Monday, November 5, 2012

'Power of the local church' on display in NYC

NEW YORK CITY (BP) -- The elderly lady was afraid to open the door. Alone in the dark in her apartment on the 23rd floor of the Fulton government housing complex in Chelsea Park days after Hurricane Sandy struck, she was not accustomed to people helping.

But Gallery Church in midtown Manhattan was in a position to help. Ministry leader Chris Mills climbed the 23 flights of stairs Nov. 1 to reach the elderly woman, one of dozens too frail to exit the building, elevators of no use because of power outages.

"She hadn't seen anybody in three days. She had been without power since Monday night and we were the first people to show up to her apartment, so she hadn't seen anybody since the hurricane," Mills said. "People get scared and don't know what's on the other side of that door. When she did open the door, she saw what we had to give her. She was very thankful and gave us a list of a few more things that she needed. We were able to go back today with that list and give her some more items that she needed."

Mills, a member of Gallery Church for three years, leads a youth ministry outreach in Chelsea Park, a community the church has adopted for ministry.

"We didn't show up until maybe two days after the hurricane and we're the first ones that they've seen. It just shows you the power of the local church. Usually in a situation like this the local church is the first one on the scene. We're kind of first responders in that," Mills said. "It's just amazing that there are so many people in the housing complex here that have not seen anybody but us. That was surprising to me and overwhelming."

Southern Baptist Gallery Church pastor Freddy T. Wyatt mobilized 20 volunteers, nearly a third of his membership of 70, to survey apartments in the Chelsea Park and Stuyvesant Town neighborhoods, looking for those in need, and extended his efforts Friday to include two other areas.

"We have found dozens of elderly people. Some had no contact with anyone before we got there since the storm hit. We found some that were running out of food, some that were running out of water and some that needed their dialysis, and we were able to make that emergency connection for them," Wyatt said. "We're a central location that has power, and we're able to distribute the people out to different places."


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