On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the coast of Texas and caused $125 billion in damage, tying with Hurricane Katrina for the costliest storm on record. Almost every EFCA church in the Houston region (15 total) saw their communities flooded. One year later, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Last week, I took a group of 12 high school students and 2 other adult leaders to Houston, partnering with EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response. Crisis Response’s outreach goals are not only to rebuild homes, but also to rebuild lives and bring the hope of Christ to those in need.
We witnessed over and over that relationships are more important than projects.
While we worked long hours on two homes, we also spent a lot of time with people affected by the hurricane. One of our high school teams served by mudding and sanding drywall and spent their lunch breaks with an elderly neighbor down the street. Mr. Joshua, as we call him, is a seventy-six year old African-American man who has lived in the South his entire life.
When one of our students asked about what kind of changes he has seen throughout his life, he said with a big grin, “I never would have dreamed that in 2018 I’d be sitting in my house eating lunch with a bunch of white kids.”
He joyfully attributed that to God and to the movement of the community and the church after the hurricane to reach people who are in need both tangibly and spiritually.
In Houston, we found that those we went to serve helped us just as much as we helped them. Mr. Joshua (who called me last Saturday to make sure we all got home safe and sound) and others showed us a God who has been and will continue to be God throughout any flood or storm. Walking alongside people through any kind of crisis opens doors for God to build bridges and change lives.
Thousands of homes still remain vacant from the flood last August while other homes are being condemned and removed, but there is still hope. Organizations like EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response are partnering with local churches, moving into neighborhoods, and proclaiming the hope of Christ.
There is still a huge need, and they estimate another 5-10 years in this area to help people. We were blessed to serve alongside this organization in seeing their vision accomplished one day at a time.
You may not be able to get to Houston, but there’s an opportunity in our own district to serve a community similarly hit by flooding.
Join the ongoing efforts of Stillmeadow Community Church this Saturday, August 11th to serve the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of West Baltimore.