NY 2012

Refuel Ministries

Hurricane Sandy Mission 2012

NY/NJ

 

After Hurricane Sandy reached landfall in November, 2012 I received a phone call from the Church of God International Chaplains office asking if I could get a team together to travel to New York/New Jersey to feed and minister to the people affected by the storm.  I instantly answered “yes” I am willing and will check with my job to make sure I can get the time off to make the trip.  Once I received the approval from work I began calling and seeing who would be willing to go with me.  My team ended up being me and my father (LaVaughn) and we teamed up with TIACSC (The International Association of Community Service Chaplains) based out of Cleveland, TN and a local congregation out of Sylacauga which was led by Bobby Davis. 

My team was driving a truck pulling a 24’ mobile cooking trailer equipped to feed 1400 people at a time and Bobby’s team could cook for up to 2000 at a time.  The plan was for us to drive up to Long Island and split up during the day to feed at two locations.

We met the team from Sylacauga in Inverness on Highway 280 here in Birmingham to be interviewed by Fox6 News before we were to leave and realized the truck they were driving needed all new tires.  We went to a local tire store and they immediately took the truck in and replaced the whole set and put in a new battery as well.  This was the first delay of the trip and wasn’t the last for either of us.

Once the truck was ready we left Birmingham headed to Long Island, NY.  All was going well until we got to Chattanooga, TN at which time my truck began running abnormal and I had to have it checked by the local Ford dealership (Mountain View Ford).  Since it was 5:05 p.m. all mechanics had left and we would have to stay overnight and they assured us they would look at my truck first thing in the morning which they did.  That night I prayed for favor with anyone who would be involved in getting my truck back in running condition.  It was determined that the turbo on my diesel truck quit performing and would have to be replaced.  It would be a $2000.00 item.  I had purchased an extended warranty on the truck and after the manager, chief diesel mechanic and I argued with the warranty company they finally agreed to cover the cost minus my $100 deductible and another $100 for a hose that needed replaced.  (God’s grace/favor #1)

After lunch we were back on the road alone after us telling the other two vehicles in our convoy to proceed without us.  We got in touch with Steve Wallace from the TIACSC in Cleveland, TN and were able to meet with them and travel together.  Now there were 3 trucks pulling trailers travelling in our group.  We stopped in Knoxville, TN to coordinate our routes because the other 2 trucks/trailers needed to travel to London, KY to pick up supplies and would try to meet back with us later that night.  As we were talking I noticed one of my new tires on my trailer was totally bald and had the steel radials showing.  As I replaced it I noticed it wasn’t totally lined up with the front tire (I have a tandem axle trailer).  Once they departed we drove to a local camper store and had them look at it.  It was determined my rear axle was bent and had the tire turned out 1 inch out of line.  They were unable to help so we had to stay the night in Knoxville, TN to find someone to help the next day.

As I was sitting in the hotel room thinking about where we were and what had already transpired on this trip I received a PM from someone and began reading it.  The following is what it said (copied and pasted just as it was written):

“Darrin,

I may be 100% off base for saying this, but I’ve had a feeling since you said you were headed to the storm area that you weren’t supposed to go.  I hope I haven’t offended you… because I would never want to do that, but it’s just a gut feeling I had.  I hope you guys are okay.  Let me know if you need me to bring the Corolla and haul you guys home!”

Though we had already experienced several issues on this early trip the thought of turning around never came to either of our minds.  I did question what all the obstacles meant but never questioned whether or not we were doing what God wanted us to do.  We had a peace about this mission which wouldn’t change throughout the trip.  I posted on Facebook, as we travelled, and I received many positive and uplifting messages except for the one above.   As I was reading this and gathering my thoughts, my dad asked what just happened to his phone.  I informed him I had no idea since he was the one holding it.  He had been writing a journal on his I-phone in the notes application and below is what he typed:

Steve supposed to meet us in Virginia tonight but we won’t be out of Knoxville. Darrin and I are going to eat at Outback and relax!

Steve has a lot of our weight and problem with tire wasn’t even weight. Don’t tell him though.

It will be interesting to see who gets to NY first. By the way Freddie Edwards flew to NY today and there is no one from Alabama to cook.  God is good!

Below is how it ended up after (I truly believe) God inserted a message to dispel what I had just received on my phone.  Notice it dropped “God is good” to the bottom.

Steve supposed to meet us in Virginia tonight but we won’t be out of Knoxville. Darrin and I are going to eat at Outback and relax!

Steve has a lot of our weight and problem with tire wasn’t even weight. Don’t tell him though.

It will be interesting to see who gets to NY first. By the way Freddie Edwards flew to NY today and there is no one from Alabama to cook.  “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

God is good!

 

I highlighted in red what was inserted into what Dad had typed.  The quotes were even in the message.  (God’s grace/favor #2)

When I got up the next morning I was praying, once again, for favor and for God to find us a way to get the trailer repaired and allow us to once again get on the road for New York.  I went to my I-phone and looked for local companies and called one that looked promising.  He informed me he couldn’t work on it until the next day but would look at it to see what needed to be done.  I drove to Trailer Specialist (whose owner was named Jerry) and after explaining what we were doing Jerry told me he would have us back on the road that day no matter what it took.  As he called it we were doing “God’s work” and he would make sure nothing stopped us there.  After about an hour of looking for an axle both locally as well as trying to use one on a trailer in his lot we were unsuccessful in finding a replacement.  Without hesitation, he purchased a trailer himself from a customer who had one on his lot, and had his men transfer my equipment from my trailer to the one he just purchased to loan me for the trip.  (God’s grace/favor #3)

He offered me a generator to use as well as anything else I might need.  I asked him to do a thorough check on my trailer and repair/replace anything he felt needed to be done and I would pay him on the return from NY.  He then told me again that I was doing “God’s work” and that he wouldn’t allow me to pay for anything.  He would cover any costs associated with the repairs and he would also upgrade my new axle from a 3500 lb. to a 4500 lb. to keep anything from happening again.  (God’s grace/favor #4)  He handed me the paperwork for the tag and also put $200 in the envelope to help with travelling costs. (God’s grace/favor #5)   Once again we were one our way.  We were able to meet up with the other 2 trucks and travel the rest of the trip with them. 

By now you see how God’s grace/favor played such a huge part of our trip.  There are many more times throughout this trip we saw God’s grace/favor played out.  We arrived the day after the snow storm arrived and didn’t see any travel issues caused by ice and snow.

We finally made it to Long Island, NY and helped the Sylacauga team serve food they had cooked and cleaned up and packed their equipment for the night.  We were asked if our team would be willing to relocate to other parts of NY/NJ to feed and minister to people there.  That night we drove to Brooklyn/Bronx and cooked/served the following day.  We cooked for the locals as well as cooking a separate pot of chili to be carried into Jersey Shore to feed those who weren’t willing to leave their homes. 

We fed in different locations throughout the time we were there and ministered and gave out marbles to signify Jesus’ blood to people we spoke with.  We ended our trip by cooking in New Jersey before heading home.  It was an enlightening trip and one I will never forget.  Our prayers continue to go out for the people affected by this storm and to those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and our prayer is that the “Alabama Gang” as we were called, made a difference in at least one life while we were there. 

We were able to make this trip and feed people because of the donations of many people who were willing to sacrifice their financial support as well as lifting us up in prayer as we endured the obstacles we had to climb.  Everyone who went were volunteers and gave up vacation and personal time to be there.

Below are the numbers I’ve figured that were the result of our mission to New York/New Jersey:

 

2200 miles driven round trip (per vehicle)

11 volunteers travelled

6000-7000 people served hot meals (cooked southern style)

Many people counseled and ministered to

Please continue praying for Refuel Ministries to be a blessing to those in need, and to show the love of Christ in all that we do.