LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
November 10, 2012 by William H. Scare, Jr.
My daughter, Grace, called last evening (Sunday) to tell us the electricity was back on in Belmar, New Jersey, where she pastors Calvary Baptist Church. When the devastating storm hit the East Coast Grace was visiting us here in Tampa and couldn’t get back to Belmar until Friday evening. She had planned to return on Wednesday, but the Atlantic City Airport was shut down. She was hoping the electricity stayed on since the road ahead for the Christian community in Belmar is daunting.
Belmar is in North Jersey, near Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. It is close to the center of the Sandy’s land fall. Their boardwalk is now one block inland. All the shops and hotels along the ocean front are gone. The ocean reached into three block of the residential area. Many of the homes are damaged beyond repair, and others are unlivable for the near future. Fortunately Calvary Baptist Church is seven blocks from the shore as is the parsonage where Grace and her husband live.
All but two of the churches in Belmar were destroyed and this likely puts Calvary Baptist at the center of the Christian effort to relieve the immediate stress and the long term reconstruction. They are faced with an almost empty food pantry and a quandary as to how they can be most helpful within their ability to serve.
To add to the existing wreckage in the town a serious nor’easter is scheduled to hit the coast of New Jersey Tuesday. By the time you read this that storm will have made its impact.
Those of us who are Christians do not ask whether we should help in such recovery efforts, we simply ask, “How?” Jesus taught us to exercise love for our neighbors. The Samaritan in Jesus’ well known parable did not ask whether the bleeding victim on the Jericho road was a Samaritan or a Judean. He simply did what he could to help.
This attitude has affected our culture in the United States. Christian or not, most of our people assume they are morally obligated to help if they can. The United States is the most charitable nation on the face of the earth. However, we need to look around and see who doesn’t think this way. It is not an attitude that comes naturally to individuals or cultures. It has a source, and if the spring from which it flows dries up so will the streams of mercy.
Needless to say Dad is concerned about the task ahead for Calvary Baptist and their Pastor. We will be praying for wisdom and the equipping of congregation and Pastor by both God and the sources of help he might provide through people who want to get involved. There are many similar stories all along the East Coast. This one is the one I know about and in which I have a personal investment.
If there is anyone out there who wants more information on how to help I have the Pastor’s cell phone number. Simply send me an email and I’ll be glad to pass it along.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org).