director ’ s letter

VISION: We strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those affected by disasters. MISSION: We respond to disasters, rebuild homes, and restore hope by organizing and empowering volunteers in the U.S. and Canada.

God is great, God is good

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and hundreds of miles of surrounding communities. So much loss of life and property. At that time, it was one of the most destructive hurricanes imaginable. As the storm unfolded, the world watched in horror, wondering why more couldn’t be done to help. The commercial airline schedules were in shambles, so I flew down on a private plane piloted by Steve Craven, who, like so many people, helped at the drop of a hat. I will never forget what I saw on the ground. Unimaginable destruction. So much trauma. So many vulnerable people that even the most seasoned responders didn’t know where to begin. I did the best I could to assess the damages that week—a process that would ultimately take years—and boarded the private plane again to return home. I was handed half a sandwich. I had forgotten to eat that day. Overwhelmed and exhausted, I sat there in the single engine aircraft as we took off for home. Growing up on the family farm, we always bowed our heads to say grace before the meal. Instinctively I bowed my head to say a prayer…but there were no words. Except for the childlike prayer that rose to my lips:

CORE VALUES: Faith in Action Caring Relationships Working Together

Behind the Hammer is published quarterly by Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and is available for free upon request. This magazine shares the stories of MDS work in the U.S. and Canada and of the more than 5,000 annual volunteers who are the core of MDS. The stories are meant to encourage people to continue expressing the love of God through the work of MDS. Printed on Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) certified paper using environmentally friendly plant-based inks. MDS Executive Director: Kevin King MDS Canada Executive Director: Ross Penner Communications Manager: Jesse Huxman Production Coordination: Jesse Huxman, Judith Rempel Smucker Writers: John Longhurst, Susan Kim Photographs: Paul Hunt, John Longhurst, MDS volunteers Designer: Julie Kauffman STAY CONNECTED If you have story ideas, need subscription information, want to donate or volunteer, please contact us:

God is great, God is good, And we thank him for our food. By his hands we all are fed, Give us, Lord, our daily bread.

In that hour of total depletion…it was like the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. That when I am weak…God is strong. As you read about the good works of people of all generations in this issue, it strikes me that they are remembering God. They are placing God in the center. As we care for people who have been affected by disasters, may we all, in our highs and lows, receive God’s incredible grace, which I believe gives us everything we need to become servant leaders. Even in times when we feel depleted, when we have no words, no strength, and nothing to eat but half a sandwich in our lap. May God give us our daily bread.

MDS U.S. Office 583 Airport Road, Lititz, PA 17543 USA tel: 717-735-3536 | toll-free: 800-241-8111 fax: 717-735-0809 MDS Canada Office 200-600 Shaftesbury Blvd. Winnipeg, MB R3P 2J1 Canada tel: 204-261-1274 toll-free within Canada: 866-261-1274 fax: 204-261-1279

Kevin King Executive Director, MDS


behind the hammer

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