An Outpouring of Relief Following Harvey

Harvey was an unwelcomed visitor who took lives and ruined property all along the Texas coast. For those who lost loved ones, there will be no recovery. For some it will take years to rebuild their lives. I traveled from Corpus Christi to Port O’Conner along the coast. My trips to Houston and Southeast Texas broke my heart as I saw the suffering. Theological facts are not enough to comfort the hurting. Faith in action is necessary.

God used the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention family to respond immediately. SBTC Disaster Relief was on the ground cooking food, clearing debris, cleaning houses and washing laundry. Your staff at the SBTC offices in Grapevine attempted to contact every single one of the 764 impacted churches within days of the storm’s landfall in order to pray with them and see how we could assist them. 

The greater Southern Baptist family also rallied to Texas. Many state conventions sent their disaster relief teams. The North American Mission Board with the new SEND RELIEF effort came alongside the SBTC. Churches by the hundreds in Texas and beyond came on their own. I heard over and over about being the “hands and feet” of Jesus. First responders, government agencies and the National Guard were used of the Lord as well. I am grateful for everyone who helped.

Generous giving toward Harvey victims has been amazing. Truckloads of supplies have poured into the affected areas. Clean-up materials collected by churches through the SBTC “Buckets for Harvey” have blessed thousands. People from across the United States have given online at SBTC churches and individuals sent checks. Several state conventions provided funds. Alabama Baptists under the leadership of Executive Director Rick Lance sent over $100,000. Every penny designated for Harvey will be invested in the lives of those impacted. Not one cent will be used for administrative costs.

The financial impact of this disaster on our churches and convention will be significant. Six of the top 10 Cooperative Program (CP) giving churches (in dollars) are in Houston. If their facilities were not damaged, they had members who lost their homes or jobs. Those churches may experience some financial difficulties. It is crucial that other SBTC churches continue with regular Cooperative Program giving. For those who are not participating in CP giving, now this is a good time to start. The infrastructure of Disaster Relief is dependent on CP. Having personnel in the field touching lives is possible because of the Cooperative Program. Because of CP, church planters in the storm area will not miss a support check and pastors who were in Harvey’s path will get help. We are in kingdom work together.

Just days after Harvey, SBTC President Nathan Lino tweeted a profound statement. He said in essence, “Houston’s greatest need after Harvey is the same as it was before, lostness.” I wholehearted concur. We came together to alleviate suffering because of a storm. Let’s continue together to reach Texas with the gospel. 

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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