As media outlets begin wrapping up their coverage of the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in the Staten Island, New York area, residents are just beginning to contemplate reconstruction from both a physical and spiritual perspective.
For Rich Schnur, a member of the Oasis Christian Center and father of two, the super storm which ravaged his Midland Beach neighborhood just one month ago was nothing less than a nightmare. The storm surge caused by Sandy's fierce winds ripped through his block, flooding both of his vehicles and reaching up to the first floor in his home making it uninhabitable for quite some time.
Schnur lost many of his possessions in the storm, including pictures of his children as babies and other irreplaceable items. But despite the hardship of loss and relocation, his hope has not dwindled during his clean-up and reconstruction efforts.
"It's all overwhelming," said Schnur to The Christian Post regarding the recovery process. "I would say it's 60 percent overwhelming. Just to see everybody coming out when we're at the house and working. People from all over the world. [We even had] people from Stockholm that came out [who] saw it on the news. They just wanted to come out and be a part of the relief effort."
He also stated that watching the church function as one body during the relief effort has overwhelmed him in a positive way.
" [Christians] all have one thing in common which is God and some churches are more legalistic than others, but it's amazing to watch all those churches put aside their differences of opinion and just serve God like we're called to serve," said Schnur.
He admits that his attitude drifted towards numbness to God shortly after the storm, but claims that he never questioned God as to why this storm affected his family the way it did.
To Schnur, his faith has been strengthened during these tragic circumstances through the outpouring of aid from local churches. This is confirmation to him that God has not forgotten him or his neighborhood.
"It's just reassuring to [my family] to know that God is speaking to people and putting us on people's minds," said Schnur. "It's just reassuring every day [to know] that God is here with us and he's using this circumstance to pull us closer to him, especially to those that don't know him."
Schnur's church, the Oasis Christian Center, was also affected by the storm and temporarily turned into a relief center. He invited many victims in the neighborhood to his local church who would never step foot in the building otherwise, and they asked many questions related to the Christian faith.
Despite his circumstances, serving God still remains a priority to him, as Schnur never stopped ministering to his ravaged neighborhood.
"We still want to be part of the relief effort," he said. That's just what we're called to do. "That's what our heart is."
Schnur hopes to move back into his home for Christmas week to return normalcy to his children, but knows that is yet another thing that he needs to leave in God's hands.
He spent Thanksgiving with at his parent's house in New Jersey and stressed the importance of good company over location.
"As long as [my family] is all together, it doesn't matter where we spend [the holidays], and it doesn't matter what we eat," he said. "The fact is that we're here, and God saved us."