Earlier this year, we had the privilege to be a small part in something much bigger than our Indiana based auto operation. We were contacted by the awesome folks at GAiN, the humanitarian arm of Cru, as they were gearing up to head to Wilmington, North Carolina in response to the disasters caused by Hurricane Florence. They called us needing a truck, one built to withstand disaster. As soon as we heard from them, we wanted to equip them with what they needed and quickly. We heard from GAiN on a Wednesday, we found and won the right truck for them at an auction on Thursday, and we delivered it to them on Friday where it then deployed to Florence on Saturday. After some time had passed, a bit after the response efforts, we spoke to Matt Baehr. Matt functions as the Director of Corporate Engagement and Aid Procurement for GAiN. He generously shared a bit about GAiN’s story along with the stories that came from responding to the disaster and damage.
First, we talked GAiN. He explained that their mission is to express the kindness of Jesus in the toughest places on earth by relieving suffering, restoring dignity, and revealing hope. They also provide humanitarian coaching and resources to their Cru partners who work in more than 190 countries of the world. To accomplish this mission, they utilize three main programs: Food and Agriculture, Clean Water, and Critical Aid.
Next, we talked response efforts. Matt explained that they arrived in Wilmington, NC the day after the eye of Florence left the region. They immediately started serving Cru staff, their main church partner The Bridge Church, the church members, and all of their connections. Through this networking strategy the team was the very first organization to respond in Leland, NC where a community had experienced 8-10 feet of raw sewage water. Soon after, they were connected and able to respond to the worsening effects of Hurricane Michael through church partners, in Panama City Beach, FL.
We began to see, through talking with Matt, the mission of GAiN tangibly lived out. They not only took a team of 12 staff members and volunteers who strapped up their boots to aid, but they resourced, organized, and coached in attempts to extend their impact beyond their own physical reach. The staff and volunteers were there for the first 2 weeks, after each storm hit the ground, as they partnered with local churches to facilitate dozens of local volunteers to come alongside of them. Moving forward, their church partners will work with Cru’s Campus ministry to put together groups of college students that will help during breaks from school. They will continue to be the glue that resources, coaches, and supports the church and the Cru volunteers. Matt expressed how vital equipment and transportation is for what they do. “We can’t serve people if we can’t get to them or if we can’t transport critically needed aid to them. Having reliable, effective, and strategic transportation is an essential component of the ministry God calls us to be a part of.”
Lastly, we talked about the experience. We wanted to get a look into what they were seeing as they provided aid and to know what was impacting the team. The main takeaway? Hope and unity. “The biggest surprise was the way in which people laid aside all differences in the wake of a disaster to help each other. When everyone in a community loses the entire first floor of their homes, or the wind blows their roof off, they understand each other and go out of their way to help and make sure others will be okay. The climate in our culture can feel so hostile until a disaster happens and then people will harmoniously serve one another. Your differences don’t matter when you’re all covered in sewage water.”
Below, we’ve included a snapshot that tells the story of a man who was impacted by GAiN and their local partner, The Bridge Church. The snapshot is a piece of an update that was sent out to those who generously gave to GAiN’s relief efforts. We hope you find Tom’s story, along with the story of GAiN’s active work to be the hands and feet of the church, to be just as encouraging and inspiring as we did. Stay tuned and connected with us as we will be continuing to tell the #WhatDrivesYou stories of our amazing partners, customers, and friends. Let’s stay in touch!