In the aftermath of an EF-2 tornado that struck DeLand on Tuesday, Aug. 18, Tomoka’s DeLand campus stepped up to the plate and used this tragic moment as an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

“I think what sticks out the most is the emotional toll it took on everyone. You don’t realize the emotions until you are in the midst of things,” said Autumn Markland, who is on staff at the DeLand campus, and was right in the middle of recovery efforts along with her husband, Ben. “It feels very rewarding to go love on our neighbors and to show them that we are here for them.”

The DeLand campus spent most of Wednesday clearing tree limbs and debris from people’s yards, handing out water and snacks to neighbors and power crews, along with cooking burgers and hot dogs to feed the community.

“We just want to serve,” said DeLand Campus Pastor Michael Stovall. “We want to come alongside our neighbors and demonstrate the love of God in real and tangible ways. It is the heartbeat of Tomoka. It’s the way that God has structured Tomoka, to just serve our communities.”

One of Tomoka’s neighbors was so pleased after members of the church put tarp on his roof, he allowed them to use his front yard as a place to serve burgers and hot dogs to people, according to Ben Markland. “Little acts of kindness that aren’t that hard, and are just a little inconvenient, can make a big difference to people,” said Markland.

Another member of the DeLand campus’ staff, Shelley Morrow, was touched by what she saw in the wake of the aftermath. According to Morrow, people were calling her immediately after the storm touched down to see how they could help.

“I see the light of Christ shining bright in the people who are calling and checking on each other, offering a listening ear to those who have just lived through a terrifying experience. I see the light of Christ shining bright through sweaty bodies, smiling faces, giving hearts and listening ears,” said Morrow. “I see life in the words, ‘DeLand, I love you.’”

Tomoka would like to ask everyone to please keep praying for the DeLand community as they continue to push forward in the recovery process. Please consider donating food and water to the DeLand campus, so we can continue distributing it to people in the surrounding areas. Gift cards to Publix and WalMart would also be a huge help. People who lost power will need to replace groceries. We are also accepting donations of school supplies to help out our neighbors with children heading back to school. Feel free to drop both of these off at the DeLand campus. You may also help out by heading over to assist with cleanup efforts. If you’re not able to make it out to DeLand to offer assistance, you may also donate to Tomoka’s Disaster Relief Fund at the button below. Thank you for all of your help.