On Wednesday, March 29th the world was rocked by a tragic accident involving a church bus and a truck. Personal to me, my father was the driver and, in an instant, was ripped from my life forever. For a brief moment, the eyes of the world are on our small town of New Braunfels. Unable to sleep that night, I took to writing and posted the blog Think Short Term, which has been read by more people than I ever would have imagined.
After a night of crying myself to sleep, mom and I got to work. The busyness kept us distracted as we focused on everything that must be done. One important task was to locate pictures of my father with his “little brother” … but the best photo we found was only a proof of a photo shoot taken two years earlier.
Praying and hoping, I dialed the number for LifeTouch, knowing full well that the proof said they keep images on file for 6 months. Once I reached a representative, I explained that I knew my request was likely impossible but I wanted to order prints from a sitting from 2 years ago, as we were trying to locate a picture of my father who died in the crash.
Amazingly enough, she was able to find the sitting… but said there were no image files available. She told me she would see if the files could be located and would let me know.
That was Thursday.
Friday we didn’t hear anything. I went out to their website and filled in an order form… still nothing.
Over the weekend we waited in suspense but never received an email. Monday, my mom went up to the church for the morning. She told me a box had arrived from LifeTouch… with 16 x 20 framed pictures of each of the bus crash victims. Not only that, they had sent smaller versions of the pictures as well and full resolution digital files to the church for use in printing bulletins for the funerals.
But here is the crazy thing… my dad didn’t take a solo shot. They had to edit a picture he took with someone else so that we had a solo shot of him. They invested the time to edit pictures, have each printed and framed, and shipped them to the church.
All of this came without a bill.
This morning I called to order the other prints we needed … and was informed that all of the bus crash victims had 50% off one order.
I was a bit overwhelmed.
Once I finished ordering the prints and expressing my appreciation, I began to make a list of all the companies and individuals that have helped us in the last week. Food has come in from Whataburger, HEB, CiCi’s, and many others. Churches have come to cook, SA Express News is running obituaries for free, and numerous flowers have come in from the YMCA, Beth Moore, and many others.
I contacted the church, asking if they had a list they could email over. I explained that my plan was to use my next blog to honor the companies that have offered to help. The response “that’s going to be a really long post” made sense when I realized the file they were using to track donations had 8 tabs.
After reading for an hour, I am not even half way through the list. Innumerable counselors offering free services, churches reaching out to pray and offer help, families impacted leaving stories and wanting to cook or clean, people offering rooms or homes for anyone coming in from out of town… the list went on and on.
I knew we have been inundated with offers of help from former students of my father and their parents… honestly, answering all of the messages on Facebook has been one of my main roles this week. But this list overwhelmed me. Below are just a sample of the responses…
- Adobe Café dropped off gift cards for each of the families.
- A pastor from another local church said he had a golf cart and would help shuttle people to memorial services (as long as they don’t conflict with his Sunday preaching).
- Hotels and resorts around the area blocked out rooms for families coming in from out of town.
- Multiple individuals offered food and cooking help for the families and for the memorial services.
- Individuals offered rooms and homes.
- Tyndale House Publishers gifted books to each of the grieving families.
Prayers also came in from around the world:
Our Church in Jackson County prayed for your church and congregation. May God comfort you all.
I would like to know how our Intercessory Prayer Ministry here in Cumming, GA could support your church family.
I just wanted to send you all love from the UK.
I’m a young lady in New Brunswick, Canada … I will add your church, and the congregation to my prayer journal.
I could literally go on for hours.
This is what the Church is all about. Personal to me, my community group has cleaned my home and washed my laundry. They also sent me back to New Braunfels with chocolate and food for my family.
For this brief moment in time, we have an opportunity to show the world what it means to be the Body of Christ, how we come together and pray and love and support each other in a time of crisis.
But it’s more than that… because the light will shine elsewhere soon enough. When the spotlight is gone and the attention has waned, it’s those relationships within the Body of Christ that will carry us through.
It doesn’t take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to live.
Life is hard and no one comes out unscathed. Without the Body of Christ and the fellowship of believers, I don’t know how we would be able to make it through this storm.
There are not words that can express how much we appreciate all the love and support that has been shown to our Church family. Thank you!