Maria Henderson, from Riverbend Bible Church, writes:
"One month on from the cyclone clean-up, much has been done, but there is still a lot to do.
"I am the sort of person who likes networking and connecting people. Early on I saw that there were plenty of places to serve, and many people wanting to serve, but they don't always know where to start.
"So, for the last four weeks I have been working with others to go for drives, following leads and knocking on doors, asking how we as a church could serve people in the clean-up. I've also been helping in the front line whenever I can.
"One day I was asked to help fill in on a food package delivery for a local community organisation. On the way we found the property of a man who had lost two businesses to the flood. While he was busy dealing with that, his house was still full of mud and damp walls.
"On the way back down the road we stopped in to see if we could meet him in person and offer help. He gratefully accepted. Within those same two hours, I had an email from one of our pastors about a man new to the church, Riverbend Bible Church, a project manager, who was looking to serve somewhere.
"I saw God’s timing in this and so later that day was able to introduce him to the man who needed help. They got on really well and he was grateful to be able to pray together before we left that day.
"A team came back and emptied his house, stripped the job, and cleaned things up as much as they could. We have ongoing contact with the man, seeking to serve him and ultimately share Christ with him. There are many other people like this.
"Some of our church family have had to go back to work or school. But there are some who are still eagerly serving as much as they can—making meals, taking their kids out to clear debris, and connecting with people we can serve.
"Hastings Christian School has been sending out classes to serve for a couple of hours a day. That service has been a huge blessing at jobs where many hands make light work. Ponatahi Christian School in Carterton also brought their seniors up to help for a day.
"The work is changing but I see an ongoing need for practical help. For example, farmers will need help fixing fences and damage on their properties. Specific skills can come in handy (a diesel mechanic has a week of work lined up for him, fixing flooded machinery), but a general willingness to get out in the mud and help people is great.
"Some of those who help out come from the churches in our area, and some are found by word of mouth or knocking on doors. We will intentionally be following up with these people, sharing the eternal hope of Christ.
"I am a point person at Riverbend Bible Church for the volunteer clean-up effort. Some accommodation is available on-site at our church. If people want to help in other ways, they can contact me and I can try to put them in touch with the right people."
Thank you, Maria, for all you and your church family are doing. You can contact Maria by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.