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Sitting with Dan, hearing Sherry’s trauma, the hope Louise held onto, and witnessing the spirit of giving that Alief Baptist Church demonstrated had ministered to our TDC team. Though we went to serve, many in our group left with a greater appreciation for what we have been blessed with and the hope Christ provides.
Last month, The District Church sent a fifteen-person team to Houston. During the five days in Houston, we partnered with Bayou City Fellowship and the North American Mission Board.We were able to gut-out three homes, and rip out an entire gymnasium floor, saving a local church $30,000.
Our team went ready to work, but nothing could prepare one to see the level of devastation caused in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Entire streets of homes uninhabitable, after a dam was opened and flooded entire neighborhoods in the middle of the night. A lifetime of possessions piled in the front of houses in ten-foot soggy heaps. Signs reading, “You loot, we shoot,” “We have already lost everything, don’t steal from us.” Given the magnitude of loss it would be understandable to lose all sense of hope.
However, a profound resilience and faith in a better future was palpable which everyone on our team encountered. Sharing breakfast with Dan, a man who had his leg amputated several weeks before Harvey, and was not yet fitted for a prosthetic when the floodwaters came, recounted the terror he experienced as he was told by police that night rescues were not possible. As the water rose six inches each hour, he pulled himself up onto his bed and waited to drown in his dark one-story house.
Six hours later, when the water had reached over three feet, three strangers in a canoe showed up to his house. They loaded him, his wife, dog, and wheelchair in their canoe and ferried Dan’s family to safety. He had never seen those three men before, never got their names, and never saw them again. Though Dan could not return to the house our team gutted, he was so grateful and hopeful for what his future held.
Though he lost everything, he told us he was alive, believed that God had a plan for him, and was going to push forward. When asked how we could pray for him, rather than asking for prayer for his situation, he thought of others. Dan asked for prayer for his son suffering with an addiction, and his daughter in-law who was undergoing treatment for late stage cancer. Though we went to serve, our team was ministered to by the community of Houston and many of us left with a greater sense of who God is.
Through the relationships we built, and the work we did we left knowing that there is hope in the storm. Houston has a long road ahead of it. The workers will need to continue to go, supplies and funds will need to keep being sent. However, there is hope, and Harvey has provided our body with the opportunity to serve the world Jesus calls us to love.