The Ocoee church sent a disaster-relief team to two cities to assist residents affected by Hurricane Ida.
Glad Tidings Church, in Ocoee, is a missions-minded church, and the pastor and several members were able to put this goal into action when they traveled to Galliano, Louisiana, to help victims of Hurricane Ida.
Pastor Tyler Howell recounted the humbling experience of collecting supplies and hand-delivering them to the folks who needed them the most.
Glad Tidings partnered with about 10 other churches, in places such as Sanford, Jacksonville and northwest Florida, and raised about $36,000 to buy 36 generators and other supplies. City of Destiny Church in Clarcona and City Serve, an Apopka ministry, were among the partners.
“We loaded up what would equate to about two-and-a-half semi loads of product,” Howell said. “We took three 26-foot trailers and another semi.”
Glad Tidings has its own disaster relief team that operates out of a 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Apopka that is set up for local outreach ministry, and supplies are always ready for delivery during disaster relief missions.
Once in Galliano, Howell and his team partnered with two churches that have enjoyed a longtime relationship with Glad Tidings. A member of Glad Tidings had grown up in one church there and her mother attends there today. At another Assembly of God church, the Glad Tidings pastor attended school with the pastors there.
“It was a great God-ordained moment for those relationships to really happen,” Howell said.
“They set up distribution centers, and we made hot meals for people to come and eat,” he said. “They did a drive-thru for that, breakfast and lunch, and at dinnertime they would set up distribution for water and diapers and supplies that had been brought in from other ministries and churches, like Convoy of Hope.”
During the mission trip, the Glad Tidings team tarped several rooftops with the aid of some Seminole County Sheriff Department officers who had been relocated to Galliano.
“There are a lot of older homes, wood-frame homes, and those homes just did not take the damage (well),” Howell said. “We talked to many people that are having to move away until they can figure out with FEMA what is going on — and what’s really sad is a lot of these people have owned their homes, (but) they didn’t hold property insurance on it.”
Volunteers at Glad Tidings packed 3,000 blessing bags with essential hygiene products. The people of Galliano were thrilled to receive these, Howell said.
“I was really surprised at how much,” he said. “We called them blessing bags, (with) just basic sanitation needs – toothbrush, mouthwash, comb, some spray-in shampoo, baby wipes — basic, little showers in a bag. I was surprised at how much of a need those were.”
An initial team of four men drove to Louisiana Sept. 1 through 3 with some immediate supplies and to assess the situation and find out the needs. A few days later, Howell and four others returned to Galliano with more items.
“We have relationships with some bigger ministries that we were able to get to help fill up the semis with MREs and bottled water, but when it came to all that (was on the collection list), from cleaning supplies to diapers, that was really facilitated through community effort. Several collection sites were set up, including Gymnastics USA.
People say, ‘What is my purpose?’” Howell said. “We have a saying: The need reveals the call. God will reveal that need. We know throughout our warehouse and our ministry that this was definitely a need worth responding to.”
The Glad Tidings team plans to return to Louisiana at the end of September. Depending on the need, the volunteers are prepared to tarp more houses and tackle property cleanup. No matter what is needed, the Ocoee church is ready to assist, living out the James 1:27 Bible passage: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
“For me, (the trip) re-established the importance of the need revealing the call,” he said.
It was as simple as “taking care of those that have walked through hard times and are walking through hard times,” he said. “We didn’t really know to expect when we got there. You’re just giving out a bottled water or a blessing bag, and they’re just bawling.
“We’ve gone through hurricanes here, and we’ve gone a week without power, but these people lost everything,” Howell said.
“May I not just brush over a need, but may I actually recognize that every need that is there is potentially because the Lord wants me to be there to help with that,” Howell said. “It re-establishes the importance of being on mission.”
The Observer has invested in new technology, so you can enjoy a more personalized online experience. By creating a user profile on OrangeObserver.com, you can manage settings, customize content, enter contests and more, all while continuing to enjoy all the local news you care about — Click Here it's FREE.