HOUSTON—On the future site of Bayou City Fellowship’s new sanctuary sits a metal building that has suddenly turned into a makeshift headquarters for disaster relief.
Cases of water, cleaning supplies and food sit stacked several feet high as volunteers scurry to organize donations that keep pouring in.
Across the room, church members work around the clock, dispatching demolition crews to homes throughout the city, where floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc.
“The great thing about Houston is Houston is a working people, and our church is a working church,” said Bayou City pastor Curtis Jones.
Even while the storm was dumping heavy rains on huge swaths of the city, Jones said his church rallied to meet needs. Men from the congregation went out in boats to rescue individuals and families who were trapped in their houses, and the church set up a disaster relief page on its website to start accepting donations and mobilizing volunteers.
“I think this moment is the point of all those sermons for all these years. When our neighbor needed us most, we showed up and turned up in Jesus’ name,” Jones said. “For me it’s been devastatingly beautiful to watch people’s lives be torn apart by this water but to see our church pitching in to rebuild.”
The response to the crisis has been widespread, with churches throughout the area offering their resources and time to anyone in need.
Like Bayou City, Champion Forest Baptist Church has utilized its facilities to collect supplies, and as of Sept. 2, the church had sent more than 1,000 volunteers out into the city for cleanup.
“This is an opportunity to be the gospel, to offer something with no expectation of anything in return, just truly giving and loving,” said Champion Forest mobilization pastor Jeff Skipper.
Outside of Houston, churches from throughout the state and nation have also extended a helping hand. Bayou City is currently preparing its facilities to house volunteer groups from out of town; and regardless of church size, Jones said there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to take part in relief efforts.
“Every church, no matter what the size has men and women who can do sheetrock and who can do plumbing, and we’re going to need all those things,” Jones said. “We’re going to need all those little churches who can send us teams of 10 and 20 people for the next six months, at least.”
Although the process of restoring the city is likely to take years, Jones is hopeful that it will lead to a transformed Houston, and most importantly, to transformed lives.
“Houston has been plunged beneath the waters, and I’m hoping that God will raise it up to newness of life. That’s only something he can do. We can rip out sheetrock, but only God can transform a life, and definitely only God can transform a city.”
Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at sbtexas.com/harvey.