Last week, the city of Houston, and surrounding gulf coast area, was struck by a merciless, unstoppable thief: Hurricane Harvey. In the wake of the storm, torrential rains continued to pour into the Houston metro, causing widespread flooding which forced an estimated 30,000 people out of their homes. Many others were trapped inside their houses by rising flood waters, unable to drive on the roads that had become murky rivers overnight.
Amid the chaos of ongoing disaster, churches are responding to their community in crisis. Houston-area pastor Kevin Bowles says his congregation is in search-and-rescue mode.
“So much of the need is getting people out of houses where the creeks are still washing stuff away. We’ve got probably 12 to 15 guys from our church — just civilians out with their kayaks, with their small motor boats, finding boats from friends — out there in the water getting people from flooded houses.”
“My buddy, Jeff Medders is one of our pastors here at the church; his wife is actually from Louisiana. She’s been on the horn, dispatching different boats to get out there. I think one of the first guys Jeff got to yesterday was a paralyzed man who was with his wife. They were just at the house alone and had no way to get out. The volunteers got in and got him out. It’s just been story after story like that.”
The biggest immediate need is safe shelter for the thousands of Texans displaced by the disaster.
“Yesterday, we’d hear that a new shelter house is open; it’s got room for 300 people.’ Then 30 minutes later, it was full. The need for shelter is pretty amazing, to think of that many people displaced.’
After the storm passes, Kevin knows the depth of devastation will continue for quite some time. His congregation is one of many in Houston and across the state, preparing for the very long road ahead.
“Obviously, we need prayer for those who are helping and for those who have been affected. The need for funds is also going to be there over the next several months.”
“In the next few days, we’re turning our building into a donation center, a command center where we’re going to be sending people into houses as the waters recede, so that we can get in and start helping people tear out wet sheet rock and wet flooring out of the house, to prevent mold and those sorts of things.”
“The recovery is going to take a long time: entire neighborhoods and entire areas of Houston the contents of every house will be out waiting to be picked up as trash. A lot of stuff is going to have to be done to get people back in there.”
While many of us feel unable to offer assistance, Pastor Kevin says that everyone can be an immediate help by interceding for Houston in prayer. He shares a prayer for his community.
“Father, would you be with our city, and be with those who’ve been affected here in the Houston area. God, help us that we might care for our neighbors. Remove from our hearts any sense of disinterest or apathy. Help us to see those around us as our neighbors who are in need of our help. Father, thank you for those many who are interested in and want to help, trying to figure out how to send people. Please provide those avenues for people, for resources.”
“God, may you be glorified as the churches serve those around them, in ways that are astounding to our neighbors; in ways that reveal and show how you have so greatly served us through your Son. Would you save many people today: save their lives. Shine your glory forward in this city into those who need to know you through this. We pray all this in Christ’s amazing name.”
Kevin Bowles is the Executive Pastor & Worship Leader of Redeemer Church in Tomball, TX (Greater Houston area).A Pastor's Prayer for Houston, with Kevin Bowles