Finding Hope in the Midst of a (Literal) Train Wreck

As shared by a first-time customer to KARM Stores …

I had never shopped at your store before, but my office was closed due to a train derailment in Blount County. As I was pumping gas at Kroger, I noticed your store. I thought I would pop in and look for some cleats for my grandson. It seems like he outgrows a pair every other week. I had no clue I was about to see the hands and feet of Jesus in action.

As I walked in, I noticed a staff member and another lady in deep conversation on the sofa near the entrance. I was greeted by the staff member, who quickly returned to her discussion with the customer. What I overhead so deeply impacted me, I wanted to share my experience with you.

The staff member was Stephanie, the store manager. As I listened to their conversation, I heard Stephanie encouraging the customer, who had been evacuated from her home due to the train derailment. The customer talked about her family leaving their home in a rush in the middle of the night, unsure of what was happening or how real the danger was.

They had left their home with nothing – no clothes, no medicine, no food – and payday was still days away. They had been informed once they reached the holding area that they could be out of their home for 24-48 hours and they could not return until the evacuation was lifted to get anything. What Stephanie said next surprised me.

I’m going to help you find resources to meet all these needs, but I wanted you to listen to me. God has a plan. God knew that train was going to derail and he is not surprised or caught off guard. He knew you would need help and is already taking care of each need. God is still in control even in the midst of chaos. He never changes!

The customer breathed a deep breath as though she may not have been able to breathe for hours and she relaxed a little. I wasn’t surprised by what Stephanie said; I believe every word. I was surprised by how she said it. There was no hushed tones or fear of being overheard. It was unashamed and unapologetic.

Let me make a couple calls and see what I can find out. Would you like a bottle of water while you wait?

The customer said yes and Stephanie quickly returned with the water. She was only gone a few minutes. When she retuned she told the customer to select two outfits for each member of her family that needed clothes. Partnered churches and KARM Stores would cover the cost. When I finished shopping I was in the line right behind this customer. She had four pairs of pants, four shirts and two sets of pajamas, all of which cost her nothing. Stephanie asked if she could pray for the lady and I listened as the sweetest prayer was prayed over this lady and her family. Then she was gone.

I asked Stephanie what I could do to help KARM. She told me about donating to feed meals through feed the need. Then she said I could help tell the KARM story of restoring lives in Jesus’ name and shared with me the website where I could read others stories. This letter is my first attempt of doing just that.

Thank you KARM Stores for renewing this old man’s hope that there are still those who joyfully show Christ’s love to others. Thank you for using your blessings of donated items to bless my community. Thank you, Stephanie and KARM for shining the light of Christ in Blount County.

Mike E



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