If you have been watching the news, you know that the state of West Virginia has been hard hit by massive flooding in the Greenbrier Valley, including the town of White Sulphur Springs, where the beautiful Greenbrier resort is located. As you know, Janet and I consider this our favorite travel destination and spend time at the Greenbrier several times each year. I am sorry to report that for all intents and purposes, it has sustained quite a bit of damage from flooding and the resort has been closed. Local broadcasters are calling the weather of this past week the kind that only comes once every thousand years!
Several years ago, Mr. Justice, the local owner of the Greenbrier, negotiated the Greenbrier Classic Golf Tournament and several days ago, it was announced that the Classic has been called off for this year. There is far too much damage to the courses to be ready for play within a month. Furthermore, the casino, located below the drive and entrance to the main building, has also suffered water damage and it is unknown when it will re-open.
Needless to say, the town is in crisis and may owners in the local Greenbrier Sporting Club have made donations to the Red Cross and other relief efforts in the area. Mr. Justice must be suffering financially during this crisis but his only concern is for the people of the area and how he can assist the community to minimize the negative impact on families in White Sulphur Springs. Employees of the Greenbrier are working delivering food and water to the local townspeople.
And even though the resort has been closed to guests and others with reservations, Mr. Justice has invited those people who need assistance and have lost their own homes to move into the Greenbrier so they will have a place to stay. All this without charge to the neighborhoods and town affected by the flooding. It is also noteworthy that the world renowned Greenbrier Clinic, located at the resort, is also providing free vaccines and shots, as well as medical care, to the surrounding areas. It is truly a grand effort drawing a small community even closer together.
The social media platforms are buzzing with stories of financial donations and the kindnesses that are being extended to the local towns through the efforts of the Greenbrier and its staff. And knowing the reputation of the resort and its owner, I would expect nothing less from “America’s Resort”, the nickname for this fabulous place. In fact, I am proud that Janet and I enjoy staying at a place that holds social responsibility in such high esteem. It’s a rare place that puts its own needs well behind the needs of the staff and community at large.
If you know much about West Virginia, it is a wild, wonderful, friendly, beautiful state. Many years ago, I used to travel there on business, long before Janet and I ever stayed at the Greenbrier. I became familiar with many of its communities and back roads. While the state has all these wonderful qualities, it is undeniably one of the poorest places in the country. Many of the folks who live there will never have a real chance to get out of poverty and their work ethic is quite remarkable. From the coal mines to service industries, people spend a lifetime doing the same things year after year without much hope of acquiring any significant degree of wealth. This makes the current relief effort and community spirit even more compelling.
It is a simple case of people helping people – led by the efforts of Mr. Justice and the staff of the Greenbrier. Tonight’s verse illustrates the way that Jesus thinks about acts of kindness.
We are told that the disciples were having a conversation with Jesus and He says to them, in Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
My encouragement this evening is that difficult times come to each of us. That’s when members of the community are to band together and help one another out. That’s what Jesus expects us and encourages us to do. My prayer is that you will be the hands and feet of Jesus when tragedy comes to your community. Because just as you would like assistance from others in times of trouble, it feels even better to give to others during these tough times. Just ask the people of White Sulphur Springs… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…