Hurricane Irma Impacts IWU Alumni

By: Emily Neideck

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to contact a few of our Florida alumni in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Some had fled to northern states, but some stayed in the state of Florida, preparing their homes and selves to take on the massive tropical storm. I was inspired by their strength, hope and desire to be the light of Jesus during this difficult time.

Anthony Abell
Anthony Abell

I first spoke with Anthony Abell, whose son, Clayton, is currently attending school at Indiana Wesleyan. He said:

“One of the biggest ways I’ve seen God’s presence through this is through the church. Many of the members, even through the preparations, have reached out to one another and provided goods in the shortages – things such as gas, propane, water and plywood. The church has come together unselfishly, even in their peril, to give to others.

We know God is in control. We have people in our community fretting about property and other things. We know, though, that God’s Will is going to come through. If that means that we are sitting in a tent in our front lawn after this, then that is the ministry opportunity that He’s given us in this time.”

When asked how we could pray for the Abell’s family, Anthony stated:

“First off, for protection. We are hosting people that are in evacuation zones that couldn’t get out of Florida, and really, they have no other place to go. Please just pray that they aren’t coming into another dangerous situation by being at our house.

Second, please pray that we could be Christ to those after the hurricane. We are surrounded by people who don’t believe in Jesus, so I pray that through the church’s response, they would see that our views on things are different because of The Gospel.”

Secondly, I received a response from Kris Vastbinder. She said:

“We are watching the hurricane updates, making final preparations and trusting for God’s protection. Based on past experience, we know that hurricanes can be unpredictable. Tree damage and power outages are concerns. My parents live nearby, and we are concerned for them.

We are praying for protection over everyone regardless of where the path of the hurricane leads. We had invitations to evacuate, but believe we need to be here for extended family. Thanks for your prayers and support. We look forward to seeing you on the other side of this beast.”

Sarah Mcbeath and her family
Sarah Mcbeath and her family

Sarah Mcbeath, a Florida native and a Spring 2017 IWU graduate, stated:

“Times of tension like this remind me that first off, God is so in control, and second, He can give wisdom and peace in the midst of chaos caused by factors you can’t control. Also, I’ve been able to see God’s presence through friends and family reaching out every day since Labor Day to check in on me.

I just moved into my very first apartment and to a new city that could possible look very different next week. What I do know and can hold onto is that God is in the business of redeeming this broken and storm-ridden world for His glory and good. You saw it last week with Hurricane Harvey, you’ll see it again this week, and hopefully, you can see it in how God is working in the storms of your life.”

Director of Alumni and Church Engagement, Rick Carder, has spoken with many alumni who are in the path of Hurricane Irma, including Rev. Tom and Vangie Armiger. He stated:

Rev. Dr. Tom and Vangie Armiger
Rev. Dr. Tom and Vangie Armiger

“Rev. Tom and Vangie Armiger have relocated from their Fort Myer’s home to Kissimmee to be with their children. They are people of faith and want to be available to provide ministry after the hurricane has passed. One of the comments that Vangie communicated was a concern for friends and their possessions in the region. One of their parishioners has a student, Oscar, who is a sophomore at IWU and this has an impact on him as well.”

Janice Catrone, a Wesleyan missionary in Haiti, sent:

“Irma has hit, but it looks like we will be spared.  We have the outer bands with strong gusts of wind and heavy rain, then a let-up.  I believe it will continue like that through the night.  Our mission station in the north of the country may not fare as well, but we are praying.  Those missionaries are in the central part of Haiti now.  All of us are safe.  Keep praying.  Haiti can’t take much.  She still hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Matthew of last October.”
We encourage all alumni to provide resources, especially prayer, for all involved in this storm. Here is a link to donate to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.



Written by Emily Neideck, writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at

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