Whenever I see the catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey, I’m immediately filled with emotion. It reminds me of coming home from the battlefield of Iraq and immediately being greeted by Hurricane Katrina. I went to a young adult beach retreat in Destin, Florida while watching the horror unfold in Louisiana. Catastrophe happens here. And even though we have a stronger ability to recover it doesn’t change the fact that people are going through severe life change overnight. Here are a couple of emotions I have been wrestling with.

Sorrow

Hearing of children drowning waiting to be rescued is hard. Seeing pictures of families who were once in homes preparing for the school year and their biggest worry was which lunch period they got is heartbreaking. Looking at people who live three hours away living strangely different lives from what they lived a week ago with only a day’s warning is hard to even comprehend.

Guilt

I’m not really doing anything. A couple friends of mine are heading to Houston to help. My life has not been inconvenienced at all. I just tucked my children into bed, prayed with them, kissed them, and now I’m writing a post on my iPhone. Not exactly hard living. Not fair to those hurricane victims. I’m no better than them. My life not holier than theirs and theirs no worse than mine. Yet here I am. Dry. On a couch. Food in the fridge. Hot water available. Clean clothes. A trampoline in the backyard when I’m tired of playing hide and seek with boys.

Hopeless

There is fear. There is disease starting to pass through flood waters. People are sleeping on kitchen countertops unable to leave their homes. Life has been paused from trying to thrive in a first world city, to being reduced to third world conditions and here I am unable to do anything than just watch through social media the plight of those who lost it all. And what can I do?

Is there any Good News?

God’s Word informs my heart so that I don’t have to be a victim of my feelings.

  1. Rejoice always. (Philippians 4) Turns out that catastrophic hurricanes qualify for the always category.
  2. Consider it joy (James 1) looks like the early Christians not only had to endure natural need in famine (Acts 11, 20) but the physical persecution to the death by those opposed to Christianity (Acts 8).
  3. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8) I don’t ever have to feel guilt or shame, because Jesus died for my sins, past, present and future.
  4. God convicts me (John 16) of sin and concerning righteousness and judgment. Therefore I’m not condemned, but convicted by God to act on his behalf.
  5. This will turn out ultimately for the good of God’s people (Romans 8) as the church serving Houston is clearly seen and I can be a part of that. But the question, that we really drive at…is how?

Here is what we can do:

PRAY

The Lord hears the prayers of his people, and he responds in power and grace. Please pray for those affected by this devastating storm. Pray individually, pray with your Community Group, and pray with friends.

  • Pray for God to protect and save lives and deliver those in need
  • Pray for first-responders and other rescue teams to effectively find and save those who are trapped or stranded due to flooding
  • Pray for local churches to have wisdom and courage in loving and serving their neighbors physically, spiritually, and emotionally

Here are some links and opportunities to help serve or donate money and goods around the Austin and Houston areas. If you have other helpful information, please let us know and we will update this page. Keep praying, and serve or give however you are able!

SIGN UP TO HOST EVACUEES

If you are willing to host refugees, send an email to info@wellsbranchchurch.com with the subject line “Host Refugees” and include how many people you can host and for how long. If we encounter those in need, we will contact you about it. We have already received a couple emails seeking help. We have received at least one request for help so far.

Sign up to offer your home for free with AirBnB through a special program they have setup to help evacuees that are in need.

GO TO HOUSTON TO SERVE

Our grandmother church Hill Country Bible Church is heading up efforts to get to Houston. Since Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city, there are literally 100’s of thousands of homes that are destroyed and need help in cleaning up. If you would like to volunteer and go, then register here.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE OR VOLUNTEER IN AUSTIN/HOUSTON

“TEXT-TO-GIVE” NUMBERS

  • Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross
  • Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to United Way Flood Relief

ONLINE GIVING LINKS

DONATE GOODS

Going this Weekend: You can also bring items by our offices at the Live For More Center (14735 Bratton Lane Suite 120, ATX) by this Friday at 5pm and we are having a member of our church drive them directly to Houston to people in need. For this trip, we are only taking:

-Toys and books for children

-Diapers and wipes

-Toiletries

 

You can also bring goods until the need for relief is over to the Live For More Center (14735 Bratton Lane Suite 120, ATX):

Personal Items: 

Toiletries, new pillows and blankets, inflatable mattresses, hand sanitizer, first-aid kits, new undergarments (all sizes),  new socks (all sizes)

Tools: Utility knives. leather work gloves, pop-up canopies, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, hammers, utility knives, work gloves, chainsaws, rope, safety glasses, 5-gallon buckets, extension cords

Supplies: 

Cleaning supplies, de-humidifiers, air circulators, box fans, liquid laundry detergent, dish soap, black trash bags, mop and bucket

Food: Canned meats, vegetables and fruits, corn bread mix, juices, hamburger, chicken and tuna helper, assorted crackers, rice, peanut butter and jelly, dry beans, sugar, cereal (hot and cold), instant potatoes, flour, pasta and tomato sauces, canned beans, soups, cooking oil, shelf-stable milk, bottled water

 

Grateful for the response so far. God bless you as you love those in need!

Author Chris Plekenpol

Lead Pastor of Wells Branch Community Church. I love watching sports, especially Army Football, dancing with Adrienne, and thinking of creative and innovative ways to communicate the love of God.

More posts by Chris Plekenpol

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