Last January, John and Ashley Wallace joined us on our clergy orientation trip to Israel. It’s always wonderful to meet young clergy families who are dedicated to the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the Church. None of us could have imagined how intense that work would become only 9 months later.
When Hurricane Michael roared into the panhandle of Florida, I thought immediately of John and Ashley and their four children.
I was a guest preacher at their young, vibrant church in Rosemary Beach, Florida this summer. Their church is awesome! Apostle’s By-the-Sea is a wonderful mixture of residents, ages, tourists, singles and families. Their mission field is challenging and their congregation is growing. The worship was inspiring. I was there for two Sundays and Fran and I had a few afternoons with John and Ashley around at poolside (tough duty).
So, as a hurricane approached, I wondered how John and Ashley were getting along. He and I texted through the storm. Their power and phone lines were out but, as we discovered, I was able to text screenshots from the weather updates I was receiving. The devastation was immense, as we all know now.
But, as soon as they could, John and Ashley drove back into the damaged regions and rolled up their sleeves, mobilized their young church, and started to make a difference. I wrote about their early efforts here, and most recently I asked John to give us a report from the field.
John Wallace writes from the field:
It was Tuesday evening when we decided to evacuate. Hurricane Michael was becoming a major storm. We watched the coverage all day on Wednesday. During the coverage, one of our local meteorologists said, “Lives are going to change today. This storm is going to change lives.” In just a few hours on Wednesday, October 10, Hurricane Michael roared ashore bringing destruction on a massive scale. Homes were washed away. Trees were snapped like toothpicks. Businesses were wrecked. Lives were changed.
My family and Church live on the edge. To our west, life goes on as if nothing happened. To our east, lives were upended by one of the most powerful Hurricanes to make landfall in U.S. history. We have to help.
Our Church has partnered with several local congregations and with the Mayor of Parker, Florida to bring critical aid to a devastated community. The lives of the people here have changed forever, and at Apostles By-the-Sea our lives have changed too – not necessarily for the better, but for good.
Pray for us! Pray for the people here! And support his crucial work!
Canon David has over 35 years of local congregational ministry, diocesan and national involvement, leadership, and ministry experience and is the founder of Leaderworks. He was the founding Rector/Pastor, Christ Church, Plano and currently serves as the Strategic Leader and Dean, Diocese of C4SO.