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Those who follow the Golden Rule helped in church’s time of need

On Feb. 6, our church, daycare and school were surrounded by water from a flood that stretched from Virginia to Tennessee. The river behind our church rose so quickly that we barely had enough time to put the pews and furniture up on five-gallon buckets before the water came in the front door.

Within one hour, the water in the front yard was up to my wife’s knees as we evacuated the building.

The entire church was flooded with 20 inches of water throughout the building. The water was moving so fast and hard that it knocked over heavy chairs in which we had laid doors on — other furniture was moved around the rooms!

When the water receded, it left behind thick mud that looked like chocolate pudding everywhere. The Virginia Emergency Services Department came to assess the damage and told us we were one of the hardest hit places in town. They also said the river mud and water was so dirty and filled with bacteria, that it would have been healthier for us to walk through an open sewer than to walk through that muck!

There were many homes and businesses that were affected by this flood. Many are still cleaning up and trying to get their lives back to normal. An experience like that shows how quickly things can change — you can lose everything in a matter of hours. It tends to get people thinking about their priorities in life and what’s most important.

I don’t understand why things happen the way they do.

But one thing I can say: the flood revealed where our hearts were. Our people came together and worked like never before and many folks saw the need on Facebook and came by to help. At least four churches came to us in our time of need, Pastor Joel Horn and the Anchor church at Soul’s Harbor, Pastor Brandon Hay and Life Church in the Claypool Hill Mall, Pastor Danny Altizer and Belfast Full Gospel Church in Belfast, Pastor James Charles and Baptist Valley Assembly in Baptist Valley, Rev. Brian and Tammy Richardson, and many others. (Forgive me if I left anyone out).

I can’t even begin to name everyone — there were close to 100 people that showed up and we had the mud cleaned up throughout the whole church in just five hours! Praise God!

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus gives what has become known as the Golden Rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (NIV).

God blessed us with a taste of Heaven on earth as God’s people came together in a time of need. We weren’t able to have church services the following week because of the mud covering our parking lot, so we visited those churches and thanked them for being living examples of the Golden Rule. Businesses like Hurst Scott Funeral Home and Rusty Hess at American Carpet Care helped us when we didn’t know which way to turn.

As I look back on the tragedy that we’re still recovering from, I choose to thank God for the good things that happened, no lives were lost, the flooding did not affect our electricity even though it got into the electrical outlets at the church (and the breakers didn’t shut off) and we saw the love of Christ in action!

To all of those who have been affected by the recent flooding, I want to share this scripture with you: Isaiah 59:19, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

God is going to take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it around for your good and His glory… so let’s be willing to live by the Golden Rule every day!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia