Tribune-Courier General Manager
Mark Combs has always had a desire to be of service to his fellow man. As a former paramedic with the Marshall County Ambulance Service and a volunteer firefighter, he often found himself in situations to help people at vulnerable times in their lives.
But a life-changing decision the 41-year-old Combs made two years ago is proof-positive that his commitment to being a servant to those in need is not just a job, but a mission.
“I knew God was working in my life and that He had a huge journey in front of me. He just hadn’t put that vision in front of me of what it was going to be,” said Combs.
A mission trip to North Carolina eventually led him to learn about Resurrection Disaster Relief, a faith-based organization that helps people rebuild and repair their homes after a disaster.
Now Combs is extending his commitment to Resurrection Disaster Relief a step further by helping to organize a local chapter of the Virginia-based organization in Benton, through a multi-denominational effort.
In the spring of 2012, as he worked through details for a trip to Europe to do the pilgrimage on The Way of St. James, he originally planned to take a leave of absence from his employment.
“I was planning on taking three months out of my life and then coming back into the same path,” said Combs.
But God had other plans for him and a huge leap of faith led Combs to discover what was in store as His servant to mankind.
Instead of putting in for a leave of absence, he sold his Brewers home and resigned his job, ending a 15-year career as a paramedic.
Combs traveled to Europe as planned and as he trekked 560 miles across France and Spain to the burial spot of St. James he found the thing that had eluded him and had previously left him feeling “empty.”
“What I was able to get was a relationship knowing a God I never knew existed. That’s where I laid all my junk down,” he said.
Combs returned to the U.S. on Nov. 3, 2012, and the next day he found the plan he believes God had been preparing him for in Resurrection Disaster Relief.
The organization was looking for volunteers in an earthquake-torn area of Virginia where a 5.8 magnitude quake along a stretch of the Appalachian Mountains in 2011 had left hundreds of homes destroyed.
Combs traveled to Louisa, Va., and worked two months to repair homes damaged in the disaster.
“I told them I would see this event through, and as long as I had a place to stay and some food to eat, that I would be around to help. That was provided to me and I ended up staying,” said Combs. In fact, Combs stayed 10 months and followed up that volunteer stint with trips to other disaster sites in the U.S. and to Guatemala to rebuild a home destroyed in a landslide.
“For me it was completely jumping out in faith before I found out about Resurrection Disaster Relief,” he said. “I knew I was going to be a servant of God and He was going to take care of me. He pretty much brought Resurrection Disaster Relief to me, instead of me going to it.”
The organization stresses there is a job for any volunteer with a willing heart and that no construction skills are required. To learn more about the Benton chapter contact Combs at 270-493-6262.
You can learn more about the group’s mission by visiting www.ResurrectionDisasterRelief.org.