“Life is full of storms,” said Bud Friedrich. “You either drown in them or you grow.” Friedrich and Pastor Sid Langley came from Arkansas where they know storms well, especially tornadoes and the destruction they leave behind.
The two come to the rescue after devastation takes place when they are called upon by Samaritan’s Purse, and they have been doing it, on their own dime, for the past 20 years.
“They call us for the bad stuff, Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes and EF 4 and 5 tornadoes,” said Friedrich, who owns a sod company; Langley owns an excavating and paving company. “We were heading to Houston, but we were asked to wait when we saw Irma on the radar.”
As of Wednesday morning, they had cleared 15 homes and one church lot in the Lower Keys. They like to be the behind-the-scenes guys, noting that none of this is their work, it’s all God’s work.
When they showed up to clean a house on Palmetto Drive on Big Pine Key, they went to ask Pastor Steve of Vineyard Christian Center if they could park their big rigs in the parking lot. Divine intervention: Pastor Steve quickly showed them his blocked driveway at the relief center he is running off County Road at the warehouse-like center. “I prayed for you guys last night, and here you are,” said Pastor Steve. A few hours later the driveway was unblocked and the stream of relief supplies was flowing smoothly.
On the way from Fort Lauderdale (their flagship mega-church, Calvary Chapel, is located there), they picked up Pastor Jeff Denis from Islamorada. “We like to have someone with us who knows the area,” he said.
They had no idea where they would be, or how they ended up in Marathon, then Big Pine Key, No Name Key and Little Torch, helping people and spreading God’s word. “To have a 300-pound gorilla man tear up on you and ask for a hug is important,” said Langley. “we go where God points us.”
This trip in particular, they heard more than ever that they have been answers to prayers. “We hope people won’t shake their fist at God for bringing the storm, but thank him for sending people to help them get through it,” said Denis.
Sue and Doug Harrison of Little Torch Key are those people who lost everything in Irma. Did they get their yard cleared out? You betcha. “What took them three hours would have taken us three months,” said Sue. “They made a very bleak day bright. It’s wonderful to see the goodness in the world.”
There are many faith-based organizations in town helping feed, clothe, house, and help those affected by Hurricane Irma. One of them, Samaritan’s Purse, is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970.