Monday, September 18, 2017

A Chance to Serve

Post by: Reid Lester

Four hours into a five-hour flight, we’ve been battling turbulence on the edge the gulf coast.  I’m in the back seat of a small Cessna with my camera hanging out the window.  I’ve been battling the wind and bumpy air while taking more than 2,100 photos of the devastation. 

This past week I flew to Texas with the Civil Air Patrol to assist in search and rescue missions for Hurricane Harvey.  Witnessing the damage every day was difficult.  We saw houses demolished by the winds while the house next door was left undamaged.

As we circled high above, my crew started asking each other if there was more we could do than just taking pictures.  We spend our free time training for this exact situation.  What could we do to help the people we saw below us?  It’s personal for me.  When I serve on an aircrew after a disaster, I feel like I’m making a difference in a tangible and permanent way, but it still feels like it’s not enough.

We landed at Aransas County airport in Rockport, TX to take on fuel, and that is when we got up close and personal with the damage.  The airport hadn’t had running water in days.  As I waited for the fuel truck, I walked around the airport and surveyed the damage.  There were collapsed buildings and totaled cars everywhere.  People were sitting in the lounge of the remaining building just staring out the windows.

My crew got a chance to talk with some of the people who lost everything.  We asked them what they needed and I was surprised by the answer.  I assumed what they would need most was money or supplies, or help replacing all the things they lost.  Instead, they asked for more people to come and help.  They expect the cleanup and rebuilding process to takes a minimum of nine months to a year.  They told us the news coverage would soon change as Hurricane Irma got closer to Florida.  They asked us to keep praying for them.  Their biggest fear now, was as the water receded and the rebuilding process began, they would soon be forgotten.

I promised them I wouldn’t let our church forget.  I told them we were going to try and organize a Spring mission trip to come back to TX and help with the rebuilding.  They said we would be welcome and much needed.  We talked a little about what BUMC currently does for missions.  I asked them why with all the devastation around them, they cared about what was happening in Broomfield, CO?  Then they surprised me again.  One of the older men told me that he has seen this before.  “Everyone will want to find a way to serve, because in major disasters, people feel helpless when they see the devastation on TV.  Not everyone will be able to join a mission trip to TX.”  He asked me to encourage our church to engage in our own community.  “When someone asks what they can do, point them to a local food bank or shelter.  Let people know how important it can be when they volunteer.”

I told them about all the ways we serve our community both locally and globally.  We believe that each person can make a difference in someone’s life.  We offer so many chances to serve because we want everyone to find the way they best fit in God’s plan.  Some of our service opportunities like becoming an advocate for abused and neglected children, or becoming a Stephen Minister require a good deal of training and a large time commitment, but give you the chance to change an individual’s life forever.  Some opportunities like volunteering at FISH, attending a social justice talk, or ushering, only take a small commitment, but give those who serve a chance to make a difference every time the volunteer.  BUMC also offers mission trips through our partners.  Just this year, people have gone to Haiti, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Chicago.  Next year we hope to offer a Spring mission trip to the Houston area.  These trips offer an incredible chance for dedicated service over a short period of time. 

As we sit and watch those affected by the hurricanes, we will feel the need to make things better.  We want to make a difference.  If you’ve been inspired by the events of the past few weeks, and you want to make a difference, we can help you find a way to serve.

For more information on ways you can serve through BUMC check out

Reid Lester is the Director of Servant Ministries at Broomfield United Methodist Church.  Reid’s job is to help people find ways to serve our Church and the community through our Church Ministries and our Community Partnerships.  Reid and his wife RuthAnn have been attending BUMC for 2 years.  When Reid isn’t at BUMC he serves as a pilot for the Civil Air Patrol.  Reid also umpires Division 1 baseball for the NCAA.

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