Hope – reawakened, rebuilt or restored – is at the core of the work and experience of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).
This was evident during the MDS All-Unit Annual Meeting Feb. 13–14, 2015 at Hartville (Ohio) Mennonite Church, where some 300 volunteers, staff and donors came together to celebrate the work of MDS.
The meeting brought together a broad spectrum of Amish, Brethren in Christ and Mennonites all under one roof to share how love awakens hope when disaster strikes.
In 2014, 3,636 volunteers (including 261 summer youth) served with MDS as short- and long-term volunteers, affecting 463 disaster survivors in nearly 20 communities around the U.S. and Canada.
During 2014, MDS completed construction of nearly a dozen homes for families and individuals uprooted because of floods, tornados and fires. Another 12 are to be completed in 2015.
High River, Alta., resident Pauline Claydon felt hopeless: life’s twists and turns included the 2013 flooding of her home, concern for the future of her disabled son, rezoning of her land, the post-flood demolition of her home and limited finances.
But through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, says Claydon, who shared her story in Ohio, she and her husband found a way to build a new home that met the zoning for a multi-family unit.
With MDS assistance, they will build a duplex, offering two families hope for their future. “MDS has allowed us to prepare for the care of our disabled son,” Claydon says. The resident of the other side of the unit will be a single mother who lost her home because of the development of a floodway.
“I am overcome with a sense of gratitude for all of you who are making my future with my husband and my son, and for Frances and her children, well, a future,” she says. “When you were in service of your fellow man, you were in service of your God.”
The event – based on Song of Songs 8:7, “Many waters cannot quench love” – included reports from all five MDS regions across the U.S. and Canada, and testimonies from survivors of disasters whom MDS has assisted during the past year. Participants at the All-Unit meeting also attended three seminars, including a seminar on climate change and disaster response.
The 2016 MDS All-Unit meeting will be held in Albuquerque, N.M.
Mennonite Disaster Service is a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds in Christian love to those affected by disasters in Canada and the United States. While the main focus is on clean up, repair and rebuilding homes, this service touches lives and nurtures hope, faith and wholeness.