Samaritan’s Purse teams are cleaning out homes and ministering to the hurting in flooded areas of Germany.
“It was my dream but now it’s really a nightmare.”
For Victoria, the past three summers living along the Ahr River in western Germany were spent relaxing alongside friends and neighbors, exchanging laughter and homemade baked goods.
“This was my dream apartment,” Victoria said. “It was so beautiful to live here…The people here, we all stand together and have so much fun together and we help each other all the time, in the garden, in the kitchen, everywhere.”
Now, those days are only memories as ferocious flooding devastated communities along the Ahr River in July. Killing more than 200 people and displacing hundreds of families, the waters were so powerful that they broke down concrete walls and, in some cases, destroyed entire homes.
Samaritan’s Purse is partnering with To All Nations to aid Victoria and others who have been impacted by the widespread flooding in Germany’s Rhineland-Pfalz region. To date, more than 1,500 volunteers have helped over 360 individuals clean out their homes and businesses while also comforting and encouraging them.
Victoria wasn’t home as the water level rose around her apartment building—she was dealing with a storm in her personal life. Her mother is battling terminal cancer and she had spent the night with her at the hospital. Victoria’s neighbors tried to salvage as much from her apartment as they could before rushing to higher levels for safety.
“My neighbors were here in this room grabbing the cat and going upstairs and trying to save their lives because the water was so heavy and had so much power,” Victoria said. “After about 10 minutes, the whole room and apartments were full of water.”
If you are interested in joining our DART roster to be a part of these types of disaster responses, click here to apply.
New Friends Lend a Helping Hand
As Victoria returned home, she didn’t know how to process what had happened, let alone how she would manage to balance caring for her mother and sorting through a home filled with waterlogged memories.
“I’m just working, and I think that anytime when it’s getting a little bit quiet, I think then I will break down,” Victoria said. “I haven’t seen anything like this before, ever in my whole life. It’s just like a war. The apartment is completely damaged by the Ahr River.”
Samaritan’s Purse volunteers were not only available to help Victoria with the necessary physical labor, but also provide a listening ear and a shoulder for her to cry on. It was a dream of a different kind.
“It’s just a powerful dream because they’re all just like friends,” Victoria said of the volunteers working on her home. “It is just amazing and overwhelming how strangers come here and ask me how I am doing. I’m just crying [from] happiness that they are here and that they help us and they care about us.”
Volunteers have provided hope for Victoria that she can once again spend her summers on the Ahr River surrounded by her neighbors. She has a restored confidence that her apartment can be salvaged and restored.
“My new dream is that this apartment…is rebuilt and I can move here next year and build it all up again and live here with the same neighbors as before together and we have a nice place again.”
A Hands-on Gospel Message
As recovery efforts continue, volunteers are demonstrating the love of God by getting dirty.
“I think right now is the time where we have to share the Gospel with our hands,” said volunteer Heinrich Derksen. “Nothing else can show our love right now. No words, we are now preaching with our hands.”
Heinrich pastors a local church and serves as the director of a seminary in Bonn, Germany, where our teams are operating a base of operations in collaboration with non-profit To All Nations.
Together, we continue to send out teams of trained counselors to do the physical labor while also remaining available to provide spiritual aid and emotional encouragement.
Many are skeptical to receive any assistance as volunteers arrive at their home or business. They begin to ask questions as to why a group of volunteers would give up vacations and travel from around the world to help someone they don’t even know.
One man’s attitude changed from skepticism to openness after Samaritan’s Purse volunteers spent 10 hours removing buckets of mud from his cellar.
“He was quite impressed,” said program coordinator Alexander Becker. “By the end of the day, the group of Christians stood in a circle holding hands and praying. The skeptical house owner stepped to them and started crying and joined their prayer and their blessings.”
Volunteers met him literally and figuratively in the ‘mud’ of his life to remind him, and others, that God loves them and they are not alone.
“We tell them that we just want to show the love of Christians and show that Jesus loved us and now we love them,” Heinrich said. “[Families] were very thankful because they saw that we are not just preaching but we are also living what we preach. I think this is how churches can be involved worldwide. It’s so encouraging to see.”
“I think this is how churches can be involved worldwide. It’s so encouraging to see.”
Please continue to pray that our work in western Germany would open doors for the Gospel to be shared and that communities would be receptive to the love of Christ demonstrated by our volunteers and Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) members from around the world.
“I hope this international help from Samaritan’s Purse will show the love of Christ,” Heinrich said.