September 6, 2023

Shelter From the Storms

Alliance churches and chaplains emerge unscathed—and offer helping hands—after a recent spate of natural disasters.

Above: Members of Northgate Community Church in Cathedral City, California, help clean up after Hurricane Hillary.

By Mandy Gove

Anyone who has experienced a natural disaster knows the specific kind of fear you feel when something beyond your control blows in. Growing up in the Midwest, I experienced quite a few. In fact, as a small child who tried to make sense of the world through magic and superstition, I was convinced that every summer on my birthday there would be a tornado.

I was born in the heat of July, and I have many memories spending summers helping my family clean up flooding in our basement and walking around the community picking up tree branches after a tornado. As I grew and learned about Jesus, the superstitions turned into faith. An active faith that cried out in fear to God– the only one who could deliver me from an unknown force of disaster. Whether our basement flooded or not, no storm was wasted when it came to shaping my faith. 

As any Christian knows well, life in Christ does not prevent storms and trials. These acts of nature simply reveal that we were never the ones in control, and that God is the only One we can rely on to protect and sustain us through them. Recently some of our Alliance family have faced devastating storms and emerged with a vivid testimonies of God’s mercy and grace.

Over the past few weeks there have been several natural disasters in our country: A fire in Maui, a hurricane in California, and another blowing through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. While we bless the Lord for the storms that help shape our faith, we also thank Him when he shelters us from them. 

Despite 130 MPH winds, and storm surges of up to 15 feet as category-4 Hurricane Idalia roared through northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, superintendents of the two Alliance districts in that region report that no Alliance churches suffered damage.

Weeks earlier, as Hurricane Hilary devastated parts of southern California with gale force winds and severe flooding, Pasto Joe Zanayed of Northgate Community Church in Cathedral City reports:

We are thanking God for his protection over our church and church members during Hurricane Hilary.  During the storm, the highway nearby the church was covered in water and mud and closed down for two days.  The intersection just one stoplight away from the church was closed for four days with homes around that intersection accumulating up to four feet of mud around their cars and houses.  A few church attendees were in areas where they had to shovel out of mud, or where they were shut into their neighborhoods while the city cleared roads.  Many people from our church went out into the neighborhoods to help strangers dig out of the mud.  It was an amazing community effort!  But overall, we are very grateful to God for his protection and the relatively minimal damage compared to what could have happened.

Although there are no Alliance churches in Maui, there are several Alliance chaplains positioned throughout Hawaii who stepped in to help those who suffered loss. Kevin Pies, the Executive Director for Alliance Chaplains, shared the following: 

As initial recovery operations wind down, now comes the hard work of rebuilding in the aftermath of this devastating disaster. Alliance chaplains continue to play a role in providing vital support and ministry even after the search and rescue mission has ended. Two of them remain on the ground serving among military personnel and veterans during post-recovery operations, caring for the spiritual and emotional needs of those most affected. Despite challenging conditions─including the delicate transfer of unidentified remains─morale remains strong among service members who are grateful to help. Their proactive support has been crucial in sustaining that morale during these difficult times.

Our Veterans Administration (VA) chaplain travels to and from Maui, offering trauma support along with emotional and spiritual care for veterans and staff in addition to assisting with practical medical needs.

Although God sometimes allows His people to experience the fires and the floods, He also longs to shelter us in His loving arms. Over the past month, we have witnessed his tangible protection over His people while calling and equipping them to serve those in their communities from a position of strength and grace. As restoration efforts continue and new disasters threaten, please continue to pray:

  • For those who have suffered loss in the midst of these crises
  • For Alliance churches in the regions affected by hurricanes Idalia and Hillary as they help those in their communities with rebuilding and recovery efforts
  • For those who remain in the path of severe storms as hurricane season commences
  • For those in Maui who have lost loved ones in the fires. Pray also for long-term recovery efforts and for search and rescue and medical teams that have experienced extreme trauma throughout this ordeal.
  • For long-term recovery (both emotional and physical) of the community as well as for search and rescue teams, who have witnessed much heartache and trauma throughout this ordeal. Pray specifically for those who suffered injury or loss. 
  • For our Alliance chaplains who facilitate safe spaces where military and VA personnel can share experiences, grieve losses, and find strength in unity as recovery carries on. Their unwavering presence has provided hope and healing to the many people affected by the Maui fires. If you’d like to contribute to the recovery efforts in Maui, please visit

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