The following testimony has been adapted from an email to Western Region pastors. We received persmission to edit it and post it here on the F&F Blog.
This morning it felt a lot different waking up in Jamestown; we were back in a world that was secure, safe and was home. In a way I feel guilty for being home. I don’t know why but going through the floods in Fargo and Grand Forks in 97 didn’t feel as it did in Minot, even though I helped in similar ways. Maybe it was because we had a state and nation rallied behind our two towns out on the eastern edge of North Dakota. I don’t know exactly why I felt the way I did in Minot, but as the days wore on I felt at times a sense of hopelessness.
Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Brethren church has one hundred homes on its waiting list and the number is growing. Steve (a man from my church) and I were the only crew going out for two days in a row. Devastation was epidemic everywhere we looked around the river. Steve and I ministered to and cried with a lot of people. My heart broke for the pastors of Minot who were wrenched with grieving every time another parishioner came for hope and help.
We are Family, our brothers and sisters in Minot need us to come and come now, please consider giving up a weekend at the lake, or a day or two at work. Please consider being the hands and feet of Christ for hurting people in our own denomination. One morning there was a scene I will never forget. In the picture to the left you see a woman named Judy standing next to brother Steve at the Salvation Army truck. Judy was brought to the sight of her home for the first time with Steve and I that morning. When we walked into the house there was an unbearable stench with 3 inches of sewage sludge covering the main floor. The good news was the 6 feet of sewage sludge water that was on the main floor had gone down in the last few weeks. Judy looked at Steve and I and asked what we do, with tears running down her face. This seemed to be the theme for the week. Every home we went into, the owners stood in shock not knowing where to start.
I looked at Steve and asked, “Where do we begin?” He said, “Grab my twenty pound sledge and knock out her picture window.” The same window that stood from the floor to the ceiling 10-12 feet wide and was her favorite part of the house where the dogs would lie and watch the world outside. Judy loved watching the dogs. With one big swing we began destroying Arv and Judy’s home. At first it was my mission and I tackled it like a warrior would go to war, but as the day wore on we kept hearing the stories of over thirty years of memories being dumped on the front curb in slush piles of human waste. Gramma’s doilies that had been past on through the years were also thrown out with the rest of the trash. How could it be that a 65 year old woman would be sitting out on the curb in this slush pile of memories hoping to save knickknacks and Gramma’s hand-me-downs? Their life savings and memories are now piles in the front yard.
As for me, the once brave warrior became a wounded warrior with every dump looking to promises that are heavenly and not earthly, knowing the replacement home for Arv and Judy is waiting in Heaven. That home will dwarf the house in Minot with pearls, gold and rubies. Last night I challenged people from church to take their mission teams and bible studies to Minot even for two days and go to work. Today I would challenge your bible study or coffee group or even family to go. This would not be a place for small children. Our Redeemer’s Church in Minot will provide food and lodging. We bring work clothes and rubber boots. Men and women can be used, even the youth group from Our Redeemer’s Church is working. I would especially challenge every pastor to go and give some time to this great need before us.
In Christ’s name; Pastor Shawn Bowman
Victory Lutheran Brethren
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