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'Jesus Will Bring Us Through It': NC Churches Move into Action as Florence Makes Landfall


LUMBERTON, NC – As Florence, now a Category 1 hurricane, slowly moves inland, cities and towns are feeling the power of the storm.

The giant storm, which measures about 500 miles across, made landfall in North Carolina early Friday morning and is already flooding coastal streets.

While the bands of rain haven't yet reached inland cities and towns, residents are continuing to prepare.

"Our main focus right now is making sure everyone is prepared to have the supplies that they need – water, flashlights, the basic necessities just to make it through the storm," said Jeff Blackburn, lead pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton, North Carolina.

Pastor Blackburn used to work as an electrician. He's now using those talents to help his church members keep their lights on.

"I never realized God would be able to use those skills along with sharing the Gospel and making disciples," he explained. "God has brought the two together and He's been able to use that skill set."

One church member, Christy Moore, said of the pastor, "He's pretty incredible and he's a great friend of ours as well, someone you can always count on."

Many North Carolinians decided to wait out the storm inside shelters. Lumberton High School is serving as one of four shelters in the area. Inside, about 300 people are hoping they will have a home to go back to.

"I just thank God we are here and pray to God He brings us through the storm," said shelter occupant Michael Black.

Likewise, Sarah Oxendine, a resident of Rennert, North Carolina, is also relying on her faith.

"For me, I'm scared of the storm, but I know when I'm serving a man called Jesus. I know He will bring us through it," she said.

Meanwhile, leaders of other churches are planning to hand out food and supplies to whoever needs it.

"We had a meeting with our deacon board and they all agreed to do it again this year. What we will do is transfer this building here into a center of distribution," explained Mike Bowen, pastor of East Lumberton Baptist Church.

Although their faith is being tested, people are keeping Jesus close to their heart.

"God's going to take care of me," said Lumberton resident Angela Culler. "Even if I lose everything, God's going to bring it back. He does."

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