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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2017 State Meeting Review

We had a wonderful program courtesy of Free Will Baptist International Missions

By Marcus Brewer (State Office Coordinator)

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The 103rd Annual Session of the Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists met June 7-9 at the Collin Creek Church in Plano. The schedule was full of events including worship services, seminars and workshops, fellowship, and business. This year’s theme was “Go Global”, and we were privileged to have representatives from Free Will Baptist International Missions to join us for this meeting and fill much of our program.

Sam McVay and Jerry Gibbs led a workshop for pastors and workers on Wednesday afternoon, to help us consider the needs of missionaries who are visiting our churches to raise support and what we can do to help maximize those visits.

Wednesday evening marked the formal beginning of the meeting and, after great music by the Collin Creek praise team and their Patch Club youth group, David Outlaw delivered a tremendous message on the Biblical basis for missions. In that message, the estimated 115 people in attendance heard David describe missions events throughout the Bible starting with Abraham in Genesis 12 and ending in Revelation, narrating a consistent Biblical theme from the beginning to the end of the Book.

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David Outlaw

Thursday morning provided an opportunity for attendees to learn more about what FWB IM is doing around the world and learn more about the needs, concerns, and accomplishments of our missionaries in their various fields of service. Among the topics of discussion, we learned about programs such as ETEAM and CMP, and we learned about what items make up a typical missionary’s monthly budget. Sam McVay, Jerry Gibbs, Jaimie Lancaster, David Outlaw, Dennis Teague, and Lazaro Riesgo took turns sharing prepared information, answering questions, and sharing their experiences with those present.

Thursday afternoon was our traditional opening business session, where we heard Marcus Brewer deliver the Moderator’s Message about trends in the Texas population and how God is bringing the world’s mission field to us, if we will take advantage of the opportunities that the Holy Spirit leads us to. We also heard reports and updates from our national and denominational ministries to learn of new activities and events across the country.

Thursday night’s worship service was again opened with music by the Collin Creek praise team before turning it over to the IM team to take us on a virtual tour of the world. Sam McVay, Jaimie and Tammy Lancaster, Dennis and Carol Teague, and Lazaro Riesgo shared facts about each country or field where Free Will Baptists have missionaries, as well as details of some of our missionaries and the people that they minister to. It was a great opportunity to easily see where our missionaries serve and learn how to pray for them and support them.

Friday morning was the closing business session, where we heard reports from our state boards and committees, elected officers for 2018, and took care of remaining business. In that session, the body voted to approve a $34,100 budget for the State Office for 2018, voted to give $4,000 to International Missions to offset their travel expenses and show appreciation for their service, and accepted the invitation of the Pine Prairie Church in Huntsville to host the 2018 Annual Meeting.

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Finally, we are looking for your feedback on the scheduling and programming of the State Meeting, and we are always on the lookout for potential hosts of future annual meetings. At the State Meeting this year we distributed a printed survey to ask people about their preferences on scheduling, timing, and program content of the meeting.  If you were unable to complete one of those surveys in person, we would like to invite you to complete it electronically.  You can complete the survey one of two ways: either by requesting and returning the survey’s Word file, or by going to our SurveyMonkey page and answering the questions there.  Both surveys ask the same questions, so just complete the survey once per person.  All responses will be treated as anonymous, unless you wish your name to be attached to your answers. Whether you attend the State Meeting every year or you have never attended (or anywhere in between), we would like to get your feedback on what would make our meeting more enjoyable and more  effective. Please help us by going to our online survey, or if you prefer, we can send you a copy of the Word file and you can fill out the survey form and return it by e-mail.

If you have any questions or discussion about these or any other item, please contact the state office at stateoffice@texasfwb.org. Many thanks to the good folks at Collin Creek for hosting this year’s meeting, and we’ll see you in Huntsville next year!

2017 Leadership Conference

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ANTIOCH, TN—Pastors and church leaders from across the nation will gather December 4-5 at Nashville Airport Marriott Hotel for the 2017 Free Will Baptist Leadership Conference. During the two-day conference, keynote speaker Clark Dickerson will explore the theme Leading With Integrity.

Through 40 years of fund-raising experience including more than three decades as a fund-raising consultant for Christian organizations, Clark Dickerson has provided counsel for hundreds of organizations. Clark holds an undergraduate degree from Wabash College, a Masters of Education from Indiana State University and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Indiana University.

Clark founded Dickerson and Associates in 1985 and later merged with a friend and colleague to form Dickerson, Bakker, and Associates. As capital campaigns team leader for the company, he focuses more exclusively on assisting ministries, providing guidance to other consulting team members, and sharing his knowledge and experience through teaching, writing, and presenting.

Clark Dickerson
During the two-day conference, keynote speaker Clark Dickerson will explore the theme Leading With Integrity.

“In a world where integrity is sadly lacking, it is important for leaders to be reminded of its value,” noted Executive Secretary Keith Burden. “The world is watching every move the Church makes. We can never place too much emphasis on the importance of integrity for those leading churches and ministry organizations.”

Additional keynote sessions will feature Will Beauchamp, pastor of First FWB Church, Seffner, Florida, and Gene Williams, pastor of Parkers Chapel FWB Church, Greenville, North Carolina. Special music will be provided by Welch College, including Rejoice! ensemble and The College Choir under the direction of Dr. James Stevens.

Registration for the 2017 conference is $195 and includes all materials and meals. Registration is available online. Rooms are available at the Nashville Airport Marriott for $137/night plus tax. Visit www.nafwb.org/leadershipconference to register and make hotel reservations.

 

Shelter From the Storm (part 3)

We were able to be the church to people in their time of need.

In Tuesday’s post, I shared how God worked mightily, enabling us to shelter many people during the rising flood waters during Hurricane Harvey. Yesterday I shared an amazing story of God’s awesome timing. Today, I want to share what we witnessed as the clean up effort began.

By Randy Puckett (Eagle Heights Church, Richmond)

Our season as a shelter came and went quickly. We then began to reach out to our community. We took hot meals and essential supplies like paper towels, water, toilet paper, diapers and more to the neighborhoods near Eagle Heights Church that were so dramatically affected. We helped people move furniture to storage, or heartrendingly, to their curb to be picked up. We tore out sheet rock and flooring that floodwaters had destroyed. We hugged our unknown neighbors; we prayed with people standing in the middle of their ruined possessions, now out in the rain, on their curbs. We connected. We were able to be the church to people in their time of need. It was a powerful, heartbreaking, and life-changing few days! All of the food, clothing, supplies, and any other items that were not passed out, or were not used by the evacuees were sent in different directions. We made significant donations of supplies that God abundantly had given to us, passing them along to ministries in Victoria, Port Arthur, and Rockport, TX. We also contributed to a local charity in the Sugar Land/Richmond area that serves people in these ways year-round.

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So now that I’ve shared the story, please let me say THANK YOU. Thank you that you and your church family have been a part of that provision. Thank you so much for your prayers. We had such amazing monetary support that came in from all over. Most of the people in our area do have not have flood insurance. Their homes are in bad condition and there has been a great need for help. We are helping people with between 1 and 3 1/2 feet of water standing in their homes. Most have lost everything on their first floor, including the sheetrock, flooring, furniture, and usually they have lost the majority of their clothing. Many have lost at least one of their cars as well. Fortunately most of the cars are covered by insurance, though not all have full coverage.

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Because of the incredibly generous gifts given, we have distributed over $28,000 in grants. That money has gone almost exclusively to individuals and families, with more gifts yet to go out. Some has gone to other churches ministering in hard-hit areas – to allow them to help their church members and communities like we have. We are helping individuals with an average gift of $1487 per family. Those dollars are given to repair homes, and replace damaged possessions. We are blessed to be the face of YOUR CHURCH’S GENEROSITY! I have told all of them, as I handed them the check, that their gift came from Christians all over the United States; people who obeyed God’s voice and sent financial help to the people in Houston. One of our main prayers from all of this is that this will be a catalyst event for the people from the shelter to grow closer to God. He is answering that prayer, but we know that there is so much more yet to be done in this area. Please continue to pray with us! This has been a life-changing experience for me. To be transparent, it was one of those times in a pastor’s life where you can’t help but think, “If our church never makes a difference in this community again, I know we did this time!” As I write these words, I can’t help but be so amazingly humbled. I was able to make that impact because of so many other people’s obedience to God’s call–people just like you.

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So here I sit, and to say that a “Thank you” seems so inadequate is a huge understatement in itself! How can I make this worthy of your sacrifice? I can only say, maybe it will be worthy of your generosity if we let this be a reminder that the God who you serve is able to take feeble efforts and make them bring about incredible results. A modern-day loaves and fishes story! Maybe in this story, you will be reminded that God works in amazing ways… and He usually chooses to do that through His people! I’ll never forget your kindness. Thank you and may God bless you.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Access the Eagle Heights Church Facebook page or Eagle Heights Church’s website

Both have videos, pics, stories, and information, and from people who were displaced and stayed in the shelter.
VIDEO: “Harvey 1” and “Harvey 2” are 2 different videos that we have online. Access them through the webpage  or the FaceBook Page timeline.
PICTURES: Access pictures at eagleheightschurch.org/hurricane-harvey-relief/
PODCASTS: If you are interested in the happenings of the shelter or the reactions of the
people who were served by the shelter, you can check out EHC’s “Shelter Stories” podcast
from September 17, 2017.

Jerry McArthur in Concert

Southern Gospel…Country Style

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Sunday October 8th

5:00 PM

Good Hope Free Will Baptist Church

2114 FM 840 East, Henderson, TX

A love offering will be received.

In addition to singing, Jerry is Field Representative for Free Will Baptist Family Ministries, working in Texas and Oklahoma. “I have the privilege of sharing the good news that Family Ministries is involved in with our churches, as well as individuals and businesses,” he says. “God is so good.”

Shelter From the Storm (part 2)

Make sure you grasp how amazing our God is!

In yesterday’s post, I shared how God worked mightily, enabling us to shelter many people during the rising flood waters during Hurricane Harvey. Today I want to share one particular story that displays God’s glory.

By Randy Puckett (Eagle Heights Church, Richmond)

In the waves of people that came, we had people from homes, from apartment complexes, and even parking lots that were brought to our shelter. A small group was brought by a large bus to Eagle Heights Church on Day 2. We unloaded them, along with their pets, and their clothing. As they went in to get a bite to eat, the young officer driving the bus that just dropped them off told me that there was obvious substance abuse going on with a few of the people he had just dropped off. He identified them specifically from the group, so I could watch them closely and keep the others safe. He encouraged me to get them to their home ASAP, but said he had to aid them in their evacuation and take them to a safe environment. It was his job.

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As I spoke to the officer, one of our own volunteers who knew nothing of our conversation came outside to where we were standing. She said, “We have to get these people out of here. They are clearly on substances right now. They’re a danger to everyone in the shelter.” By the way, one of these people admitted to me later that she was under the influence when she came in, so this was no false alarm or over-reaction! At the same moment we stood deciding how we could possibly remove the threat to everyone there (including babies and many children), one of my friends from the local area, Pastor Lance Guess, pulled up in his SUV. He had been there dropping off supplies at the other end of the building, and I had not known he was there. He stopped 20 feet from where we were standing. Here is where I must tell you about Lance; he stands about 6’4’’ and about 3-feet wide. His size and his command bring calm to the crazy, I promise you! Lance opened his car door, stepped out and said, “Pastor, is there anything else that you need me to do for you guys before I leave?” I laughed. Then I told him, “As a matter of fact there is! I need you to take these people who are dealing with chemical dependency to their home. You can make it and they will be safe on their third floor apartment, but they can’t stay here and put the other 125 people here at risk. It’s a bad situation, but I need someone who can handle the danger and ensure the other people’s safety. Are you willing to do that?” He said he would do it. He said it was not a problem at all! Pastor Lance’s wife, Delana, stayed at EHC and we sent an additional volunteer to go with him. The volunteer drove, and Lance was hands-free… just in case craziness won out with these folks.

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After they left, Delana spoke to Shelly. As they talked, Delana asked Shelly if we knew anything about her husband’s past. Shelly said no, we did not. Delana then told Shelly that Pastor Lance was a former boxer. Further, she said that Pastor Lance had spent approximately 20 years working as a guardian in the juvenile detention system. Let me say it: I could not have ordered a better person for this job FROM AMAZON! Pastor Lance had the right heart, the right skill set, and showed up right when we needed him! Further, just so I could not miss God’s clear and amazing provision, he got his 6’4’’ inch frame out of the car, and asked us to tell him how he could serve; right in the moment! Wow! Make sure you grasp how amazing our God is; Pastor Lance had already been sent to us by God BEFORE any of us even knew that there was a need we should be looking to solve or pray for! I will say again and again, what an incredible God we serve!

I could share even more examples of how God knew our need, even before we knew that a need existed! I could tell you of how He moved in so many hearts and met needs supernaturally – how God used people locally, as well as people from miles and miles away. God did it all, and if you were one of the many who gave, I want you to know He used YOU as part of His plan to serve our community! If I have learned anything from this amazing experience, it is that God is a God “who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think”! (Ephesians 3:20)

After the floods receded, we closed the shelter, but the story doesn’t end there. Tomorrow, I will share what it was like to go into the communities and help with clean up.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Access the Eagle Heights Church Facebook page or Eagle Heights Church’s website

Both have videos, pics, stories, and information, and from people who were displaced and stayed in the shelter.
VIDEO: “Harvey 1” and “Harvey 2” are 2 different videos that we have online. Access them through the webpage  or the FaceBook Page timeline.
PICTURES: Access pictures at eagleheightschurch.org/hurricane-harvey-relief/
PODCASTS: If you are interested in the happenings of the shelter or the reactions of the
people who were served by the shelter, you can check out EHC’s “Shelter Stories” podcast
from September 17, 2017.

Shelter From the Storm (part 1)

As flood waters rose, this church sprung into action.

By Randy Puckett (Eagle Heights, Richmond)

I want to say thank you so much for everyone who has been involved in meeting the needs here in the Houston area. Knowing you were praying and standing with us was an amazing source of strength! I want you know what has come of both your financial and prayer support during this time.

It all began on August 27. I was busy canceling Sunday worship. On Saturday, I had thought we might be okay. We’ve had tropical storms before, and we had stayed high and dry, so I wasn’t worried. But we woke up to a flooded street on Sunday morning, something we had never, ever seen before. We couldn’t make it to church, even if we wanted to hold a service. With worship canceled, my wife Shelly and I sat down to watch the news, as things got crazier and crazier all over the Houston area. All the while, the rain just kept falling. Even when there were hours with no rainfall, the water level in our streets stayed the same, or kept rising, never falling. I think that is when we knew we were in trouble.

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As Shelly and I watched the news, we both felt God moving us to try to use His building to help the community, but we did not know how to do that. However, we did know the church property was built on high ground. We decided that I would reach out to our local Constable Wayne Thompson (a member of Eagle Heights Church), and ask if he thought the community could be helped if EHC was opened as a shelter. Despite the mad rush he was in the midst of, protecting and evacuating people in our community, he answered me immediately: “Yes!” I told him that we would open EHC as a shelter. He asked how soon we would be ready to go. I told him 1 hour, 30 minutes. He basically said, “get ready for a whole lot of people!”

My neighbor is a get-it- done-no-matter-what guy who attends our church, and he said he would help me. So we walked to the end of our street. There he and I jumped the fence ,and walked a few yards to the road, where we met another church member, who had driven from a dry area to pick us up. We got to EHC, and within an hour and 15 minutes of our decision to open as a shelter, people started arriving. We had no food, no clothes, no towels, no bedding, no supplies, and no idea what was about to happen next! But we also had no idea how clearly God was about to supernaturally show up in amazing ways! And further, it would become just as abundantly clear that He was all we really needed.

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We opened thinking that we would simply be a staging area. We knew that people would
need a safe place to escape the storm for a few hours. They’d need food to eat and probably a way to dry off. They could get online at EHC to make motel reservations, and get updates from the local stations playing on our TV. Maybe EHC would be a rendezvous point where family could come pick them up. As people began to arrive we realized that the people who came were facing mandatory evacuations. Roads were closing each hour. These people needed a place not only to get dry for a few hours, but a place to stay safe throughout the night and even into the next few days. It was all so uncertain! We began processing and checking people in. I was fearful that our shelter might feel like it was a Hurricane Katrina/Superdome situation. I wanted them cared for well, but mostly, I wanted them safe.

Starting at 12:45PM Monday until we officially closed the shelter on Friday afternoon, we
served 250-275 evacuees from our community. Along with them came their 60-65 dogs, cats, and one bird! I was feeling more and more like Noah by the hour, what with all the animals and the rain that just wouldn’t stop! That first night, we housed and provided for approximately 200 people in 2 common areas. It was incredible! The next day, we only needed to house and provide for about 125 people. The final two nights, we had only around 35 people each night. I say “only,” but clearly it was 35 more people than we ever expected to house as guests at what we began to call “Chateau de Eagle Heights.” However, we know that during the first few days, when the anxiety here was sky-high; when people were so uncertain that their family would be together and safe; when the need for basic supplies, food, and shelter was absolutely critical; we were able to be there for them!

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I cannot tell you how many calls, texts, and donations I received from fellow churches and pastors. God used all of you to meet needs here both DURING and AFTER the storm (more on that later). It allowed us to focus on serving rather than worrying how the needs would be supplied. It was an absolute whirlwind, but it was truly incredible! I cannot even express how amazing it was to see our church “being the church” in our community during those days. The ways that God met needs was nothing short of supernatural!

I could speak on this for hours, but if you come back tomorrow, I will take a moment to relate just one story that shows His glory.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Access the Eagle Heights Church Facebook page or Eagle Heights Church’s website

Both have videos, pics, stories, and information, and from people who were displaced and stayed in the shelter.
VIDEO: “Harvey 1” and “Harvey 2” are 2 different videos that we have online. Access them through the webpage  or the FaceBook Page timeline.
PICTURES: Access pictures at eagleheightschurch.org/hurricane-harvey-relief/
PODCASTS: If you are interested in the happenings of the shelter or the reactions of the
people who were served by the shelter, you can check out EHC’s “Shelter Stories” podcast
from September 17, 2017.

Woodforest Church Hurricane Relief Efforts

Getting involved with the clean out and cleanup

By Heath Ferguson (Woodforest, Houston)

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Hurricane Harvey was the storm that would not go away. Even one month after the storm that dropped the greatest amount of rainfall in the history of the United States we are still dealing with the aftermath. Nearly 65 inches of rain fell over the course of four days leaving behind flood waters and over-filled reservoirs that have wreaked havoc on southeast Texas. When the Lord opened the literal flood gates on our state he also opened the floodgates of need to follow. This is when and where the churches of the Houston area stepped in and went into the most distressed neighborhoods.

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Woodforest Free Will Baptist Church got involved with the clean out and cleanup effort immediately following the storm. Just days after the skies cleared a group from Phoenix, AZ drove in with a 56-foot horse trailer full of supplies totaling 16,000 pounds (blowing 4 tires along the way) and dropped them off for distribution. Within hours of arrival every bottle of water and cleaning supply and food item was distributed to local shelters from Montgomery, TX down to Cuero, TX. We had crews go into River Plantation, the hardest hit neighborhood in Montgomery County, where 450 of the 1300 homes were destroyed. Sheetrock and insulation soaked by floodwaters and laden with e-coli and other bacteria and mold lined the streets at a height no less than 8 feet tall.  For blocks these walls of waste stood on both sides of the streets intermingled with the lives of the thousands of people effected. Children’s toys, clothes, TVs, furniture, appliances, each piece was a reminder that these are not just houses, they are homes filled with love and life.

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We asked the inevitable question, “what can we do to help?” The answers came to us without our needing to search. Money started coming in as churches took up offerings. So, we opened a Hurricane Relief Fund and went to social media to ask for $5,000. Very quickly the amount went over $11,000, so we went back to social media and raised the goal to $15,000. When the amount eclipsed $20,000 we sat back, did not ask for another amount, and let God bring in what we needed to help. To date, God has seen fit to send over $60,000 to our Hurricane Relief Fund and every single dollar sent has and will be used to help the victims of the flood. We have purchased insulation, sheet rock, chemicals and bleach hotel rooms, meals, and gift cards, all to be used by these families.

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One family we met by nothing less than a divine appointment. My wife and I were checking on the home of a member of our church who had not been able to make it back to her home because of the rising Spring Creek. We went to the area to find the creek had receded to around 2 feet over the street level. Just then a truck pulled up and others whose homes were on the other side jumped in the back. We joined them for the short ride over the creek. Every person was nervous, not knowing what they would find on the other side. We met a couple headed to their home for the first time. They knew they were flooded but did not know the extent. As my wife and I checked on our member’s home they were to their own home. After about 10 minutes we joined them and walked through their disjointed life as they shed tears. They have no family in the US. They have no church. At that moment, they had no home. That’s the moment that God sent us to them. Our church has put them in a hotel, cleared their home of damaged furniture and sheetrock, fed them, and showed them the love of God. Shortly after our meeting with them the wife, who has worked tirelessly since this storm began, said “we have been looking for a church family and now we have one.” Interesting comment seeing that they have never stepped foot in our church. However, church is not confined to the walls of a building. This flood has forced us to take God’s church to the community. The husband sent me a text saying, “every day I thank God for that short ride in the truck across the creek.” This is what it looks like when the church leaves the confines of its building…and God has pushed us outside of His building and into His fields.

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There are several stories that we have just like this one that end in our meeting and helping a family in their very worst moment. God opened doors and hearts and in this tragedy His name will be lifted high. When this all started God began to speak to me about what He wanted us to do. It did not involve a hurricane relief fund or helping families, it involved showing His love to people in need. So, in obedience to His word to me, I told our church we are going out to show God’s love. We are not building a church or inviting people to come. That is not the point of this. The whole reason for our existence in not to build churches, which is an odd thing for a church planter to say. The whole reason for our existence is to lift high the name of the Lord. God will take care of the rest. If we will be who God desires for us to be than He will build His church as a side effect of our obedience. God’s name has been glorified, not on the backs and sweat of Woodforest Church, but on the goodness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We just happened to be in this place at this time.

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Pray for our church as we continue to help financially and physically that God will continue to open door spiritually. We have already seen hardened hearts become softened and the seed we are planting are starting to grow. The skeptical world is allowing us an opportunity to serve and it is being used by the Holy Spirit to speak to hearts. Even in the flood, when so much is lost and lives are devastated, God has a plan. We desire to be a part of that plan, to bring glory to the one who who’s never seen a storm to wet or a flood so deep that He could not save every person.

Redeeming Devotions at WAC Meeting

Henderson’s First Free Will Baptist Church hosted the East Texas District Women Active for Christ meeting on September 16, 2017.

By Mitzi Burks (First, Henderson)

Judy Smith, Acting President, took care of business with new officers being elected for 2018-2019:

Coordinator — Mitzi Burks

Assistant Coordinator — Judy Smith

Secretary/Treasurer — Rita Brinkley

Mission Prayer Coordinator — Elsa Anderson

Mitzi Burks shared Elizabeth Hodges’ WNAC 2017 Celebration Report, reviewing the Lord’s accomplishments through women this past year.

Dr. Jan Banks spoke on ‘Redeeming Personal Devotions’ and a fellowship luncheon followed. Below are excerpts from Dr. Banks presentation. The entire presentation can be viewed on You Tube.

Probably all of us have struggled with personal devotions on occasion. Personal devotions are what we’re “supposed to do” as Christ followers; however, they may have become ritualistic, lost meaning, or not grown as they should have. Devotions are expressions of the relationship we have with the Lord, a time to be with the Lord for Him to speak to us, for us to listen and respond. Jesus has already redeemed our personal relationships when He died on the cross, but maybe our personal devotions need improvement, so they can be all that thy were meant to be, to reach their true worth.

How do we redeem personal devotions?

1) Pray

We’ve got to pray. “Lord help me, draw me; Lord, I want to know You more! Thank you for the privilege of talking to You, but I want more, Lord I want to know you more in this life.”

2) Plan

Determine the best time in the day for you, this will be different for every person. Schedule the time – we schedule everything else – doctor’s appointments, work, children pick-up, etc. And don’t belittle this relationship with the Lord. Unplugged, uninterrupted time! If someone calls and asked if you are busy, say, “Yes; I’ll call you back later, if this is not an emergency.” Remember in your planning, you need a Bible, pen, electronic device, notebook, journal, and yourself. God will be with You– you may not feel His presence, but He will be with you.

3) Stick to it!

Jesus made this possible and He will give you the help to do it!

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What are the benefits of redeeming personal devotions?

1) A greater closeness to God and improved trust in God.

Psalm 145:18; Proverbs 3:5-6; James 4:8. Trusting in God and trusting God are two different things; trust God with our selves when difficult situations arise; we will get through this and it will be okay.

2) Grow more into likeness of Christ; godliness

Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; I Timothy 4:7-8. The closer we get to the Lord the more we become like Jesus. The Holy Spirit changes us. The more time you spend with God the more you become like Him.

3) Transformed mind/mind-heart ‘being’ transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2. The Holy Spirit changes us. Change what goes into your mind; replace with what is healthy, Godly. His Holy Spirit changes us and transforms us to be more like Jesus.

4) Peace/relief in spite of trials, difficulties, challenges

Philippians 4:4-8. Memorize scripture. We can do it and the Holy Spirit will help us to do it. What do you think about these days? What do you meditate on?

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Dr. Banks challenged us to read the Gospels, the stories of Jesus, His life, His teachings, and to linger. What did we hear the Lord say? We can read the Word, but what did we hear Him say? And do not make excuses! When Susanna Wesley pulled her apron over her head, that meant she was in prayer and couldn’t be disturbed. She had 19 biological children; John & Charles Wesley were two of her children who reached millions of souls for Christ. Susanna made daily time with the Lord and we can to! Ask the Lord to help you figure out the time, He will.

Teach me, draw me, and make me more like You, Jesus!

Men’s Retreat

“Unite” with us October 20-21

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Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).

That is the key verse for the 2017 Men’s Retreat. The theme is “United.” We will look at how we can build each other up at home, church and in our state association. We look forward to seeing all of you there!

COTH-Crosses

Date: October 20-21

Location: Camp of the Hills in Marble Falls, TX

Schedule

Friday, October 20th

1:00pm – Arrival time open (contact main office at camp for cabin and meeting site)

4:00pm – Registration

6:00pm – Snacks Available

8:30pmSession #1 – Baxter Horton

Saturday, October 21st

8:00am – Breakfast

9:00amMorning Session – Heath Ferguson

10:30am – Group Activities

12:30pm – Lunch

1:00pmWrap-up session – Baxter Horton

2:00pm – Hit the road to home

Cost: $65 (scholarships are available)

Register: Baxter Horton

baxterhorton1979@gmail.com

972-742-6860

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