During disasters such as hurricanes, tornado or other natural disaster, trees need to be cut and cleared to facilitate recovery of the communities. Chainsaw crews, whether volunteer or paid operators, are in desperate need of having their saws sharpened so that they can work safely and efficiently. That’s where PALS (Partner and Leader Servant) Tom Stanton comes in.
The purpose and goal of his ministry is to go to wind and/or fire disasters to sharpen chainsaws and give aid to the victims of the disasters. This includes extending comfort, emotional counsel and spiritual aid to the victims and often to other relief workers, including sharing the Gospel through the Word of God. The need for sharpeners is extreme! Tom tells of going to the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. After driving straight through from Northern Minnesota to Atmore Alabama, where he set up to sharpen at the First Baptist Church, he went to seven different communities to scout the needs. Every single community literally begged Tom to stay in their community. This is where the deep need for this ministry was placed on Tom’s heart. There are many stories of people professing faith in Christ through Expressions of Hope Ministries. Only in eternity will we know, for sure, of the impact of this unique ministry. The fact is, the need is great for this type of ministry and it is so easy to get into. Tom has gone to many disasters using a minivan as a base of operations. The system of sharpening chainsaws developed by Tom allows a person to sharpen between thirty and fifty saws an hour. The average sharpener can only sharpen a maximum of six saws per hour. When chainsaw operators stop cutting to sharpen his or her saw, the whole clean-up process is impeded. Not to mention, dull saws are very dangerous. Quickly sharpening a dull saw increases the productivity of the very limited human resources. Tom says that he would be willing to do training classes to teach teams and small groups to do this Ministry. Sadly, Tom’s health is beginning to fail and he has missed out going to several disasters because of his body wearing out. There is a sense of urgency to put together several trained teams that have a burden for this work.
Expanding the opportunity for others to join the ministry is a big desire of Tom’s. Participants in this ministry can be anyone with a heart to help others affected by disasters. Many retired men and women are familiar with disaster operations but can no longer safely operate chainsaws or pull brush. Still, they desire to be involved in serving those affected by a storm. This is an ideal ministry for them. Tom claims two life verses. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Tom was given this verse shortly after he came to know Christ in October 1971. The second verse jumped from the pages of his Bible during the summer of 2019. Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”