SC Flood a Miracle to Survivor

 In Disaster Relief, Frontpage
Julia Bell

Julia Bell is a freelance writer who loves to put words to the story of how God is at work. She also teaches music in her church's weekday preschool program, and loves a good day trip to The Biltmore Estate. Julia lives in Lexington with her husband Ed, and two children.

Cots set up during the flood

Cots set up during the flood

Andrea’s life was unraveling last October. The young mother found herself in a difficult relationship, carrying years of emotional hurts, and addicted to prescription pain medication. Then the flood came.

“The flood was a miracle for me. That’s what it took for God to get my attention. Had a Christian not found me when that happened, I know I’d be dead. It’s been amazing what’s happened since then,” she said.

That Christian was Jack Dorn, a member of First Baptist Taylors and a South Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) chaplain. With 11 post-hurricane disaster response trips under his belt, Dorn was assigned to work with survivors of the October flooding in Columbia. Three weeks after the floods, he was asked to serve in an American Red Cross shelter at Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce.

“I saw many trained organizations there from nearby states and heard stories of rescues. It was overwhelming to see the large numbers of volunteers,” he said.

Also, Dorn saw flood survivors grappling with personal loss, including the emotional toll of displacement. As part of a team of DR chaplains from South Carolina and Alabama, he ministered and prayed with people for three days at the shelter. Ten shelter clients made decisions for Christ. While there, Dorn also met Andrea.

By her own admission, Andrea was desperate for God to intervene in her life long before the flood waters swelled. She was a believer, but her lifestyle choices led her to a place of heartbreak.

“When I was alone at the shelter after the flood, I looked up and said, ‘God, it’s me and you now.’ I cried out to Him; and I see, looking back, that He positioned me that way,” she said.

Andrea moved through several shelters in the weeks after the flood, eventually landing at the Trinity Baptist shelter. Dorn described her as distanced and uninterested in talking with chaplains or volunteers at first, but Andrea says she finally allowed others to help her.

A state agency provided Andrea with short-term lodging in a local hotel. Within days, Dorn and his wife presented Andrea with another life-changing opportunity–an application for an inpatient addiction facility in Greenville.

“I began to feel the Holy Spirit moving, and knew that whatever help they were offering, I was ready for. But when I got the application, all I could do was write my name. I felt so ashamed of where I was and knowing someone else would read and know what I had done. I felt like I couldn’t write it on paper,” Andrea said.

In that courageous moment, Andrea made a decision to wade out of the flood waters that had consumed her life and took steps to begin the process of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. While seeking treatment, she feared being in a new city two hours away from her daughter but said she felt God was calling her to obey by taking this step.

Following her 30-day stay at Shepherds Gate in Greenville, Andrea spent three months in their Renewal Program, which she describes as a spiritual boot camp. The next three months were spent at Shalom House in Belton, where she received biblical and psychological counseling.

“My mind and heart were completely renewed. Some deep-seeded roots were pulled out, and God poured Himself into the spaces,” she said.

Today, Andrea has a steady job in cosmetology, her former profession. She regularly attends Celebrate Recovery and is working to regain custody of her child. Also, she is temporarily living with Dorn and his wife, which Andrea calls an answer to prayer.

“I can’t tell you what disciples I live with; all they do is pour God’s love into me every day. Now, I ask God to use me daily to help others,” Andrea said.

For his part, Dorn points back to Disaster Relief for the many ministry opportunities provided in the midst of tragedy.

“It helps us show the love of Christ at a very needy time in people’s lives; that’s why we serve. When people are in crisis and have nowhere to go, trained Southern Baptist relief workers are there,” he said.

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