Now that I’m out of the primary impact zone where Hurricane Ian hit Florida last Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m finally able to begin writing and sharing my daily updates again.
Let me begin by saying welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — if you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you – THAT’S A LOT! My goal is to introduce people to the Jesus they never knew, and help them get to know Him and His word personally – and better ! If our time together today speaks to your heart, then let me invite you to like, subscribe and share it with a friend!
Ian was the strongest storm to hit Florida in 87 years. The current death toll in Florida sits at 123, and you can count on it going higher. So where have I been? What have I been doing, and why?
Let me begin by telling you that I’m bi-vocational, meaning I have two very different jobs. In my role as a Bishop, I write these devotionals and lead one of the Provinces of our communion, the CEEC.CHURCH. I don’t get a salary, and never have; it’s a labor of love. So that’s my first “job.” I get up very early in the morning so that I can get in a solid five and a half hours before I start my “other job” at 9am. The secular work I do in my “other job” is as Managing Director for a group of companies that does venture capital and private equity pays the bills. In that role I lead one of our portfolio companies, and often get pulled in to various emergencies and projects when my skills are needed. And that’s what happened last Tuesday.
One of the dozen or so companies in our portfolio, Critical Response Strategies, was part of the disaster response team for Hurricane Ian. We deployed a strike team of about 70 nurses to Fort Meyers, essentially sitting on the bulls-eye and riding out the 150 mph winds. It was like a ten day trip to hell and back. All the nurses got to stay in the safe shelters, my colleague and I were on the second floor of a small hotel. As Ian hit on Tuesday evening we lost power, water, cell service and internet … for days. In fact, when we checked out of the hotel on Sunday to relocate to a different base of operations, the hotel still had no power. Over a hundred thousand homes and businesses in that community still don’t, and as you look at this video I shot you can see why. The power poles themselves – CONCRETE pillars – were blown over and snapped power lines. Three or four days into the recovery we were able to get mobile phone service in many places, but not in others.
Our job was to keep nurses supplied so they could do their jobs at the shelters. That was a major challenge because of the conditions on the roadways. As you can see, they were littered with storm debris, broken glass and metal, even dumpsters. None of the traffic lights were working, and some of them were just hanging by wires in the middle of the road. We drove when and where we needed to to fulfill our mission. Driving in the daytime was incredibly challenging at best, driving at night was flat out dangerous. We did both when necessary. I remember sitting at an intersection on the first morning after the storm, dumbstruck as a string of ambulances raced to the shoreline of Ft Meyers. It was something I’d never seen before. I started filming after a dozen or so had already passed, and there were still more than I cared to count.
Initially there were three shelters we served in Fort Meyers. Then, over the course of a couple of days, we consolidated all of them into the core shelter at the Hertz Arena, deployed another team of twenty clinicians to a make-shift hospital that had been set up in an elementary school in Sarasota and sent two more teams down to Naples to help in a couple of hospitals there. All of those nurses are still on the job in those locations as I write this.
Today’s verse says MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
Our help DOES come from the Lord, to be sure. Over the last ten days I’ve watched Him work. He used nurses, deputy sheriffs, and volunteers who survived the storm and showed up at shelters to help. He had His people everywhere. They were bringing clothes, blankets, air mattresses and food. There were librarians, city workers, teachers and all manner of others who showed up to keep the shelter operating for a week until the Red Cross arrived on scene. People brought toys and books for kids, denture adhesive and cleanser for seniors and everything else you can imagine. (And probably some stuff you can’t.) God often works through people, and I never cease to be amazed at the ones He chooses and uses.
I’m reminded of the story of a church building that survived a hurricane, although they had extensive damage to their roof. When the pastor got up that Sunday to address the congregation he said, “Folks, I’ve got GOOD news this morning and I’ve got BAD news. The GOOD news is that we’ve got all the money we need to fix the roof of the church and make it as good as new. The BAD news is that it’s still in your pockets.”
Many folks have asked me how they can help. This morning there are people in shelters who’ve lost their prescription medication in the storm. Pharmacies are coming to the shelters to gather the information needed to replace them and insurance is covering most of the bills. But most of these people don’t have the money they need to cover the deductibles on their meds. The day I left the Hertz Arena we were trying to come up with close to a thousand dollars to pay prescription deductibles. There are other needs, of course; but this is one that you can help with if you’d like. The GOOD news is that among the fifty-eight thousand people who watched one of the Mornings with Bishop Robert messages or clicked “like” on one of my posts of a picture and a message – we’ve got plenty of money to cover lots of needs. You know the BAD news.
Here’s my promise to you. If you’ll trust me with a financial gift for hurricane relief I’ll make sure it is put to good use on the ground in the hardest hit communities of southwestern Florida. I ask you to every day to share my messages with your friends and family and be part of the team showing the love of Jesus. Today I’m asking you to give what you can, and together we’ll put it to work.
CLICK THIS LINK TO GIVE A FINANCIAL GIFT FOR HURRICANE IAN DISASTER RELIEF
MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH – and He uses people like you. Together, we can make a real difference.
Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll be back with a devotional that’s more in line with the ones you’re used to. But TODAY I’m asking you to join me and be the hands and feet of Christ on the ground in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Ian.
Thank you for helping.