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God’s ‘angels’ in Pensacola were simply Baptist volunteers

PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP)–Mere mortals arrived on Buddy Street in Pensacola, Fla., to help the neighborhood recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ivan. But to Elizabeth Carroll, “the Lord sent in His angels.”

Towing a tractor, a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle and a trailer equipped with tools, ladders and generators, the chainsaw team from Florida’s Lake County Baptist Association made quick work of an oak tree lying on the roof of the cement block home shared by Carroll and Joyce Larkin. The tree limbs had pierced through the wood and were protruding near the ceiling fan.

Sobbing when she first saw the team of workers, Carroll repeatedly cried, “Thank You, Jesus; thank You, Jesus.”

Gaining composure she continued, “We’ve been struggling since the storm. We rode it out here. I have never been so scared. It sounded like a big freight train and then I heard a tree hit the roof. Every time a tree hit the house, it started vibrating.”

Commencing their work in prayer, the team held hands with Carroll and Larkin before climbing on the roof, chainsaws in hand.

“One of my neighbors just asked me how we were doing,” Carroll recounted. “I said, ‘We’re just doing great because the Lord just sent His angels in.’ That’s exactly what they are — angels.”

Registered nurse Marshal McGlamry who attends Bay Street Baptist Church in Eustis, Fla., gave Carroll a box filled with assorted hygiene products and wet wipes, water and powdered juice. Having lived in Hialeah during Hurricane Andrew, McGlamery said she “knew how important it is for people to help.”

Larkin, who had lived in the house for five years, was surprised at how quickly the work was completed, “in less than an hour’s time. On Friday, I was just turning around in circles.” That day she reported for work at Wal-Mart and worked through the next days to clean the store to open it for customers. She met a team of Southern Baptist volunteers buying supplies who turned her name in on a work order for disaster recovery.

Noting that she earlier had tried to call FEMA and found a recording, Larkin said she gave up. “Now my Baptist friends are here. Isn’t God amazing?”

After removing the tree, the Florida Baptists placed a tarp on the damaged roof.

While the team was there, neighbor Shawn Winn came by and asked if the workers could look at his house. A large cedar tree had fallen at his front door and access to his back door was hindered by another tree. Still another downed tree was lodged across his driveway, making it impossible to get his car out of his carport.

“I have been trapped for five days, unable to get food, ice, water or supplies,” the retired Mississippi State University professor said. “And no taxis were available to go stand in line for supplies.”

After clearing the tree off the driveway, Bay Street pastor Mark Douglas talked with Winn -about the time the pastor had been stranded on an island. He steered the conversation into a presentation of the plan of salvation.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Winn knelt in what had once been a picturesque backyard to ask Christ to be his Savior.

Douglas reported that when the recovery team went to Punta Gorda to help clean up after Hurricane Charley, the volunteers — predominately members of the Bay Street church — led 30 persons to Christ. The team’s evangelistic heart can be credited to the church’s FAITH evangelistic training and its prayer ministry, Douglas said.

“We have real prayer warriors back at the church interceding for us.”

    About the Author

  • Barbara Denman

    Barbara Denman is communications editor for the Florida Baptist Convention. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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