If you or your loved ones have ever attended a Bible study, maybe you’ve heard someone talk about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. It’s one of the few stories relayed by all four of the Gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Essentially, Jesus used a couple fish and a few scant loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people. The book of Matthew emphasizes that the total number of people was even higher than that: “The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
Those following media coverage as Tropical Storm Florence roared ashore in the Carolinas may have heard other scriptural references, too. Some people are describing the ongoing surge of rain and water as eerily reminiscent of the Great Flood.
The book of Genesis details how Noah was able to ride out this flood by building a massive ark. But for thousands of coastal Carolina residents, the day-to-day reality looks much more bleak and ominous.
Vox recently reported a frightening National Weather Service figure. Across North Carolina alone, Florence has so far unloaded roughly 8 trillion gallons of rain.
That volume is sufficient to fill more than 12 million Olympic-size swimming pools. And the water just keeps on coming.
That’s why social media is applauding the stirring story of Shelli Tench from Wake County, North Carolina. Local ABC affiliate WTVD reports that Tench recently felt called to help more than 400 evacuees sheltering in nearby Garner Magnet High School.
She prayed fervently, then headed straight to the Walmart on NC-42 with $50 in hand. She’d been told that these displaced residents had practically nothing but the storm-ravaged clothes on their back.
But when store manager Jeffrey Jobes learned about Tench’s one-woman quest, he resolved to leverage the power of teamwork. “We knew we had to go above and beyond,” he told WTVD.
Instead of just giving Tench a discount, Jobes proceeded to help Tench round up nearly $1,300 worth of vital supplies and store merchandise. “He armed me with one of his associates (Alex) and a shopping cart and told her to fill it … on him,” Tench wrote on Facebook.
The long-time employee noted that it’s simply the Walmart way, explaining, “It’s how I’ve been raised all throughout the company.”
Of course, the shelter occupants were elated to see Tench arrive with her substantial care package. But evidently, this was only the opening act.
Tench awoke the next morning to a follow-up text from Jobes. Just seven little words, really — yet they carried the power to move hundreds of hearts, and transform lives.
“How is everything this morning?” the resolute message read. “Need anything?”
A jubilant Tench asked the shelter for a wish list of basic provisions, then shared it with Jobes. “Give me 30 minutes and come see me,” he quickly replied.
Tench arrived to find so many supplies that they packed every last inch of her minivan. She described her reaction as “dumbfounded.”
As Jobes explained to WTVD, he wants the community to understand “that we’re here to help.” Tench heralded this faithful sense of neighborly spirit in a Facebook post that has since been shared over 48,000 times — and counting.
“When it comes down to a crisis, we pull together,” she said. “We are one family.”
And Jobes echoed similar sentiments in his staunch dedication to providing grateful Florence victims with deli food, diapers, and other modern-day “loaves and fishes” equivalents. “That’s why we’re here,” he proclaimed, “and what we fight for.”
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