NewSong team delivers community donations to Moore, Oklahoma
After a tornado devastated the community of Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20, Pastor Tom Hawkins, of NewSong Community Church, knew that he wanted to do something, so he put the matter to prayer. Soon, one of the church leaders broached the subject of a relief mission to the area.
“So we put the word out on Facebook and in the newspaper and so many people stepped up with supplies,” said Hawkins.
At the same time, the church received a call from a donor who wished to remain anonymous.
“They said they would pay for a 20-foot U-Haul if we would drive it down there,” Hawkins said. “So we had that trailer and our own 12-foot trailer filled with supplies and tools and we headed down Sunday, May 26, after church, driving straight through.”
Hawkins had connections with a church in the Moore area that had turned their facility into a relief center. He was accompanied by Jim Starnes, Levi Blair, and Austin Lewandowski from this area.
“They were so organized, and people could come and get what they needed,” he said. “What was also amazing were the people who came from all over the country bringing things like Bobcats and other equipment.” Another surprise was how a Wal-Mart parking lot had also been transformed, with a Tide trailer allowing people to wash their clothes, a claims center, portable showers available and meals served all day.”
Hawkins said he was taken aback by the total devastation and loss.
“My first thought in looking at entire neighborhoods that were flattened was, ‘Why didn’t more people die?’” he said. “You’d look at an area where not a single vertical board was left standing.”
While he originally thought the team would just drop off the supplies and leave, the men stayed to do what they could. They had some equipment with them and helped cut down trees and clear debris.
“This just seems to be a kind of mission that God has placed us in, and we want to do it,” Hawkins said, adding that now that NewSong has a permanent facility, its trailer has been freed up and can go wherever needed.
While there, Hawkins had a chance to interview some families and journaled about their experiences. The group had taken a cash donation from this community and worked with a church to find a needy recipient and were led to a woman who had just moved to Moore to meet the requirements of a special-needs child. Two weeks after moving there, the family had lost everything.
“We were able to be a silent partner for her to have that money, and she was just in tears,” he said.
He talked to other families as well, two who had lost everything in a tornado that came through in 1999 and now faced the same loss.
“The optimism of the people I talked to who had just lost everything was absolutely inspiring,” he said. “They weren’t griping or complaining, it was all positive. They all said what they’d lost were just material things. Their families’ lives were most important.”
The team also had an opportunity to view two different kinds of shelters that could be used during a storm. One was in a garage and looked very small.
“It had metal doors over the top,” Hawkins said. “My guys got inside it but I didn’t want to.” Even in the retelling he said he was “flipping out” just thinking about how small it was in there and how the rubble of a downed home could end up on top of it. But the units can be lifesavers in areas prone to storms.
“There was another kind that’s bermed partly in the ground and away from the house,” he said. “I think I’d prefer that kind.”
Hawkins said there were a lot of people in this community who made donations, either in relief supplies or cash, and he was touched by the outpouring of love from this area, as well as from across the country.
“I love getting to be the one who’s able to be the bearer of the gift and see people receive it,” he said. “It’s very humbling. This was a reminder of the giving nature of folks when other people are in need.”