The devastation in Houston is hard to believe. Hurricane Harvey is now a tropical storm continues to drench south Texas with rainfall they don’t need. According to weather reports, the area could see as much as two more feet of rain on top of the 30 plus inches already fallen by the end of the week. It means this catastrophe could mark the worst flooding in US history. What can we do? How can we help as a church community? Who is already mobilized in the area?
Hurricane Harvey: Houston, We’re Praying for You!
“The storm is generating an amount of rain that would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years,” reported the AP, citing Edmond Russo, a deputy district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers. President Trump signed an emergency disaster declaration and is moving to secure funding as quickly as possible. All of the Texas National Guard is deployed to assist and the Red Cross is reporting that all 5,000 spaces in its refugee center built after Hurricane Katrina are claimed. There’s more. There are reports of alligators on the lose and an area-wide crisis in available drinking water and 300,000+ without power and growing concern about petrochemical pipelines rupturing.
Christian Organizations Poised to Help
The local first responders are working in the needed work of rescuing and bringing as much order as possible to the affected cities. But very soon, Houston and the surrounding areas will need Christians who care about their neighbors, both body and soul. Many churches and ministries are not hesitating or waiting. Instead, they are wading into the waters right now, poised for action, and they are inviting all of us, the global church, to participate. Samaritan’s Purse, for example, has already deployed relief units to the area. They will work help with immediate needs and eventually help homeowners once the floodwaters recede. If it’s like other disasters, Samaritan’s Purse will help organize around 5,000 volunteers and build assist 700 families. When that happens, the love of Jesus is shared and the kingdom of God expands.
Samaritan’s Purse is only one of many organizations. Here’s a list of several others:
- The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, separate from Samaritan’s Purse, has 250 chaplains ready to be used in the area.
- The Salvation Army is in these communities already. They are ready to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to survivors and relief workers.
- Houston Church Planting Network offers a growing list of relief plans from various local churches. Consider coming alongside these local congregations.
- MercyChef is raising funds and setting out to providing high-quality, professionally prepared meals to victims, first responders, and volunteers in the name of Jesus.
What we can do
First and foremost, let’s take the needs of Houston, and all of the Southern border of the Gulf, to the Lord. Let’s ask for his care for the disenfranchised, the broken, and the weary. Pray for the safety of the first responders. Pray for the witness of the Christians who part these communities. May he use these experiences in the lives of everyone involved to bring about redemption or strengthened faith.
- Travel to Texas
In an disaster, there is an inspiring number of people who take off work and travel to affected areas, applying their skills, brute strength, supplies and time for anyone they see in need. For many of us, this is not possible, but for those nearby and with means and/or contacts, this might really be a time of testing and testimony.
- Give to the work
Even though much of the work has yet to happen, organizations that are ready to help need to hear from us. It helps them plan for how they can best assist and the supplies they will purchase.
- Open your doors
If you are part of a church that is in north Texas or a neighboring state, consider reaching out to local Houston churches (maybe those in your denomination) and offer your church as a place of refuge.
Be Reminded of Spiritual Truths
- Don’t be afraid – “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalms 56:4).
- We don’t need to be anxious – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Count it all joy – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 2:2-4).
- We can find rest in Jesus – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
- The Lord is the shepherd, we won’t want for anything – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…” (Psalm 23:1-3).
God desires all people to be drawn to him. Though we don’t know the reasons for any disaster and we’re not in a place to judge God’s good purposes, we do know that he is working in our lives and in the lives of others to call out to us. We experience that int the joys of life, but as C.S. Lewis reminds us, “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” May we be awakened through this calamity in Texas, and may those directly involved, lift up their eyes to the hills and ask, “Where does our help come from?” and then respond afresh, “Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)