Sacrifice for Service: Interview with a Volunteer Tornado Rescue Team

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Simply Darlene tornado sqaure

Blogger and long-time High Calling member Simply Darlene interviewed two very ordinary young men who did something quite extraordinary: they dropped everything for two weeks, including work and school, and traveled 4,000 miles round-trip to help the victims of the May 20, 2013, tornado disaster in Moore, Oklahoma.

Although they didn’t hear the warning sirens pierce through Moore, Oklahoma, prior to the category EF5 tornado, ten small-town Oregon men heard loud and clear God’s cry for them to become the hands and feet of Jesus in that devastated community. I recently interviewed two Nazarene Disaster Response Team members: Matthew Straw, 20, and Caleb Glaser, 15. This 4,000-mile round trip was the first of its kind for these young men.

Darlene: Aside from the evident need shown on the news, what led to the formation of this team?
Matthew: I believe that it was the hand of God that brought us all togethermost of us didn’t know each other.

Even though these fellas come from different backgrounds (armed service members, students, farm laborers, photographers, and a small engine mechanic), and they range in age from 15 to 56 years old, all were able to set aside nearly two weeks of time for this trip.

Darlene: How did God provide for you and/or meet your needs for this trip?
Matthew: No one had to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for fuel and supplies.
Caleb: On the way down, a starter bolt fell out of a truck. It could have fallen off anywhere on the road, but we found it right where the truck was parked; so, we just put it back in and rolled on down the highway.

In the two days between the formation of the team and their departure date, many people made monetary and supply donations. Some lent rigs; others packed and loaded everything from bottled water and snacks to chainsaws and assorted tools. In order to optimize work time, the team drove two sets of pickups/trailer nonstop, both to and from Oregon and Oklahoma.

Darlene: What was your initial reaction once you arrived in Moore?
Matthew: It looked like a bombsite.
Caleb: I was amazed at how big the devastation wasit’s a little bit overwhelming to see regular houses completely flat. It looks less threatening on television.

These men sorted, recovered and moved belongings from damaged homes to storage facilities. They raked and carried sheetrock, wood, screws, nails, tin, and “everything imaginable to the street to be hauled off by the city.” Because of its equipment and mechanical skills, the team was able to utilize chain saws, skid steers, and its hydraulic dump trailer to provide much-needed assistance with tree removal and other heavier tasks.

Caleb said that one day they worked at a site where a man had died, so the team was “very careful to pick up anything that would mean something to the family.”

Darlene: What was your biggest lesson, and how does it apply to your life?
Matthew: Leadership is key. If a team is a machine and the leaders are the motor, when the motor fails, the team doesn’t run.
Caleb: Teamwork. I think it’s one of the most applicable lessons, no matter the situation.

When asked what they most want others to know about this trip, both said that God is able to use people to make a difference. And folks who cannot make such a trip can render aid through financial assistance, other donations, and prayer support.

Darlene: Do you feel this was your duty as a believer and/or as an American?
Caleb: I knew right away that if I didn’t go, I would miss a great opportunity to use skills that could help people; plus, I felt God calling me to do it.
Matthew: I really believe that I played a part in the bigger pictureI helped hope stay alive.

Ten men heard loud and clear God’s cry for them to become the hands and feet of Jesus, and as Matthew said, “Regardless of how far we travel to serve, service is still important."

Post by Simply Darlene. Image by Tyler Church, Salem Oregon.