets. We put up a sign letting people know that our bathrooms were open.
We also started to have news crews, lineman, and tree removal crews come in as the day went on to use the bathroom and get a bottle of water. And by God's grace, our bottles of water lasted till the next night when we were able to get resupplied. I started crying and praising the Lord for making the water last until we got resupplied. I realized then and there how critical water is when you don't have it.
For the next 4-5 days the church was like a rest stop. People continue to come in and use the bathrooms and get water. We did have people go out into the community to give out these personal care kits. We had a generator running so people were able to charge their cell phones when they came in.
There was a man who came in on a bike who had nothing and wanted to know if he could come into rest and get out of the weather for a bit. We were able to offer him a bowl of soup and crackers. And as we sat there with him to encourage him, another man walks in and says, "I wasn't affected by the tornados but I have some stuff I would like to donate to help those who did." We didn't have the distribution center up and running yet, but I said sure! And what we brought in was a bag of clothes and some food. Now, the man that came in on the bike saw this and asked me if he could go through that bag of clothes. Absolutely, I said. To which, the clothes fit this man perfectly. Praise the Lord! Now within 36 hours of the tornados coming through, people were coming and donating clothes and food. I asked them as they would come in, how did you find out about us and to come here to donate? They all said that God just brought us here. My niece and nephew would be out and about, and they would ask what people needed, and God had already provided beforehand, and we had it available for them as people needed it. I call these Devine Appointments.
Just to give another example of God's Providence, my father-in-law needed sugar-free cough drops. And guess what, they were already here in our donations. That is the God we serve. That help is on the way before we even knew we needed the help."
In the midst of all of this, God was there, and as I continue to tell the stories of Pastor Andrea, we will see how He was there. Pastor Andrea said, "It's been 7 weeks now after the tornadoes destroyed our town. But I have seen miracle after miracle after miracle. Anything that a person needed, God had already provided. There are people who want to help the people here, but they sometimes wonder how can a person like me help such a big problem. But when we received any donation, whether it was some laundry detergent or a gift card, it all helped someone that really needed it. We as a church have not had to purchase anything because of the outpouring of help from around the world. When the news was reported of Mayfield, people started to google Mayfield and churches here on how they could help."
What we learned from this as a mission family, is that as a missionary once told me, "A need seen, is an assignment given." Even though we didn't have much to give of resources, we were able to be Jesus' hands and feet on the ground. We just showed up and asked how can we help. I like to think of it as if this had happened to me and my family, and my community, I would have wanted the same outpouring of love and concern as well.