Harvey: Our prayers and our thoughts
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
On Monday, The Church Network sent an email to its members regarding Hurricane Harvey, expressing concern for all affected, especially our members and our members' churches. In the message we asked to hear stories of what our members' churches were doing and planning to do to assist those affected by this historic and devastating storm.
The message below came from TCN member Gary Stone, business administrator at First Baptist Church of Marble Falls, Texas. This is just one of many such stories. Gary, thanks for sharing your story with us.
Dear Fellow Administrators,
They say everything is bigger in Texas. Apparently that even applies to our natural disasters. Hurricane Harvey and now the sequel, Tropical Storm Harvey, is doing incredible damage to the Texas Gulf Coast. Pray for Texas as we continue rescue and rebuilding efforts. Pray also for our neighbor, Louisiana, as they now face the brunt of this monster storm.
Thankfully our city, Marble Falls, in the Texas Hill Country, was spared the wrath of the storm. We got a little wind and rain over the weekend. However, now we are getting a tsunami of evacuees from all over the Texas Coast looking for a safe place to stay for a while.
Yesterday, we learned that some local hotels have 10 or more people per room who evacuated the coast with little more than the clothes on their backs. Some have no money for food and are relying on the hotel breakfasts for their daily meal. Volunteers from our church immediately arranged to have sandwiches in quantity delivered to all the local hotels for the evacuees.
Thank you, Subway and Which Wich franchises, for stepping up with donated food. Thank you, HEB grocery stores (Christian owned), for feeding countless people, even opening up their stores in the worst-hit areas and giving away their inventories to those in immediate desperate need.
Tonight, our church hosted a simple meal for the evacuees who are staying in local hotels. We provided food, drink and a lot of prayer and friendship with a bounce house to entertain the kids. Children get bored even in a disaster.
Other local churches have followed our lead and are offering lunch or supper on other days. We may have to do this on a regular basis for the next few weeks until the humanitarian crisis is over.
The evacuees are coming from Corpus Christi, Rockport, Houston, Bay Town and many more places most of you have never heard of. Many have no home to return to. Others' homes are standing, but they were forced to leave because there is no electricity, sewer or water in their cities. It will be weeks before basic services can be restored.
Some are heartbroken. Some blame God for their misfortune, but most face the reality of their circumstances with humor, grace and resolve — thankful to God for sparing them, worried more for their neighbors than for themselves. Their courage is inspiring.
The flood waters will abate. Until then, our church is giving generously to the Texas Baptist Men because they field-trained early response teams for cleanup, water purification and laundry services. They can feed thousands with mobile kitchens and have Crisis Chaplains. They can do a world of good where it is needed most.
We are also forming alliances with churches in hard-hit areas to deliver gift cards from Walmart and HEB, because those stores are in every affected coastal community. A gift card can buy a pair of work gloves, groceries, drinking water, gasoline, clothing and basic hygiene items for living. It can also buy a toy for a child who may have lost his/her favorite in the storm.
Our church is blessed with a lot of newly retired people who are willing and able to help. When it is safe for us to enter affected cities we will send work crews to help clean up and repair. Again, we will depend on neighborhood churches of all denominations to direct us where we are needed most.
This is a time for God's people to unite under one banner. The world needs to see the Kingdom of God in action.
Pray for us. Pray for Texas.
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