Hurricane Harvey - One Year Later
“The People of God Stepped Up”
This week, on the anniversary of the week Hurricane Harvey made landfall in 2017, we are praising God for way he has blessed all of those involved in the recovery efforts. As the news reports a lack of full recovery from the past and warns of future disasters, at ARDF, we are excited to share stories of lives transformed. One year on, these continue to bear fruit.
Last year, ARDF partnered with the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Diocese supported churches, organizations, and individuals with funds from ARDF donors. A discernment team regularly met to assess the needs and approve the dispersal of donations. It was not until earlier this summer, when the diocese distributed the last of the funds.
“Our prayerful meetings were usually a combination of thanksgiving for the donations and intercession on behalf of the flood victims and the team was blessed to be God’s hands and feet in this time of great need.” - Tommy Lamb, a Dean in the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast who was tasked with coordinating the relief efforts last year.
The church saw these efforts as more than an opportunity to help Hurricane Harvey flood victims. They were building God’s kingdom, as they connected with individuals, organizations and churches, to not only help rebuild physical structures but also to help victims rebuild mentally and spiritually!
In the days following Hurricane Harvey, Father Mark Ball and a team from Missio Dei Anglican Church, (Houston), walked door to door in Houston’s devastated neighborhoods, identifying families needing help demolishing, cleaning and rebuilding their flooded homes.
Father Mark discovered some families had been suffering since the last flood with black mold in walls, furniture and bedding. Naming the relief initiative “Resurrect Houston,” Missio Dei hosted fifteen churches and organizations and coordinated work at more than thirty homes. Into the summer of 2018, they welcomed teams of volunteers from across the country who came to help the rebuilding efforts.
Daughters of the Holy Cross connected with three single moms and their children. Even now, they continue to minister to them in various ways. For these volunteers, they feel blessed to have gotten to know these single moms. Because of the large losses, the financial impact will be ongoing. But relationships that might never have formed have been built and solidified over the past year.
Rev. David Cumbie, of Apostles Church Houston, reports that it is the secondary and tertiary effects that have had the most lasting impact on people – both within and outside of – his church.
For years, Apostles Houston had been trying to serve the population of an underserved local elementary school (94% are on free or reduced lunch), located just blocks from the church. “We reached out but the school wasn't interested.”
But after a backpack drive for hurricane victims entering the school in 2017, the relationship has changed to one of trust. Last spring, Apostles Houston facilitated a joint service project with the school. Following a tour by the principal, volunteers from the church were able to lay hands and pray over the principal and for the school. It’s just one picture of how God works even through tragedy and crisis to open doors for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and transform lives.
Cumbie shares another story: George and Selena (names changed to protect their privacy) were one of the families whose home was completely flooded. They came to the shelter at Apostles Church Houston and met an Apostles family. This family opened their home to the couple and helped them with repairs to their flooded vehicle.
Amazingly, the Spanish-only speaking couple now faithfully attends worship each week and has become a part of the Apostles family. During this time, it was discovered that the couple has a teenage daughter living in Mexico who has a degenerative bone disease. George and Selena work in the US and send money back for her care, but they had given up hope that their daughter would ever be able to receive the hip-replacement she desperately needed.
Several Apostles members, including an orthopedic surgeon, have been working with a local Houston hospital to arrange for a medical visa and free surgery for their daughter. The church is assisting with finances and housing for the daughter. David continues, “George and Selena say it is a miracle that God used Harvey to connect them with Apostles Church. A miracle that has given their daughter a real chance and a more normal life. It’s a beautiful picture of what God can do when a community is willing to walk alongside a family beyond the immediate crisis”
Meanwhile, Dean Tommy Lamb concludes,
“One of the big takeaways for me in this process has been how the people of God stepped up and became the hands and feet of Christ. It was the church that helped in the beginning and continues to help by serving in various ministries and I know that people experienced Jesus in the flesh through His followers.”
We pray that the 2018 Hurricane season will not bring any large scale disasters to our shores like last year. However, we are seeing that God is using the relationships formed out of the 2017 disasters to build his Kingdom.