On the first of December, Marshal, a pastor at Gold Coast Chapel, moved his family to an Upper Coomera property. Their plan for their home and property was to renovate the shed to host church and youth group gatherings for their community.

Just weeks later, on Christmas Day, while setting up a new basketball hoop with his children, Marshal saw the storm approaching. By the late hours of the evening—without any warning—the super storm turned vicious. Winds in excess of 150kph stripped and snapped trees throughout the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim, resulting in hundreds of homes damaged with widespread blackouts affecting tens of thousands more, many for more than two weeks.

Watch Pastor Marshal’s Story

“You’d hear cracking all over the place, like trees cracking. I mean, we’re surrounded by trees. I was standing, waiting for a flash of lightning. And with each flash of lightning, you could see just a mound of trees fallen.”

The following morning, Marshal and his family were trapped in their property. State Emergency Services were required to cut their way through dozens of fallen trees and debris to provide access to the main road. In the weeks following, like many residents who lived on rural property, Marshal’s home went without power and access to their rainwater tanks.

Assessing the devastation and counting the cost to clear fallen debris—compounded by the uncertainty around insurance and the ability to meet council clean-up deadlines—Marshal quickly found himself stuck, overwhelmed with where to start.

“We only moved in here one month. First of December we moved here, and the 26th of December, it’s like, wow, what a devastation you’ve got. So we’re like, ‘oh, wow, this has set us back’.”

Meeting Samaritan’s Purse assessors, Marshal and his family received clarification on how to start clearing the debris on his property without interfering with the ongoing insurance assessment. Over two days, more than a dozen volunteers worked to clear Marshal’s property, moving several trailer-loads of branches and chopped up trees to the kerb where they could be collected by the council’s clean-up services.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve seen them just turn out, young and old all from around Australia putting their hands to the plough. The sense of relief, you could just breathe a bit and go, ‘oh man, it’s not all on me’.”

Marshal was now overwhelmed in a totally different way, witnessing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from all over Australia come alongside his family to live out their faith in a practical way, all in Jesus’ name. The help he has received from Samaritan’s Purse has put him forward in a way he had never imagined. Now he is able to re-open his home to receive church and youth groups to come together, fulfilling their family’s calling to serve their community again.

“So, you know, the vision for the property was to use it for blessing people and helping people. And that’s what we are committed to do.”

“When they turn up and they’ve done what they’ve done, I feel like it’s broken the back of it, you know? And I feel like the burden, the loss, I’m like, ‘oh, well, I’m going to smack this thing back’. It came and gave us a good hiding, but that’s not going to knock us down. We’ll just get up and say, let’s go.”

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