TUCKERTON, N.J. (BP) -- The 16-member chainsaw crew had stopped for supper at a restaurant just outside Tuckerton, N.J., having driven all day from Cross Central Church in Lexington, S.C., to help survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
"This guy was so excited that he was screaming out, 'I love you, Jesus.’"
Team leader Alan Giddens offered to help a certain storm survivor at the restaurant who said he was fine, directing the team to those in more need, Giddens said.
"The next morning we're in this neighborhood working and I look up and he's standing behind me. And you can just look at him and see, he's just, he's out of energy. And I turned around and spoke to him," Giddens said. "He said, 'I told you last night I didn't need any help.' But he said, 'My body's broken.' He said, 'I can't go anymore. I need your help.' He said, 'I'm a very proud man, but ... I need you.'"
Giddens said the man, 51 and strong, cried as he related his plight, expressing surprise and wonder that the crew was there to help.
In what Giddens described as a providential meeting, the New Jersey man told the crew he had lost everything. His New Jersey coastal community home that had housed four generations of his family suffered four feet of saltwater as Sandy churned Tuckerton Bay ashore. He had no hurricane insurance.
The crew encouraged the man to go home and rest, Giddens said, and made arrangements to include his home in the day's recovery work. As is the group's custom, they offered to pray with the man before beginning to work on his home that evening.
"We prayed with [him] and [he] broke down and he said, 'I want what you guys have,' and we shared the Gospel with him," Giddens said. "And he said, 'I can't do that. I've been bad in my life. I can't. There's no way I can go to heaven.'
"Of course we shared with him we've all been bad. We've all sinned. We sin every day. But Jesus died on that cross for our sins and that He forgives us," Giddens said. The man accepted Jesus.
"This guy was so excited that he was screaming out, 'I love you, Jesus,'" Giddens said. "He even called his friend on the phone and he said, 'I just had to call and tell you I just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,' and he said, 'And you need to too.'"
The Cross Central Church recovery team arrived in New Jersey on Halloween and began work the next day, clearing debris, damaged furniture and fallen trees from homes and streets in Tuckerton, Little Egg Harbor Township and Absecon. Like the man they encountered at the restaurant, the people generally were slow to accept help, Giddens said.
"The first day we got a lot of, 'No, we're OK. We don't need help,' ... because that part of the country is not used to seeing yellow shirts," Giddens said, referring to the common uniform on Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and recovery volunteers. "By about the second day ... people started coming up and thanking us for being there, just going out of their way to thank us."
The team helped 29 families. Read More