On Monday Morning August 29th 2005 Hurricane Katrina made its second landfall in Bay St. Louis Mississippi, a date and event that is etched in my memory, in part because a few hours later I would look at my email inbox and see a letter from a pastor in Lafayette La. asking for assistance with the forty thousand refugees that had fled the city of New Orleans. No government or non-governmental agencies were showing up there. Our congregation responded by sending relief and a ministry called Compassion New England was born at Bethany Community Church. CNE and “The Blessing Barn(s)” has become a symbol of partnership between a caring church and a caring community.. So all day, yesterday, I was prayerfully pondering what our response should be to Hurricane Harvey, which appears to be more devastating than Katrina.
So far no hands on opportunity for compassion has emerged in the Galveston/Houston area. We are being told, not to send supplies and teams of volunteers at this point. This is actually good news because it signals that the Federal Government has moved much quicker and disaster relief organizations like Convoy of Hope & Samaritan’s Purse have become much more efficient at getting to the crisis than in those days.
Because the people in the Mendon’s and the greater Milford are rock stars of compassion, you’re asking me, “what can we do?” During the early days of Katrina I would have said, “find me a tractor trailer,” or “bring food and supplies to 15 Cape Road.” At least at this point we are hearing, “don’t come,” and “don’t send supplies.” But don’t think for a minute this doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. There’s a lot we can do.
- Communicate nothing but love and encouragement.
This is not the time to post garbage on line about this being judgment on a “Red State.” By the way, Harris County went Democratic in last presidential election, but the devastation of Harvey is not the judgment of God for that either. The flooding in Harris County is because a major metropolis and economic center was built on a floodplain, so can the hate speech and love, love, love.
Also leave Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church alone. You and I don’t have the facts and even if they weren’t justified in not turning their facilities into a refugee center there’s NOTHING REDEMPTIVE in talking about it. You’re not helping anybody when you take shots at churches and politicians during a crisis. There will be a time for analysis and constructive criticism but this isn’t it.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I almost didn’t type that word because you so expect me to say that. The phrase,”our thoughts and prayer are with…” is sometimes what we say, when we don’t know what to day. But prayer is still powerful in so many ways. But this time, pray, really pray. Have a lengthy conversation with God asking for wisdom, provision and mercy for our fellow Americans on the Texas Gulf Coast.
- Inventory your non-monetary connections and resources.
What I mean by that is to list the resources that you might have access too if they were needed. Could you make time in your schedule to go and help with cleanup in rebuilding in the near future? Do you have specialized equipment and skills for cleanup and construction? Do you have access to trucks for transporting supplies? Do you have goods that you could send? Don’t wait till the call goes out, be ready.
We needed electricians, truck drivers, carpenters, painters, laborers and cooks in 2005 and there’s a good chance, we’ll have those opportunities again. The rebuilding of the Texas coast is going to take years not months, so think about what you could offer if needed.
- Give money now.
Money is the greatest need for those excellent organizations that are in place and ready to serve. Bethany Community Church and Compassion New England are collecting funds now to support Convoy of Hope. https://www.convoyofhope.org. This amazing organization is already there giving food and helping shelter the victims of this disaster. Convoy of Hope is an extremely reputable organization which is illustrated, by the fact that they are partners with Home Depot, Toms, Hormel Foods, Plum Organics and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
We will thoroughly vet where we send your “Houston Relief” dollars and not a cent will stay at Compassion New England or Bethany Community Church. You are of course welcomed to send your money directly to the Red Cross, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing, Samaritan’s purse and others, if we will send out funds together however we can better measure our community contribution. I just want the world to know that the most compassionate people on planet earth live in Mendon’s and the Greater Milford Area. We are part of a great movement to express the fact that the Kingdom of God has come to earth.
Matthew 6:10-11 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
To make a donation to the Houston Relief Fund go to the Compassion New England Website, go to “give” and designate your gift. http://www.compassionne.com. You may also go by the BLessing Barn at 5 Hasting Street in Mendon’s, or 146 S. Main Street in Milford to make your donation in person.