ENGLEWOOD, FL — You could barely see the petite woman standing on her porch behind the mangled trees and debris from Hurricane Ian.
Despite the massive destruction, the 74-year-old woman who goes by “Christmas” greeted Randy Martin and Will Murphy, two chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT), welcoming them into her Englewood, Florida, home.
“I wish I could offer some tea,” she added sweetly while guiding them to her sunroom, which serves as a makeshift bedroom after the Category 4 storm.
Sitting on a pullout sofa with Bibles and devotionals strewn across it, Christmas shared how she didn’t expect to survive the catastrophic hurricane, which has claimed over 100 lives.
I just felt ‘Well, it’s a storm and it’ll pass like Irma.’ But when I saw the windows shaking it was like the waves coming and the ocean was going to cover me up.
Randy Martin – Billy Graham RRT Chaplain:
So when we first met Christmas, she had no food, no water, no ice, no electricity. The homeowner from the other house came over and gave her that stuff. And then myself and my partner, a fellow partner, came over and we prayed with her and listened to her story.
They took the time to come and they care and they helped me and they cared for me.
So she told me she’s been a missionary all of her life. Her gifts is at Christmas time, which is why she got the name Christmas, which is why she loves giving gifts and being with other people and bringing joy and hope and love to other people. She’s in a much better place now than the first day we saw her. Her needs are being met and she just has an incredible love and faith in Jesus. I think she’s going to be okay.
About the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) proclaims the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. From its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., the BGEA directs a wide range of domestic and international ministries, including: large-scale festivals led by evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham; The Billy Graham Library; The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, located outside of Asheville, N.C.; SearchforJesus.net, an Internet evangelism project reaching thousands of people for Christ online; and many others through print, television, telephone, radio and the Internet.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into an international network of chaplains in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 300 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.