Hurricane Harvey has hit Texas and is looking to become the costliest natural disaster in United States history. The EFCA has sprung into action in trying to help out, and amidst that 15 EFCA churches were affected by Harvey. This is an overview of how those 15 churches are reacting to the situation. Plus while I encourage people to give I am also asking for the money to be handled transparently, especially in the wake of other evangelical situations in recent history. But the EFCA will help Houston rise up and is honoring the Lord as they help out the “least of these.”
“We are at the end of the road. The next closest EFC is more than 150 miles away. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re down here all by yourself. But in times like this, feeling brotherhood of being a part of a larger, District and nationwide community is SO encouraging. We’re not alone even though were at end road.”
David Lewis the Senior Pastor of Bayshore Bible
Based on Crisis Response’s experience with such a major event, ministry outreach opportunities for churches in the Houston area will last for years. We are asking individuals and EFCA churches from across the country to consider coming alongside churches in the affected region and the district for the long term.
EFCA ReachGlobal Response Team
Psalm 91:1-2 NIV
Today’s post is a response to Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas. Its my effort to document and report on how 15 EFCA churches have been affected by this disaster. This is a fast changing story and the news is shifting by the day. The latest toll is 37 deaths and that is expected to rise with time. There will also be the risk of unhealthy water which will become a public health threat. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is involved in managing the disaster. At least 9,000 people are taking shelter in George R. Brown convention center which has a capacity for 5,000. There is talk that there will be 30,000 refugees but I expect that number to climb. People are being rescued and evacuated and there is spike in prices for food and water. and here in Washington, D.C. President Trump and the Congress are working on a federal disaster recovery package. Having done a brief summary let’s look at how the EFCA is reacting to this situation.
Which EFCA Churches in Texas are Most Affected by Hurricane Harvey?
In doing some research these are the Evangelical Free churches in Texas The Wondering Eagle believes are most likely affected by Harvey.
- Bayshore Bible in Corpus Christi as led by Dr. David Lewis
- Galveston Bible Church in Galveston as led by Jason Dohring
- Redemption Church in Houston as led by Zack McCoy, Todd Parish, and Mike Haskew
- Harvest Point Fellowship in Pearland as led by Lawrence Scott
- Oak Creek Bible Church in League City as led by Mike Bauer
- Trinity Fellowship in Friendship as led by Bob DeGray
- Hope Fellowship in Lake Jackson as led by Mark Swirsky
- Shine Bible Fellowship in Cypress as led by Jaron Jones
- Cornerstone Community Church in Rosenberg as led by Brent Burckart
- The Bridge Montrose in Houston as led by Heath Haynes
- Grace Bible Evangelical Free in Houston as led by West Brazelton
- Zion Church of Kurten in Bryan as led by Aubrey Rodgers
- Hope Evangelical Free in College Station as led by JG Wood
- Christ Community Church in Beaumont as led by Jeff Payne
- Brenham Bible Church in Brenham as led by Jon Davies
How are the EFCA Churches in the Affected Area of Texas Reacting to the Situation
First of all let me caveat this by saying this post was composed by studying and analyzing social media. In that sense I am referring to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. In some cases I noticed how members, pastors or attenders of EFCA churches are reacting to the situation. The Wondering Eagle supports the EFCA during this time and the hope is that this post can help clear up some information and let those in the community as well as those outside understand what is transpiring in Texas. So let’s look at what is known about each EFCA church in the area that is affected.
Bayshore Bible Church
According to the EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response David Lewis and Bayshore Bible worked in a frenzied pitch to get ready for Harvey. In the 36 hours prior to the storm members helped each other and the church was focusing on helping others after the storm. You can read more about Bayshore in this article here. On August 25 it was reported that most of the church was without power and winds were at 75 m.p.h. While Houston is closed and flooded its my understanding that there is assistance on the ground helping out in Corpus Christi. If I am wrong then please correct me below.
Galveston Bible Church
I have written about the situation at Galveston Bible Church which is led by Jason Dohring. To read more you can do so in “Galveston Bible Church is Requesting Help as they Respond to Hurricane Harvey in Texas.”
Harvest Point Fellowship
Harvest Point Fellowship canceled their 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 services for Sunday August 27. You can see the Tweet below:
Harvest Point got up the following webpage in which people could state they need help or allow people to donate necessary and needed items for those impacted by Harvey. They are also having a prayer time for the community it appears and each other on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Redemption Houston also canceled their Sunday morning service as a result of Harvey. You can read their announcement below.
On August 27 as Zack McCoy’s neighborhood flooded he watched one of his neighbors be evacuated from their home by air through the US Coast Guard. Redemption Church has been active in helping out in the community. Zack’s home as I learned was flooded three times in the past three years. His neighbors were flooded and their home has to be redone, new drywall, new appliances and more. Zack is asking for people to give and he is requesting that people pray for the massive needs in Houston. You can hear Zack’s request in the video above which comes from Redemption Church’s Facebook page.
On August 30 Zack McCoy posted the following on the church Facebook page.
Harvey isn’t done yet, but he’s already caused significant damage among us. We have several families at Redemption who have experienced flooding of their homes and several more who are under forced evacuation who may flood in the near future from rising rivers.
Remember a few weeks ago when we walked through 2 Corinthians 1 and learned that God comforts us in all our affliction in order that we might be able to turn around and comfort the afflicted around us with the same comfort we’ve received directly from God? Well, now we get to live that out. That might be difficult–it is affliction after all–but it means we get to directly experience God’s comfort, and it means that we have real comfort to provide others around us, even in the midst of this chaos.
With all that in mind, here are three things I need you to do right now:
1. Reach out. Reach out to God on behalf of others. And then reach out to them on behalf of God. Let’s find comfort. Let’s be the comfort.
2. Tell us if you or someone close to you (a hub group member, a family member, a neighbor, etc.) needs help. Whatever that help is, please let us know. http://redemptionhou.com/flood
3. Sign up to help. We’re going to send out as many crews as we can over the next few days (once it’s safe to drive) to begin the cleanup process. We’re going to be the comfort our neighbors need, even if we can’t fix absolutely everything for them. http://redemptionhou.com/flood
I’ll keep you posted on our efforts. I’m praying for you all, for all of my neighbors, and for our great city.
Longing for grace to restore nature,
Pastor, Redemption Church
Finally Redemption set up a webpage page where people can request help, or people can join them and help others. You can read that webpage here.
OakCreek Bible Church
OakCreek Bible also canceled their worship services as well. As Harvey came through this Evangelical Free used Facebook as a means of connecting with members and attenders in the League City area of Texas. These are some of the screenshots from their Facebook page.
It would appear to me in researching and writing this post that OakCreek Bible utilized Facebook in the most efficient manner of the EFCA Churches in the Houston area. They also had people check in by Facebook. In a crisis such as what is occurring in Houston Facebook reveals how crucial it can be in connecting people, all one has to do is look at OakCreek Bible Church to illustrate that fact.
On the church website Bob DeGray first started to write about the threat Harvey posed on August 25. You can read that post right here and the second post here. Bob wrote a number of posts and updates as Harvey drew near to Texas. You can read his write up in post three, four, five, six and nine. (Please don’t ask me what happened to seven and eight as I do not know.) On post ten Bob DeGray reports on the status of individual members as news was coming back as to who was flooded and what their status is. In post eleven Bob starts to mention recovery and thinking towards the future, you can read that post here. Trinity Fellowship also started to fundraise for Harvey relief, which you can read about here. Trinity Fellowship also offered to help people with re-building and in their immediate needs, you can read about that in this blog post by Bob DeGray. In addition Bob DeGray got up a post asking for those who could help out as people began their recovery. The most current posts as of this writing can be found here and here.
On August 27 Senior Pastor Bob DeGray on Facebook shared that he was seeing Blackhawk helicopters overhead. Apparently half the families of Trinity Fellowship we’re stuck with water in their home. Others were either stuck or seeking rescue. Much of this was shared on the national EFCA Facebook page. Again on Facebook Bob DeGray posted the following prayer on August 28.
All through the night I’ve been seeing the same refrain on our Facebook feeds: “It’s still raining.” Lots of weariness, cumulative stress and frayed faith bound up in those words. My 4;00 a.m. prayer (Psalm 130): “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! 2O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! 3If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. 5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. 7O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. 8And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
As the situation deteriorated in Houston Bob DeGray described the situation which was shared on the EFCA Facebook page.
“Right at the moment the key thing we’re doing for each other is ‘refugee housing.’ We did have a local grocery store reopen for a while today, but it is nearly isolated by flooding. If the grocery stores can’t keep up, we’ll quickly be in an ‘Ike-like’ search for food, supplies.”
“The thing we’ll need, soon and for the long term is gutting and rebuilding. One of our families is already gutting their house, but for most of us it is not clear that the event is over.”
Hope Fellowship Church
Hope Fellowship Church actually bucked the trend and was going to cancel church but a number of people showed up for church, and they held it. This is how it was written about on Facebook on August 25.
Pastor Mark and Walt Crews spoke about our weather situation and decided that we would cancel services Sunday morning, but….
If Sunday morning comes and there are clear roads and people that want to worship, we’ll have an informal worship service. No Sunday school for adults or children will be provided, and the nursery will be open for parents, but will not be staffed. We can have a great time together, though, so if things are clear enough, come join us. We will start at 10:30 if the weather permits it. God Bless and stay safe!!
And this is what happened on August 27.
Many people have arrived at the church this morning! If you would like to join us this morning please be safe and make sure the roads are clear before you come.
As Harvey unfolded Hope Fellowship Church used Facebook as a means to report what is happening and with some people checking in. They reported that Iglesia Evangelica Cristiana Church in Freeport was on fire and that first responders were dealing with the situation. Here is how it was discussed on their Facebook page.
At the Clute Intermediate School Shelter Hope Fellowship also helped with feeding people in need.
Hope Fellowship will be providing a hotdog meal to the people at the Clute Intermediate School Shelter on this Saturday. Currently 30-40 people are at the shelter but the numbers could climb to up to 200 by Saturday. We will order the hotdogs, buns, chips, and condiments through Michelle’s food delivery guy. What we need people to volunteer for is to bake cookies; pick up hot dogs from the church, cook them on Saturday and bring them to the church by 4:15 PM; serve food at the shelter (meal served at 5 PM); and some donations to pay for the food.
Call the church office at 979-297-8356 Monday through Thursday to volunteer.
And the church requested that people contact them if they need anything with people being free to call Mark Swirsky. While I am placing the message below to document it, I am removing the pastor’s home phone number.
Hey Hope! If anyone needs help during this time, contact the church office (979) 297-8356 during the day Monday through Thursday or Pastor Mark’s home phone (979) xxx-xxxx at night.
How’s everyone doing? Keep us updated!
This Evangelical Free also canceled their Sunday services.
In its place Jaron Jones gave a talk from his kitchen that was based on Psalm 91 on the Lord being a shelter in life. The message couldn’t have been more appropriate given what Houston was experiencing.
Jaron also posted the following Tweets on Twitter.
On Facebook Shine Bible Fellowship also started to engage its community and like some of the other Evangelical Free, started to work the issues and challenges that existed in Houston. This is the page they launched to start to raise donations. This is how it was pushed on Facebook.
Thanks to everyone around the country that has reached out to our church, has been praying for our city, seeking ways to help and to donate money. Shine is/will be in the trenches in our local community helping those impacted. You can give here, 100% of donations will go directly to those in our local community in need of assistance.https://app.mogiv.com/shinebible/harveyrelief
Cornerstone Community Church
This 9 Marks church canceled their 9 and 10:30 services as Harvey was taking aim at Texas. Here is how the church announced it on Facebook on August 25.
Due to the impending hurricane and strong possibility of power outages and flooding in our area, we have decided to cancel all weekend events for the church. This includes the Saturday Obadiah Project, the Saturday Sugar Land Town Square concert, as well as all Sunday worship services and meetings. Home Team Leadership Training will be rescheduled to next Sunday, September 3.
Please be safe and use caution as you move around Houston this weekend!
The next post on Facebook on August 27 stated the following:
Dear Cornerstone Family,
It’s been heartbreaking to see the devastation that Harvey is causing throughout the Houston area. As the storms continue to pour in and the floodwaters continue to rise, it will be easy to allow our hearts to give way to fear and anxiety. But let me remind you of the truth contained in Psalm 46:
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… 10 Be still, and know that I am God…11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
God is always good, He is always in control, and He can always be trusted, especially in the storms! So let this be a time when we as God’s people:
1. Exercise wisdom
Panic drives us to do foolish things, so stay calm and use discernment. Keep an eye on the weather, listen to the advice of the local authorities, and exercise caution. Don’t venture out unless you absolutely have to.
The prayer contained in Psalm 69:15-17 seems like a timely one for us:
Psalm 69:15 May the flood of water not overflow me, nor the deep swallow me up, nor the pit shut its mouth on me. 16 Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, 17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly.
3. Stay in touch.
As this storm progresses, please stay in touch with your Home Team leader and/or designated elder to let them know how you’re faring. The church is a family, and we want to be available to help as needed when the time is right.
4. Reach out to others.
It is in the darkness of the storm that the love of Christ often shines brightest. Make sure your family is properly protected and cared for first, but be sure also to look for opportunities to help a neighbor or a friend in need. And as a church body, let’s be ready to respond to the needs in our community in the aftermath of this storm.
Praying for your peace and safety in the days ahead!
For His glory,
The Bridge Montrose
This church also canceled their August 27 worship services. The Bridge Montrose was also getting out into the community and assisting people in need. On the church website there is a form people can submit for help. The church to the best of its ability also offered to help people out financially during this trying time. In addition the church is also planning a long term response in regards to clean up crews, lending tools and equipment and helping to find long term shelter for those who are displaced. On Twitter the church Tweeted the following.
Grace Bible Evangelical Free
I believe this Evangelical Free also canceled their services which are 9:00, 10:45 and 5:00. On the EFCA Facebook page on August 27 some video that the Senior Pastor of Grace Bible took was quite stunning. It showed the area in Houston both before and after the flooding. Grace Bible is also engaged in disaster fundraising. This church also was helping others out and requesting people volunteer to assist. You can read about it on their webpage.
Zion Church of Kurten
There was no information on Zion Church of Kurten and how they responded. I did check their webpage, Facebook and Twitter feed and found no information. Having stated that I did learn that EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent Bob Rowley was asking if people in Bryan and College Station could shelter people from the EFCA Crisis Response Team. So in all likelihood Zion Church probably put up a few people for the night.
Hope Evangelical Free
Like other Evangelical Free churches Hope canceled their worship service in anticipation of Harvey.
As the EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response Team was driving across Texas, EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent Bob Rowley asked Hope Evangelical Free if they could provide housing for the team in the Bryan and College Station area. I would also assume that Bob Rowley reached out to Zion Church of Kurten and asked them as well as they are located in Bryan. Hope agreed to do so and I believe several people opened up their homes and church facilities at Hope Evangelical Free. The following day when the Crisis Response Team continued on their journey the following was posted on the Hope Evangelical Free Facebook page.
The EFCA Reach Global Crisis Response Team has continued their journey into those areas most severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Please keep these individuals in your prayers.
Christ Community Church
Christ Community Church also canceled their Sunday service. What they did was have a brief service that was broadcast on Facebook where they sang some songs.
There hasn’t been any other information posted on their Facebook page, Twitter, or the church webpage. Now on the Senior Pastor’s Facebook page Jeff Payne shared updates and developments. Jeff actually documented his neighborhood being flooded. On his August 28 post you can see the rising water, and that can be compared with a later video.
Brenham Bible Church
Brenham canceled services for August 27 due to the approaching storm.
In the webpage Brenham appears to be playing a key role in the aftermath. Brenham called on church members to check on family and others that they knew. Brenham Bible is in Washington County, Texas and it has been designated as a pass-through city. Thousands of Texans will be passing through as they are removed from Houston. Brenham is going to assist those passing through the community on the way north I believe. From asking members to work at information booths at Walmart, to helping displaced families with medical emergencies the role that Brenham is playing in the community is indeed quite neat. You can read more on the following church webpage. This is what the church has Tweeted on Twitter.
Kevin Kompelien’s Message and what the National EFCA is Doing
Its my understanding that the EFCA kicked into action a few days before Harvey hit. On August 25 the denomination believed that 45 churches lie in the path of the storm. At the time it was not known where Harvey would hit land or the direction of the storm. The main areas of concern before the storm hit is Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi. You can read the first reporting on the EFCA as they respond to Harvey in “Hurricane Harvey Response.” The Crisis Response Network which is led by Mark Lewis was activated I believe, you can read more about the Mobilize Network here. On Facebook the following post was shared when the Crisis Response Team spent the night in Tyler, Texas on the way to Corpus Christi.
EFCA President Kevin Kompelien recorded a message asking for people to support hurricane disaster efforts. Kevin’s message is done well, and articulates the challenges facing the EFCA. Also, EFCA ReachGlobal response set a goal of raising a million dollars to help those devastated by Harvey. Apparently all 15 churches in the Houston or outlining areas in Texas had to deal with flooding. The EFCA ReachGlobal stated on their webpage that work will last for years in Houston. In raising funds for crisis support this is how ReachGlobal Crisis Support is breaking down the donations.
- $75 = Tools and safety gear to outfit a gutting team
- $100 = A clean-up kit to serve a flooded family
- $150 = Replacement of a family’s bedding
- $300 = A kit to help a flooded refugee family restart
- $750 = Flood repairs for a room for a family
- $1,500 = Sheetrock and related supplies for a partially flooded home
- $2,500 = A month’s support for an outreach worker
- $7,500 = Repairs to a partially damaged home
- $20,000 = Materials for complete restoration of a family’s flooded home.
Its important to remember that this is all just starting. Or as Winston Churchill famously stated once, its the end of the beginning. I plan to follow to and write about relief efforts in Texas as the situation develops. These efforts by the EFCA to meet the needs of the community are but a start, even though it will be an incredibly challenging one.
Some Encouragement, a Word of Caution, and Reminder to the EFCA as Houston will One Day Rise Again
For those who are interested its my understanding that newspapers that usually have walls due to subscription rates have lowered them during this time. That includes the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. These past few days I have been transfixed on the news coming out of Texas. Reading the details and the newer developments has been a deep shock. Here are some of my fears that I want to convey. First when you look at the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans one of them was the contraction of the city. There was a diaspora of the population and the city has never recovered to pre-population numbers. There were 445,000 people living in the city itself in 2004, today the city is at 344,000. Its my fear that the same situation will happen to Houston, and that the situation will be more dire due to Houston being the fourth biggest city in the United States. I also fear as to how Harvey will affect the poorer population who lack flood insurance and the means to recover. Hurricane Katrina cost $108 billion while Hurricane Sandy cost $65 billion. Its predicted that Harvey could cost up to $190 billion. That is staggering when you contemplate that fact. In addition one must also consider what Harvey will do to the lines of communication in Texas. Plus there is the oil and natural gas industry and that recovery as well. Other areas that will be affected will be education, culture, business, employment, health care and more. Its way to early to know as we are in the beginning. Early today I was reading an article on Politico about how Harvey will change Texas’s culture. Recovery from Harvey will be decades, and after all stop and consider that New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina.
This is a monumental task, and a time of history and culture is begin written and documented. And against all this you have the EFCA and its efforts which are starting in Corpus Christi. First I want to say that that the efforts by many of those 15 EFCA churches are to be commended. They have their work cut out, and they need all the support, help, prayers and more that can be provided. I also want to say something that needs to be reminded. For many people in Houston and Texas, how the EFCA engages them will either help them and their faith; or if they do not engage them correctly they will be adversely affected, could be driven away from the faith; or atheists could be empowered in many ways. Its not something that people want to hear especially as the challenges are going to increase significantly. But how many of those EFCA churches respond to this situation and have a long term vision and goal will help them. For me the basic of Christianity is loving your neighbor. And now is a time that reveals that issue. When people lack shelter, a warm shower, electricity, their property has been destroyed, pets are missing, the uncertainty of their job is hanging over their head; its in this season that the words of Jesus magnify when he said, “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” Well in Houston its projected that 30,000 are going to be displaced, and I predict that number is going to rise. The “least of these” is everyone that the EFCA and the ReachGlobal Crisis Response Team will come into contact with. The affection and love of some people years down the road will be created by how pastors like Jaron Jones, Zack McCoy, Jeff Payne and others respond. Its a monumental task when you contemplate that fact. Plus I would also suggest that in times like these it illustrates how often we miss the bigger picture of what faith is ultimately about. Its about loving your neighbor. If the EFCA wants to communicate the message of Jesus the best evangelism comes from an unconditional love that will be there for a person for years.
There is another point that I want to raise as well. I included in the above sections the links for the fundraising and disaster relief. I did so because in this time its important to do so and to get in the trenches. So from The Bridge Montrose to Shine Fellowship to Trinity Fellowship I am hoping people will give generously. We are a very compassionate culture and I have no doubt that some people will dig deep into their pockets to help others out. And yet I also have to give this warning to the EFCA that I feel should be addressed. This will be sensitive but its important that the powers that be acknowledge this issue. In the past there have been times where a disaster has struck, churches fundraise, and sometimes the money does not get to the intended recipients. One recent example comes from C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries (today Sovereign Grace Churches). In 2010 a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti and killed around 160,000 people. Here in the United States Sovereign Grace Ministries the organization called on people to give additionally as a part of earthquake relief. The money which was given allegedly never made it out to the field in Haiti. You can read about it in this thread here. So its important that the EFCA churches do this correctly. And before someone states “but we’re members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability” I would like to say the following. Mars Hill Seattle under Mark Driscoll raised $2.3 million to the Global Fund. In the end the money was never given to the intended beneficiaries in Ethiopia and elsewhere. ECFA’s response was quite poor and the leader of ECFA Dan Busby went after the bloggers and writers who raises the issue. ECFA has some serious systemic and systemic issues. You can read more in the following open letter I wrote to the Washington Attorney General asking for him to get involved. “An Open Letter to Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.” This is a sensitive issue and its one you probably don’t want to hear about. I get that, I don’t enjoy raising that issue either, but let’s do this right EFCA. I am linking all these churches and throwing this blog behind their fundraising efforts, but lets do this transparency for the Lord. Lets do this right so that when a massive hurricane hits Georgia in 2022 people prior financial scandals won’t affect service to those in need. I believe you guys can do this well and do this in a way that honors the Lord.
My heart and mind is with those 15 EFCA churches in Texas. During this difficult time their efforts to show love and compassion should be remembered. Those who labor out of love to serve others in the aftermath of the costliest hurricane in United States history deserve our support and prayers. In the next couple of weeks I will give a small amount, and I want to encourage others to give as well. But for those outside the area we can also pray and support your efforts. Those people in Texas that are suffering are not doing so alone. They are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who love, care and are here for them as well. I look forward to writing about this issue form time to time. If I hear any incredible stories coming out of any of those 15 EFCA churches in Texas then I will be honored to write about it and draw attention to it. Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi will rise up. And the EFCA will have played a role in helping and honoring the Lord in the process. That’s the post for the day EFCA, take care and know that you are loved and not alone in Texas. Many are standing alongside you in thoughts, heart and mind.