(Tampa, Fla) Sept. 10, 2017 -A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and was completely calm.” – NIV, Mark 37-39.
Tampa Corps Officer Capt. Ben Bridges is a lifelong Tampa area resident. He’s been in some rough storms, but never a hurricane.
So, while ministering to his soldiers about evacuation plans and hurricane kits, he was also making his own plans. Bridges and his family had to evacuate their homes, taking refuge at the Florida Divisional Headquarters in Lutz, along with more than 160 staff members and officers. The headquarters is open to staff and their families until Irma passes through the Tampa Bay area.
The best way to minister to others in a time of crisis, Bridges said, is to listen.
“Sometimes just being there makes all the difference,” he said.
The Salvation Army’s ministry of presence is about honoring Founder William Booth’s legacy of “Others.” Putting others first – listening, praying and walking with them through a darken path brings so much comfort to disaster survivors, Bridges added.
Major John Birks, another Emotional and Spiritual Care officer, said anxiety levels can run high, especially before the storm.
“We remember our favorite Bible verses, pray and eating our favorite comfort food also helps,” he said. “We remind ourselves that what we do makes a difference.”
The Salvation Army in Florida began its Irma feeding operations Thursday at local Emergency Operations Centers and shelters. All 32 Florida Salvation Army canteens are on standby, ready deploy to the most affected places. Support is also coming from other parts of the southeast to help stage in needed areas throughout Florida.
To make a financial donation to support the Hurricane Irma relief and recovery efforts please go to www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or text the word Storm to 51555.