An Authentic Response to Harvey

An Awesome Opportunity to Help People

with What they Desperately Needed

By Kyle Howell (Authentic, Victoria)

I’ll always say that hurricane Harvey was definitely a devastating and unwanted force of nature. It brought a great deal of destruction, pain, and loss. This was actually my first hurricane to ever go through. I am from tornado country where you typically get a few minutes to maybe an hours’ notice of when a storm is coming. What I’ve noticed about hurricanes is that the build up to it is a few days before. So there is an uneasy feeling in the air with everyone. They’re wondering how big the storm will be and where exactly it will make landfall. We left the night before it hit, so we had to wait a week before we could get back in town. The hardest part about that was wondering what was going to be left behind. When we returned to town, there was pretty much what we had expected, trees down, fences down, signs had fallen, roofs were badly damaged, and there was great deal of work to be done. There was also a great deal of electric that was down all throughout the city. It would be thirteen days before we would get ours back. The city water had also been infected, so that was another huge obstacle to deal with. The stores were quickly running out of bottled water and none of the grocery stores or restaurants were open.

Authentic parking lot

As for our church building, our fence was blown down, we had a broken window, and we had some water damage on the inside. Nothing we couldn’t fix, although we’re still working on the fence. My house had about the same with the fence and a broken window, but our roof was badly damaged. We have to fix the fence, replace windows, get a whole new roof and fix the water damage inside the house.

authentic food

Well that was a quick picture of the ramifications of the storm and the negative effects it left behind. But after all of that, I was amazed at what the church worldwide did and how it responded. It wasn’t just that people from churches did things, but how quickly people responded and the amount of churches that did blew me away! I have now been in contact with multiple people from Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan, Alabama, and others that I know I have forgotten, or just didn’t know they were doing things behind the scenes. The first opportunity we had to open up our church (our church that wasn’t finished being remodeled yet and hadn’t had people in it yet) gave us an awesome opportunity to help people with supplies that they desperately needed. We were given food, clothing, baby supplies, water, and cleaning supplies. We saw a lot of people come through our doors that we helped and prayed with. Some have stayed in contact with us since. The second load of supplies that were graciously given to us was even bigger. We sorted it out and planned for another event to help as many as we could. This time people showed up before we had said we were going to be open. So we began earlier and our whole parking lot was completely full! We easily had 200 people come through our doors. All in about one hours’ time. At one time there was no room for anyone to park in our parking lot, so we went to the cars and began to ask if they wanted water. So we were carrying water out to cars in the street waiting to come in for supplies. People were so thankful and had the opportunity to get the supplies they had been needing to take care of their families.

Authentic water

And while we received supplies from churches, we also received financial help from many as well. That was huge! Again I am still amazed at how many of you were willing to donate to help this cause down here. Because of you, we were able to help three families within the church team with fences, laundry, food, clothes, baby supplies, and tons of other physical needs. Another family with the damages to their house that they were not going to get fixed from insurance, help another elderly woman who had no insurance, and also financially assist a family, who still have not been able to return to their home because of mold, to pay for hotels. There are still others that we are finding and learning about to help. We have not had to turn anyone away who needs help because of your generosity. There are a few widows in the community who are waiting to find out if they will receive assistance. If they receive nothing, or not enough, we are standing by to help them, again because of your outpouring of support.

Authentic chainsaw

Churches are still in contact with us and asking how they can help. Even today I have been contacted asking if more supplies can be brought our way. I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you out there who stepped up and became the hands and feet of Christ and showed the hurting world what the church is all about. I know most of you did not get the opportunity to be around the many needy and hurting people, but I can tell you that it was truly amazing to get to be a part of showing them that God does care about them and that He has not forgotten them.

authentic prayer 2

While I didn’t like that Harvey happened and that people lost much of their stuff and many more people were inconvenienced, or worse, I am thankful to get the chance to be in this with all of the churches. I’m thankful to get an opportunity to get in people’s lives when they need help the most and have the privilege to point them to Christ. We’re doing our grand opening on October 22nd and I have a feeling that we will see many new faces and hopefully get to see people turn their lives over to Christ. I again want to thank so many of you out there, because you had a hand in connecting us with them.

authentic crowd

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