Devastated Trailer Park Flooded with Love
By Carl Stagner
No doubt about it, snowmelt and heavy rainfall can be a dangerous combination. This winter’s wacky wrath dealt a particularly powerful blow to residents living along the Umatilla River in parts of northeastern Oregon. Rising waters left widespread damage in several neighborhoods in and near the city of Pendleton, prompting government assistance with cleanup and repair. Unfortunately, in the shuffle, Halls Trailer Court fell through the tracks, benefiting from little outside help. As a result, occupants of these mobile homes, from the elderly and disabled to young parents with children, were left with few options and a shortage of hope. Thankfully, the local Church of God congregation heard about the need and could not stand idly by.
Pendleton Church of God utilizes “connection cards” each week to stay in touch with the needs of everyone who walks through their doors. Stacy Lang, one of the congregations relatively new followers of Christ, had alerted the church’s leadership to the flood damage left behind at Halls Trailer Court. While Pastor Nate Jackson and his team began to pray, Stacy probed the possibility of doing something to help. To see what they were getting themselves into, Nate joined a few others from the church to pay a visit to the trailer park. They were astonished at the sight.
“Where to begin?” Nate remarks. “It was overwhelming…. It was as if this pocket of our community had been hit hard, devastated, and left in that state.”
On short notice, Pendleton Church of God scheduled a day of disaster relief for their neighbors in need. Nate hoped ten or so volunteers would show up from the congregation, but cars kept pulling in, bringing the total to nearly fifty by the end of the day.
“It was a huge move of God on their hearts,” Nate reflects.
Though Pendleton Church of God wasn’t in it for the thanks, the victims of flood damage responded with immense gratitude. Though the church wasn’t in it for the acclaim, the local news was soon on the scene. What everyone learned was that Pendleton Church of God didn’t see the Halls Trailer Court as a service project to complete, but neighbors to get to know and love. In the midst of the muddy mess, the volunteers cooked up a barbecue not only to provide fuel for themselves, but also to share with their new neighbors.
“All we were trying to do was be a blessing to that community,” Nate explains. “It was a great opportunity to answer questions of the residents and get to know them. It was so Jesus to hear them and connect them with his love, rather than assume we know what they need most. Oh, the stories—every one of them was unique! The next day, we had six new (unchurched) people with us as a direct result. They were not used to seeing ‘church people’ actually caring enough to do something for them without strings attached.”
The church made plans to return within a couple weeks to, among other projects, reinstall trailer skirting, repair or rebuild fences as needed, and finish cleaning up yards where no one was home the first time. They’re also excited to begin transporting residents to and from church.
For Pendleton Church of God, assisting the trailer park was only one of several ways the congregation is actively involved in their community. Their fingerprints—ultimately God’s fingerprints—are all over the local mentoring program, the school system, and the regional Young Life ministry.
“Admittedly, we are growing to be a truly missional church for the glory of Christ,” Pastor Nate concludes. “We have not always been this way. God is doing an amazing work in our hearts and lives, and it is unmistakable. I believe God is just getting started, as now our hearts are bent on following him and being his church, instead of simply doing church.”
In Oregon, across North America, and around the world, the Church of God is taking back what hell has stolen. Join the movement. Give life. Donate today at www.jesusisthesubject.org/give.