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Bladen Charge opens their hearts to Hurricane Matthew victims in Lumberton 

Almost one year later, there are victims of Hurricane Matthew who still remain housed in hotels or other forms of temporary housing. The Bladen Charge held their Revival called Love Out Loud this past weekend. Besides a time of coming together in worship, the churches of the Bladen Charge performed service projects during the weekend.

Bladen Charge Pastor Brock Meyer said, “We are a community desiring to actually Live Out Loud. It was on our heart to serve our community and serve the community surrounding us who are hurting.”

The scriptural basis for the event was Mark 10:42-45 which reads: “ Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

One of the service projects was to collect household items for eight families impacted by Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton.  All three churches of the Bladen Charge — Live Oak, Bethlehem and Windsor— accepted donations of household items for Victims of Hurricane Matthew and delivered them to Chestnutt Street UMC in Lumberton on Saturday, Sept. 9th, 2017. The supplies which were gathered will assist eight families as they transition to their permanent homes.

In Lumberton, numerous homes were destroyed during Hurricane Matthew. Some of the displaced families are slowly beginning to return to their repaired or newly constructed homes. Ann Wade, Site Manager with the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church in Lumberton, said there are currently 5,000 families who remain displaced in Robeson County. She said of those who have returned home, many houses have not been repaired. The storm victims simply returned home.

Wade said in addition to the 5,000 families who remain displaced,  there are still others who have decided they will not be returning. The storm victims have either moved to other states or have moved to other counties in North Carolina.

“This was the most amazing donation. The words fail me,” said Wade of the items the Bladen Charge gathered.

She said the families will be shocked when they receive the donations. “It was above and beyond,” said Wade.

According to Joy Warren, a member of Bethlehem UMC, the idea for the Household Shower was sparked when one of the members at Bethlehem happened to be in a restaurant in Lumberton where Ann Wade and the NC Conference of UMC team were meeting regarding Hurricane Matthew victims.

“He went over to their table and introduced himself and asked if our church might be able to help. He gave her contact information to me and I made contact with her,” said Warren. “They were working with families who were in the process of rebuilding homes and they had about 8 families who did not have any money left after construction to purchase anything to put in the house. Our UMW group decided to take this on as a project for our Love Out Loud Community Service project.”

Warren said it was decided to involve all three churches and ask for donations of new items for 8 families.

“We were overwhelmed by the response from our churches. Live Oak UMC just recently was able to get back into their church.  After suffering mold damage several months after Hurricane Matthew, they held a fundraiser to get enough money for the clean up,” said Warren.

She added, “The Lord provided more than enough money and they were able to get back to their building in June. They decided they wanted to help others that were affected, so they purchased enough items for the families, including pots/pans, dishes, bedding, kitchen items, toasters, and bathroom items.”

Pastor Brock Meyer said Live Oak UMC has about 30 members who attend services. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a big church or a small church, everybody has a place to serve,” said Pastor Meyer.

Windsor and Bethlehem churches also donated kitchen and bathroom items to cover all 8 families.  A group from the Bladen Charge delivered a trailer full of love to the Chestnutt Street UMC which is serving as headquarters for the UMC Disaster Relief for Robeson County.

“Kathy was the team member who met us for the delivery. She was overwhelmed with the amount of items we delivered. She shared with us that the majority of families were elderly people on limited incomes and just could not afford to purchase the items on their own. She said they would be so surprised by our donations. Kathy said they have not had good response to the needs in Robeson County and there continues to be so many that are still suffering from Hurricane Matthew,” said Warren.

There are still needs to be fulfilled in Robeson County from Hurricane Matthew. Wade said they have had numerous requests for Prayer Shawls and Prayer Blankets. She said a group from New Jersey had donated 30 Prayer Blankets but they were geared mostly for children. Wade said there are many elderly families who have needs remaining.

There are also needs remaining for such necessities as toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies, said Wade.

If your church or civic group would like to help, Ann Wade can be reached at 919-441-0735

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