← Back to News

Building Faith While Rebuilding A Community

This summer Luther Springs welcomed 233 high school youth and their advisors from across the United States at our Disaster Response Mission Weeks. And what an exciting summer it has been!

Over the course of seven weeks, volunteers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Florida worked at 6 homes, 2 churches, 1 community farmyard and 3 food banks. They painted buildings and parking lots, removed rotted floorboards, hauled out flood damaged debris, trimmed trees, weeded, raked, and hauled away tons of yard debris as well as debris from neighboring homes and businesses. They unloaded food trucks, sorted food, created food boxes for families and food backpacks for children and youth – most of whom are still struggling with food scarcity as a result of the 2022 hurricanes. They heard powerful witness from Pastor Sharon Taylor as she shared her story and the story of St. Peter Lutheran Church in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Pastor Sharon and her husband, Pastor Tim Taylor, were among those families impacted by both Hurricane Ian and Disaster Response Mission Weeks volunteers.

After a particular week of service, Pastor Tim shared some heartfelt words of thanksgiving with the team: “Pastor Sharon and I are almost beyond words to express our gratitude to you and your team from Luther Springs for the amazing work that they did here in Fort Myers. It has been 9 months since hurricane Ian destroyed much of this area, and displaced so many families, including us. We are so grateful that God continues to show up and show off. God dropped your amazing team here in Fort Myers at just the right time. From those who worked in the heat at St. Peter, to those who served one of our most vulnerable communities painted – THANK YOU!!!!!!! We know that God is good, all the time and we know that your team was truly a Godsend to us and this community. Blessings and Peace on you all and your ministry!”

In addition to volunteer work, participants also enjoyed fun in the sun! Each week included a 3-hour boat tour to see dolphins playing in the water and to enjoy some water play themselves on a sandbar off Siesta Key. Pastor Eric Olaf Olsen from our host church, Faith Lutheran in Sarasota, led a beautiful worship service with communion on the beach at sunset each Thursday evening.
Deacon Sue Mendenhall, Luther Springs Co-Executive and Program Director, expressed her gratitude for those who helped make this program possible: “Many, many thanks to the support of the Florida-Bahamas Synod and Pastor Rob Rose, who assisted us with not only funding to make this great work happen but in making contacts with those we could help. A huge shout out to Faith Lutheran Church and Pastor Eric for hosting us during our seven weeks. And there would have been some hard floors to sleep on without the generous donations for air mattresses from St. Mark Lutheran Church in Dunedin, Florida, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Clearwater. Thank you to everyone who made this wonderful ministry a reality! We look forward to more Disaster Response Mission week in 2024!”

Your gifts to Luther Springs and those that helped to provide supplies and materials to support volunteers during these special ministry weeks continue to impact lives beyond camp. To support programs like this and others at Luther Springs, you can send a gift via mail to NovusWay Ministries, C/O Luther Springs, PO Box 830, Arden, NC 28704 or Give Online Here.

For more information on this program and how you can participate next year, please contact Deacon Sue at 828-209-6312 or SMendenhall@NovusWay.org.


Click here to download a printable version of this story in the September 2023 edition of our Link.