When a landslide devastated the town of Oso, Wash., on March 22, the congregation of Sumas (Wash.) Christian Reformed Church responded with compassion in the form of household essentials, gas cards, and offerings toward funeral costs.
Although Sumas is located 80 miles from where the landslide occurred, church members cared for those affected by the disaster. Rev. Mark VanDyke said, “For quite some time I have been praying that God would give our church an opportunity to serve those in need, and the passion, energy, and follow-through to provide such aid. God answered that prayer by inspiring some hard-working people who took care of the planning and logistical aspects of our donation to Oso.”
Dale and Audrey Snapper, members of Sumas CRC and Red Cross volunteers, helped place victims in shelters. “This has been a tough, emotional, but very rewarding assignment. We thank God that we could be a part of it, at the same time thanking the locals for allowing us to help,” said Dale.
Snapper told the congregation that the landslide victims had plenty of food. The greater need was paper towels, dish soap, and toiletries. This motivated church member Leea Heeringa to conduct a clothing and toiletry drive. People from the church immediately responded and within a few days had filled a 14-foot U-Haul with clothing and toiletries.
The landslide caused numerous road closures, forcing people from Oso and nearby towns to drive extra miles to get into town. A young Sumas member, Melissa, responded to the problem of extra gas costs by asking for donations from customers at the gas station in Sumas where she works, raising $570 in one weekend. This money was converted into gas gift cards for victims burdened by extra driving.
On Good Friday, the congregation of Sumas CRC will take an offering to support the Oso Community Chapel Funeral Fund. This will assist victims who lost loved ones in the landslide with impending funeral and burial costs.
“It has been great to see God using his people as instruments of peace,” said VanDyke. “Many in our church have gotten excited about serving the Lord by giving to the people of Oso.”