More than 3,000 strangers will be in Tupelo by today to help Tupelo recovery from the April 28 tornado. They are collectively Eight Days of Hope, founded by Tupeloan Steve Tybor, and the volunteers will come from every part of the United States.
Their work is based on Christian faith, and the specific tasks in Tupelo will focus on 165 uninsured or underinsured homeowners whose lives were thrown into disarray by the April twister.
Volunteers from 37 states in many cases have had had earlier experiences with “Eight Days” projects, and they come with a plan, skills, materials and seasoned commitment.
Their work animates and enlivens the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Tupelo’s first responsibility is follow Jesus’ words, too, welcoming these strangers who bring gifts of time, talent, money and love, to borrow from an old, well-known evangelical hymn.
It is certain their work and fellowship will make Tupelo a fuller, spiritually richer city.