By Billy Robinson
On Oct. 6, just days after South Carolina’s flood devastation, South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers In Mission Early Response Teams responded to a couple of areas in the state. One of which was Holly Hill for two damaged roofs and a flooded family restaurant.
A restaurant is something we had not helped muck out in our 10 years of response throughout the Southeast, but this one was unique. Two pastors and city personnel referred us to the family-owned business that had flooded from floodwaters and leaks in the ceiling. This restaurant is vital to the community as a food resource, and they had no flood insurance. We learned that it is also a well known Christian ministry that is constantly providing meals to those who cannot afford it for whatever they can pay toward the meal.
On three occasions, two pastors and I had gone to Holly Hill doing assessment and trying to make contact with city officials, but it seemed the devil was hampering our efforts. At the last minute on the morning of the 6th, we decided to take a team to Holly Hill, knowing there was damage there and feeling God’s calling to go.
Before leaving, the Rev. Fred Buchanan, who had visited Holly Hill and gave his card to a policeman and the mayor, gave me a call with the address of Shirley Abraham’s business, the County Corner Diner, located in uptown Holly Hill. I said we usually do not help businesses unless there are no other needs, but Buchanan replied that Abraham has no insurance, and one of the policemen had given her Buchanan’s card when he saw her broken down in tears at her flooded restaurant.
Abraham then called Buchanan and tearfully told him of her need for help.
We went to Holly Hill, and while completing work on one job, the Rev. Terry Martin and I went to buy some needed material from a hardware store and to assess the damage at Abraham’s restaurant. As we pulled up to her restaurant, it had a closed sign on it and the lights out. I stepped out of the truck wearing one of our ERT shirts, and a lady that was walking down the sidewalk paused in front of me, put her hand over her mouth as to catch her breath and with tears in her eyes asked, “Did ya’ll come for me?”
I replied, “If you own this restaurant, then we did.”
She started praising God and shouting, “Thank you, Jesus!”
We looked the flooded restaurant over. I told her it was a big job and that we had one more roof job to do. so we would probably not get to help her until several days or a week later. She nodded that she understood and thanked us for coming by.
But as we drove off, Martin and I distinctly felt God telling us to go back and tell her we would help her today if it meant staying into the night—to which we did.
We returned later with our team, and she then told us a story of how depressed she was that her business appeared ruined. When she went to leave home to go to the restaurant, her daughters asked why are you going? You cannot open the restaurant in the condition it is.
Abraham had replied, “I felt God telling me to go and not open up but to just stay there and see what I do. Then your team arrived, and I knew you were God-sent and that God wants my ministry from this restaurant to continue and he really does care for and love me!”
After cutting and tearing out the storm-soaked carpet and mucking out her restaurant, we sat down to a wonderful home-cooked meal by Abraham and her daughters, and we thanked God for how wonderfully good He is—all the time.
For more on the ERT and how to join, contact Billy Robinson at 803-539-8429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robinson is South Carolina’s UMVIM disaster/ERT coordinator.