“Will we be collecting supplies for the Bahamas?” The email popped up on the Broward Church members’ inboxes as Hurricane Dorian continued to pummel Abaco and Grand Bahama. Christians, this is the question we first ask after we pray to God for those who are suffering. We want to do something, but sometimes a surplus of well-meaning, but non-essential, donations contribute to a “disaster within a disaster” – lots of goods with no place to go. But last week, through the guidance of HOPE worldwide and a friend’s loan of his 70-foot yacht, Broward Church disciples brought hope and relief directly to brothers and sisters in the Bahamas.

“It really is all about relationships,” said Dave Tomlinson, HOPE worldwide’s Director of GlobalDisaster Responses for the Americas. Dave met Peter Medina, a Broward Church member when they served together on a HOPE worldwide Community Service Brigade in Honduras. After an offering was taken up for Bahamas relief at midweek service, Peter contacted Dave. “Do you know anyone with a big enough boat to do a Bahamas run with 4-5,000 pounds of supplies?” Dave asked. Peter did! A business contact, whom Peter describes as a client and a friend, generously offered his family’s yacht and a crew to make the journey.

The greatest immediate need was money to purchase very specific items. Dave talked with International Church of Christ leadership and followed the established protocols that help in accurately assessing critical needs in disaster relief. Almost every day since the storm, Dave has been in contact with the Bahamas Church of Christ- Freeport region leaders Keyno and Pam Hanna, identifying crucial items to be purchased. At the Broward Church midweek service, approximately $12,000 was collected. While shopping for supplies, evangelist Tony Fernandez, Jr., updated Dave and Peter of the growing offering, as more and more money was given. After two days, $21,000 was collected. Seeing the generosity of God’s people in action brought Dave to tears. “This church has a heart to give,” he said. Amazingly this heart to give is being repeated all over the world as disciples in numerous locations are taking up contributions to help with the long term recovery in the Bahamas.

“It’s about the greatest commandment: Love God and love your neighbor; everything else is up to God,” said Peter. God is always working, and all who assisted in this relief effort witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit: the immediate and generous offering; the willing hands of church members and visitors that loaded the truck after worship service; the loaned yacht that actually transported – not Dave’s original ask for 4-5,000 pounds – but 20,000 pounds of specifically requested goods (generators, cooking equipment, etc.); the offer to dock at a yacht club’s safe harbor (another connection with someone from the community); the Bahamian brother who supplied his (miraculously) undamaged work vans to transport the supplies; and disciples who welcomed the vessel at the dock and distributed the items to homes and communities where they were most needed. “It was like a HOPE Seal Team!” exclaimed Peter.

Broward Church members know that Floridians were spared from Hurricane Dorian. It feels like a blessing and an appeal from the heart of God to give generously. HOPE worldwide helped disciples in Florida reach disciples in Freeport, who will, in turn, will share generously with their community. It really is all about relationships.