“None of the GenSend team members had been around Orthodox Jewish communities before, but seeing the rabbis come in and pray specific prayers over the day and prepare the food in a certain way was such a blessing. Just to be allowed into their settings that are normally more exclusive was a gift! The Jewish community in Surfside really surrounded victims with love, and it was a privilege to witness that agape-type care in action. It meant a lot to the Jewish leaders and organizations that we came alongside them with no ulterior motives. That built trust, but other Christians had already done the groundwork to build a reputation of service in the city, opening the doors for us to be involved.”
This is what one Send Relief partner and GenSend team leader had to share about the ongoing relief work being done in Surfside, Florida, after the tragic condo collapse on June 24.
With Surfside being a predominantly Jewish community, a GenSend team in Miami was able to join forces with Yedidim USA, a Jewish charity that immediately began response efforts in the form of mobile laundry units and a 24-hour kosher kitchen. The kitchen quickly became a logistics hub and family reunification center, with first responders stopping for meals, survivors receiving updates on missing loved ones and trauma counselors comforting those who had just received tragic news.
The GenSend team’s main tasks of delivering food, making pizzas, sweeping and mopping and keeping drinks stocked may seem menial, but these small errands were the catalysts for meaningful faith conversations in which they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to engage.
“I know that God sent the GenSenders that He did because I had fulltime kitchen workers on my team who had chef experience and were able to help in very practical ways,” the team lead commented.
Face-to-face interactions with other volunteers often began with the question of why the team was there and what kept them motivated in the face of such tragedy—this provided unique opportunities to share the gospel with not only the victims, but also the plethora of other religious and non-profit workers who had traveled to Surfside to do relief work.
Our Send Relief partner further stated, “The biggest thing the city is facing right now is the overwhelming collective grief of losing nearly 100 beloved community members – going to the synagogue and having people’s seats empty. It was overwhelming to see the memorial of entire families who were wiped out. So, I would ask people to pray for churches who are willing to fill the gaps in services, for Send Relief to find new opportunities to help these hurting families, for cooperation among the different response agencies and for God to make Himself known to those suffering and display His sovereignty in this situation.”
Published July 13, 2021