Miami Beach pastor J. P. Funk woke up Thursday morning to the news that a condo building only about a mile from his church had collapsed, leaving more than 150 people missing in the rubble. At least two people connected to Calvary Chapel Miami Beach lived in the building, including the mother of one of its members.
Funk’s focus immediately turned to the disaster—but he worried that his congregation wouldn’t be able to help in the crucial early days of search and rescue. Half its staff was on vacation, and they initially had no way to access the disaster site, which was surrounded by law enforcement and clouded by smoke. “You can see the smoke from smoldering ruins reminiscent of 9/11,” he told CT.
As the news began to air footage of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, with its fallen-away side and piles of concrete below, local churches responded the best way they knew how: They showed up to offer support for first responders and distraught families and gathered to pray for miracles as the rescue efforts went on day by day.
The 12-story beachside building was home to an international mix of foreign retirees, South American immigrants, and Orthodox Jews. The closest church is right across the street, a Spanish-speaking congregation called Casa.
Casa offered up its building to law enforcement and quickly sent out calls for members to bring snacks and drinks. Volunteers walked through the busy tangle of media and rescue workers to deliver refreshments and words of encouragement.
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Source: Christianity Today