Showers of Blessings?
Showers of Blessings?
I am writing this newsletter from my hotel room in Huron, South Dakota. As I look out the window it is raining again, the last thing this town needs.
I came here to perform three nights of dinner theater–a fundraiser for James Valley Christian School. The school is located along the banks of the James River which is currently about 10 ft. above flood stage. I experience a bit of deja vu, as it was just last year that I lost my own office due to flooding.
The day before I arrived the school was evacuated as volunteers began filling sandbags, working furiously to repair and reinforce a leaking dike. Governor Bill Janklow of South Dakota flew in by helicopter. He ordered in the National Guard and inmates from the prison to work around the clock to save the school. That was Wednesday, it is now Saturday… they are still working and the river has not crested.
The dinner theater has gone on without a hitch. It was to have been held in the gymn at the school but had to be moved to one of the churches in town. This was no easy task–but the town rallied together to make it happen. The the entire gymn had been decorated in a giant murral depicting the town of Raymond, the setting for In His Steps. This was transfered to a church fellowship hall. Huron University volunteered their kitchen to prepare the food for the almost 900 who would attend the presentations.
The school has held a dinner theater for several years as their fundraiser. Normally it is a big production with a cast of 20 to 30 people. This year they decided to take a break and bring in someone else to do the program. One of the committee members read about me in Guideposts and made contact.
God’s divine intervention is so obvious to them now. Had they tried to do the full scale productions of past years the relocation would have been a major obstacle. But even more encouraging is that the message of In His Steps is a powerful affirmation to these people who are a living answer to the challenge of the story: What would Jesus do?
The Lord has been lifted up through this whole ordeal. Some are fighting exhaustion and the stress of the situation is evident. Yet, instead of tempers flaring and a host of complaints people are smiling and remarkably upbeat. The example of the people of this community has made an impact on so many, including me, The Governor has noticed, the prison inmates have noticed. They have turned a disaster into an opportunity to share Christ’s love with others.
Sunday, April 6
As I began my performance last night the rain had turned to snow. The wind was picking up and before the evening ended we were in the middle of a South Dakota blizzard with winds clocking over 70 miles per hour. The wind was blowing to the north causing white capped waves to come crashing into the dike protecting the school. To the people of Huron it was like the punchline to a cruel joke
This morning as the blizzard continues to rage, I am to perform at a Sunday morning worship at one of the churches in town. Most of the churches have cancelled their services, yet mine is still on. I perform Pillars for a group of 15 gracious people. The latest word is that the dike is still holding. Later that day, as the blizzard is dying down, I go to get a bite to eat at the local Pizza Hut. Someone recognizes me from the dinner theater: “Did you hear about the school?” they ask.
“No,” I reply.
“The dike broke and the school is now under 7ft of water.”
The people invite me to sit with them. They are remarkably positive in the midst of this news. They are closely connected to the school yet seem to take this news in stride.
One could certainly ask all kinds of theological questions here: Why? Did God cause this to happen? Or did He just allow it? Could God have prevented it? I think I’ll let the theologians figure it out.
Me? I am struck again by the attitude of these people–they are far from hopeless. I am reminded that “all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord.” There is a line in In His Steps that seems quite fitting. Henry Maxwell is talking about God’s love as being “tangible–in one of the only ways it really can be–through our actions.”
Tomorrow, if I can get to the airport, I’ll fly home. But I will remember Huron, S.D. as a place where I saw a tremendous demonstration of God’s love lived out.Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 0 comments