“As long as he has the infection, he remains unclean.
He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.”
The above instructions were designed to improve communal living in relation to infectious diseases. Isolation was the solution. The ones affected found themselves “living outside the camp.”
Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries response to the Fire has focused heavily on those who are “living outside the camp.” These people are deeply affected by the fire yet do not qualify for help from the government or the Dollywood Foundation. Those systems are doing good work but are focused on those who lost houses. Those “living outside the camp” may or may not have lost a house but have experienced other losses: jobs, vehicles, rental apartments or houses, or income due to a depressed season. They may have gathered extra expenses: health related problems from the fire, replacement of household goods, cleaning that was not covered by landlord or insurance, vehicle repair, increased rent (if they have found a place to live), or lack of insurance or denial of claims by insurance. Maybe they are afraid to apply for any systematic or program assistance. They are on the outside.
Our responses have moved through emergency moments to immediate needs to transitional help. We are now deep in that transitional help and God has held us with those who find themselves living on the outside of the camp.
Our responses remain individual. Our giving is face to face. Our conversations are personal. Our actions are rent help, gift card help (food mostly), new household appliances and items, vehicles gifted, medical bills paid, mattresses replaced, and so on.
We remain in the guide of the Holy Spirit: stop here, listen here, respond here, speak here, do this now. We find that if we commit to a need, the money or materials for that need arrives. When we hesitate, God holds back. When we act, God affirms.
We are the quiet ministry working as God leads. Don Hammonds taught me (Bill) to “do what is right and don’t tell anybody.” Paul Hall taught me: “it does not matter who gets the credit as long as the work gets done.” We have followed these lessons and acted within them. We are doing a valid and valuable ministry.
Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries is a part of a movement in the area to recover life and to love one another and to share God’ love. It is an honor to be in this team with so many others of all different styles and expressions. There are organizations and teams and local action groups and individuals. My affirmation is that it is an honor to be part of it all. We are working accurately as God is leading us.
We need you to stay involved in praying, serving, and giving. We need you to give to the on-going ministries and expenses of Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries as well as to the Fire Ministry. We need you!
We are deep in a painfully beautiful ministry. Thanks be to God!