Sent for the Handyman

Chaplains Minister Emotional and Spiritual Care to Hurricane Sandy Victims

Sent for the Handyman

Chaplains Minister Emotional and Spiritual Care to Hurricane Sandy Victims

Ginger Sanders and her husband, Denny, drove their car into the circular driveway.  The same truck that was parked on the street in front of the one-story ranch home in Nassau County, N.Y., the day before was parked there again today.

The rust-colored door of the brick house stood open. Ginger and Denny walked to the doorway and stepped inside. No need to ring the doorbell—the house had no electricity.

“Lynn?” Ginger called out. “Hello?”

Someone came out of the back room. The same man who was there yesterday. The likely owner of the truck parked outside.

He smiled when he saw them. His blondish brown hair was tousled, as if it hadn’t been combed yet today. His ragged khaki pants, underneath a flannel shirt, were splattered with paint.

“Oh, I remember you,” he said. “You were here yesterday. Well, Lynn’s gone again. I think she had to go pick up her daughter.”

Yesterday, Lynn had just left to get gasoline when Ginger and Denny arrived.

“After you all left yesterday, I thought: Those are good people. They’re just good.”

Ginger and Denny looked at each other.

“We’re not good,” they said, almost in unison.

“This is not about us,” Ginger said. “It’s about God.”

Ginger and Denny, chaplain coordinators with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, had come to check on Lynn and offer her some words of encouragement. Lynn’s house flooded with three feet of water during Hurricane Sandy, and when Samaritan’s Purse workers came by to help her, she was distraught. The Samaritan’s Purse assessor asked the chaplains to pay Lynn a visit. But for the second day in a row, the chaplains had found Lynn’s handyman, not her.

The handyman, whose name they learned was Jerry, went on, as if they had not spoken.

“I’m not good,” he said, shaking his head in earnest. “I’m just not good. I try to be good. But I’ve done some bad things.”

Ginger and Denny sensed the Holy Spirit at work.

“Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” Denny asked.

Jerry smiled.

“Well, I know who Jesus is because my mother taught me when I was a little boy, but when I grew up I got involved in drugs and alcohol. I don’t do drugs anymore, and that’s actually where I met Lynn, at the drug rehab and in AA.”

Could it be that God sent the chaplains to this house to minister to Jerry?

“Would we be able to share with you a little more about Jesus?” Ginger asked. “If you had died in the storm, do you know for sure you would have gone to Heaven?”

Jerry pondered. “Well you know I’ve done so much bad, I don’t think my good would outweigh the bad.”

Ginger and Denny explained to Jerry that his sin was no greater than their sin, that in God’s eyes, sin is sin. The problem is that God can’t look on any sin.

Jerry said: “Well, I have never murdered anybody, but I’ve done a lot of bad stuff.

Ginger wanted to help him focus on God’s grace, not on trying to have his good deeds outweigh the bad.

“God loves you, ” she said. “And if it had only been for you, God loves you so much that He still would have sent His Son, Jesus, to die just for you.”

Tears began to roll down Jerry’s cheeks.

Denny and Ginger shared from the “Steps to Peace With God” tract. They explained to Jerry about the gap between God and man, how that gap was created by sin. And how the only way to bridge that gap was through Jesus Christ.

“A person can go to church, but that’s not good enough to get them over the gap,” Ginger said.

All along the street outside were vehicles from Samaritan’s Purse and other agencies who had come to this neighborhood to help storm victims. But all of those good deeds together could not pay for the sins of the workers and close the gap between them and God.

“You can do good works,” Ginger said. “What you’re doing here in this home is good. But there’s only one way to God. And that’s through Jesus. He says, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Do you believe that?”


“Would you like to pray and receive Him as your Lord and Savior so you can be sure that your name is written in the Book of Life and sealed by the blood?” Ginger asked. “And that nothing you’ve ever done in the past or will ever do in the future will be bad enough to erase your name? Would you honor us by allowing us to lead you in a prayer of repentance?”

Still crying, Jerry reached out to Ginger and Denny.

“Can I hold your hand?” he asked.

Placing their hands in his, Ginger and Denny prayed with Jerry as he committed his life to Christ. At the end of the prayer, Jerry put his arms around both of them.

“God sent you to me,” he said. “This fills a void in my life. I can tell that this is what I’ve been looking for.”

Ginger and Denny presented Jerry with a Billy Graham Training Bible and gave him a copy of “Steps to Peace With God.”

Again, his arms went around them in a warm embrace, and then, looking out the doorway, he said: “Here’s Lynn now. She’s just pulling up in the driveway.”

Ginger and Denny introduced themselves to Lynn and her daughter and explained what had just happened in their living room. Lynn’s eyes grew misty. Jerry was a longtime friend of the family. She’d seen him struggle with some of the same issues she had struggled with before she accepted Christ. He was doing better, but up until today he still had not found the inner peace that she had found in Christ.

Relieved that Lynn knew the Lord, Denny asked: “Would you take Jerry with you to church this Sunday?”

Lynn looked uncertainly from Denny to Ginger, then back at Denny. “Do you think he would go? Would you go ask him?”

Denny walked into the back room where Jerry was bent down tugging at the drywall at the bottom of the wall. When Denny extended Lynn’s invitation, Jerry stood upright and said: “Yes, I would love to go to church this Sunday.”

When Denny reported Jerry’s response, Lynn reached to hug Ginger. She then called out to her 15-year-old daughter to join them in prayer. After the prayer, Ginger and Denny got back to the original reason they were asked to visit Lynn.

“How are you coping with the effects of the storm itself?”

“Oh, I’m doing good,” Lynn said. “The other day when the man from Samaritan’s Purse came, I had just dealt with the insurance company, and I was having a hard time. But that has all been ironed out.”

As Ginger and Denny got back in their car to leave, they looked at each other with a knowing smile.  “We were not sent here for the homeowner,” Denny said. “We were sent here for the handyman.”

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