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New Jersey congregation brings hope to beach town hit hard by Superstorm Sandy

Carl and Alicia Williamson

Disaster relief organizations associated with Churches of Christ are responding to the needs of Superstorm Sandy victims, as The Christian Chronicle reported Friday.

Among the New Jersey congregations heavily involved in the relief effort is the Gateway Church of Christ, where Carl Williamson serves as lead evangelist. I was blessed to spend time with Williamson and his wife, Alicia, in 2008 when reporting on a New Jersey church-planting effort by the couple and other Harding University graduates.
Below, Carl Williamson provides a first-person account of his family’s experience during the storm and shares details on the Gateway church’s relief work in hard-hit Union Beach, N.J.:

Reflections on Hurricane Sandy

It is just over four days since a hurricane hit the New Jersey shore, and our family is with out power, water and heat. It seems like this would describe devastation in the aftermath of the worst storm in known history to hit the Northeast region. However, my wife and I along with our two children, Zoe, 6, and Elle, 4, are wondering how we could complain after seeing the destruction of several shore towns, including Union Beach, N.J.
This small shore town, which is about 10 minutes away from our small farm house in Morganville, N.J.,  faced a much greater devastation then merely being without some common known necessities. These families faced a threat far greater: either leave town or face your certain demise.
There were nearly 200 homes destroyed and many more who lost most if not all of their possessions. As we sat at home with nowhere to go, I didn’t yet know how God would use us to be apart of something so much bigger. Several times we talked about trying to help those in need, but realizing that we also had a need and two children to take care of, we waited and prayed. We specifically prayed that God would provide the right time and opportunity for us to help.
In the middle of the storm I remember my daughter Elle saying, “Daddy, God is showing his mighty.” I said, “Yes, he is, he is showing his mighty.” My other daughter was old enough to be scared, and the storm terrified her, and rightly so because in the middle of a hurricane, only God is in control. There have been so many family members, churches and friends that have prayed for our family during this time, and I want to share one way in which your prayers and our prayers have been answered.
We live close enough to the aftermath of the storm to be a great help to those in need, and yet we have not been so affected as not to be able to be used as vessels in God’s kingdom. My mother-in-law, Dawn Adcock, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., and attends the Otter Creek Church of Christ, was having trouble reaching us during the days after the storm and felt helpless to know how to help. Unknown to her, we felt the same way towards those of New Jersey that we have come to reach with the message of the Gospel.
My wife and I with several Harding couples came eight years ago to start the Brunswick Church of Christ in North Brunswick, N.J., and have since also started the Gateway Church of Christ with several members of Churches of Christ in New Jersey. So, we started to pray for God to show us how to help. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law stopped by Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn., and told them that they needed to get a truck up to New Jersey.
One of our elders, Conrad Gross at Gateway, got the call and started to do the leg work for finding out how we could best use a truck with $90,000 worth of food, water and cleaning supplies. We started with our local township where we meet for church. The Gateway church has only been established for just over one year, and we meet in a community center in Holmdel, N.J.
After speaking with Mike from the Office of Emergency Management, he asked one simple question, “Do you want to help only Holmdel people, or do you want to help people who are really in need, that need it the most?” Our obvious answer was, we want to help people who really need help. That is how we came in contact with another Mike that works with the Office of Emergency Management in Union Beach, N.J.
At this point we went down to visit the Municipal Building in Union Beach and started to realize how lucky we were to have a roof over our heads and most basic needs. We stood in line with people who were loosing their property, and even worse they were loosing their hope. Hope is the one thing that Jesus provides in every situation … we made people aware that the Gateway Church of Christ was coming on Friday with a semi-trailer full of food and basic necessities, and immediately we became everyone’s friend.
The truth is that Jesus is what these people really need, but it is certainly hard to realize that you need God in the aftermath of such great devastation. Considering all of that, the food from Disaster Relief is creating an opportunity for us to spread the Gospel to a lost world in New Jersey, and it is also acting as the hands and feet of Jesus.
There are some who have asked how they can help in New Jersey. The Gateway Church has become a hub for relief efforts in the Union Beach shore town. As of Friday morning, we unloaded the semi-trailer of goods from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief, and as of 5 p.m. on that same day, we had already run out of everything that was delivered. Thankfully we have been promised another shipment on Sunday morning, and we continue to provide both volunteers and resources to those in need.
We are currently in need of toiletry items, shovels, rakes, work gloves, feminine products, warm gloves, hats, scarfs, anything to keep people warm and of course food and water. If you can make deliveries, please contact our cell number, or you can send care packages to the Gateway Church of Christ address below.
If you would like to make donations, you can make them by sending money to Churches of Christ Disaster Relief or by sending money to the Gateway Church of Christ.
Gateway Church of Christ is taking donations to be distributed to those most affected in Union Beach and surrounding shore towns. You can send checks made payable to Gateway Church of Christ (19 Reids Hill Road, Morganville, NJ 07751); Attn: NJ Disaster Relief. Feel free to contact us for further ideas and/ or packages to send to residents. Our phone number is (615) 856-3315.
Carl & Alicia Williamson
Gateway Church of Christ

  • Feedback
    The Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team (DRT) is working with the Gateway and Monmouth Churches. We finalized volunteer housing arrangements today. The tool, supply and shower trailers will arrive early this week as well as the DRT Mobile Kitchen. Volunteers are needed. Please register to volunteer on the DRT website. www.churchesofchristdrt.org
    Laura Cremeans
    November, 4 2012

    To the Church of Christ at Gateway, I am an Elder at Oak Valley Church of Christ , in Benton KY 42025 . We will be having a metting Sunday evening to where to send help to . Thanks
    Claude Bohannon jr.
    November, 5 2012

    To the Gateway Church, We are members of the Northview Church of Christ in Statesville, NC. My husband Bill & I are heading up a collection of needed items to bring up to you to help the victims of the storm. We hope to get at least a large pick-up truck load & more if we can. We have already collected some food, diapers, baby formula & some blankets. I used the list in your article from the Christian Chronicle. We also have money donations so we can also purchase other items needed if you can tell us what is needed most right now. We found out that Bill & I have some mutual friends with Carl & Alicia. Sheri & Barry Bentley. Sheri was a teen at Northview when we moved here in 1988. We were close friends of her parents & still with her mom. We are excited to be able to help you with some supplies. I will let you know when we have it all collected & Bill & possibly our preacher Les Bonnett will be on the road bringing it to you. Please let us know anything else that might be needed besides what was on your list. In Christian Love, Bill & Linda Pearson
    Linda Pearson
    November, 6 2012

    Way to go, Carl. Dan Cooper here of the Pitman Road Church of Christ. We are also collecting specified items and monies for distribution. If you would like to donate items, please call (856) 589-1500 for a list of items specifically needed.
    May God receive all the glory. Make we take full advantage of the unusually large number of opportunities to serve Him by serving His creation.
    Step by Step, He Leads;
    Dan Cooper
    Dan Cooper
    November, 8 2012

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