Amid crisis and political feuds, hope abounds in East Palestine

by | Mar 24, 2023 | Religion

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (RNS) — About a mile west from where a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, a man in a white cowboy hat was greeted by smiles, car horns and waves as he handed out cases of water in a lot beside the railroad tracks on Tuesday (March 21).One person brought him a buffalo chicken wrap for lunch. Two men in a pickup truck stopped by for water and asked if he’d be around later that night.
“You’re loved from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, you know that, right?” He called out to the men in the truck.
Known by the nickname “Cowboy,” David Graham is a veteran from Fredericktown, Ohio, who has been distributing donated water and other goods in East Palestine since the second week of February.
“What brought me here was the thought that there would be people here that will need to talk,” he told Religion News Service. “This was one of those where God said, ‘Go.’”
David Graham poses with a Cowboy Cares sign in front of water to be distributed in East Palestine, Ohio, on March 21, 2023. RNS photo by Kathryn Post
Graham grew up as an atheist, but after a conversion experience over two decades ago he now considers himself a “bapticostal” — a mashup of Baptist and Pentecostal. For 25 years he’s traveled to disaster zones to offer help and hope — most recently, he was in Fort Myers, Florida, to assist with hurricane rec …

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