FLORIDA, USA – When retired pastors Marie and Gene faced the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in their home near Panama City Beach, they could have easily fallen into despair. But as longtime friends of CBN their sister organization, Operation Blessing, they knew just where to turn for help.
Thankfully, eighty-two-year-old Marie and her eighty-four-year-old husband Gene had the wisdom to hunker down in a shelter during Hurricane Michael. Marie said, “This one when it started—we knew we had to get out.” They only heard the freight train sounds at a distance. But once they left the shelter, evidence of the storm’s destructive power lay all around them. Gene said he saw “miles and miles of devastation.” And Marie added, “It’s like bombs were dropped.”
Overall, Gene and Marie fared better than some. Still, around 20 trees littered their yard, most of their outbuildings were damaged, and their roof suffered leaks. Mold infiltrating their home was especially hard on Marie due to a previous illness. The thought of recovering after the disaster could have easily overwhelmed the couple.
However, Marie had worked as a makeup artist for CBN back in the early 80s during the days of their Christian soap opera, “Another Life.” She remembered seeing the massive Operation Blessing trucks heading out. At the time she thought how wonderful that they were there to help people, and she always believed they would be available for her too, if she needed them.
So she contacted Operation Blessing, and sure enough, thanks to the support of friends like you, a team arrived to help shortly after they returned to their home. In tears, Marie said, “It’s so amazing to know that they are here for me now….Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
As retired pastors, Gene and Marie firmly believe in the grace of God and the compassion of His people. Marie said, “The best thing that happens in a disaster is people coming together.” Meanwhile, Gene said the help of Operation Blessing volunteers “is a witness to the world that there are still those who care, and care deeply.” The OBI team removed the many fallen trees from the couple’s yard and secured tarps to their damaged roof.
Marie has been an artist all her life, often earning a living from her paintings. While her art studio was also damaged, the team saw in her a hard worker, determined to keep creating as long as the Lord gives her strength.
She shared some of her artwork with us. Appropriately, she showed us a painting called “Broken Vessels.” When you shine a black light on it, you see a hidden picture of Jesus remaking the vessel. Similarly, Marie and Gene know that God can rebuild their city and their lives.
They realize that Panama City Beach will never be the same. Marie even reported that her daughter got lost twice while driving with no familiar landmarks to guide her. But Gene said, “What we have in our heart…that’s where our treasure is.”
Marie added, “He’ll give us new stuff…and replenish it like the God He is.” This precious woman with her artist’s soul said that after this disaster, she’s “more determined to see the beauty in things” than ever before.
Thank you for sending help to these longtime friends of CBN, and for helping to create beauty in the midst of disaster.
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