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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Eastside Takes on Harvey

Amid Devastating Floods, This Church’s Hope Remains Afloat

By Aimee Erskins (Eastside, Houston)

Sunday August 27, a day when we should have been in church was instead a day when Houston became an island. Hurricane Harvey came and dumped 56 inches of rain in 24 hours. This rain brought flooding, power outages, and so much devastation. The Sheldon community, where Eastside Church is, was hit the hardest. The streets were flooded, and thanks to the Cajun Navy and the US Coast Guard, they rescued many of congregation and the people around the church.

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Intersection of Tidwell and Beltway 8, the church is less than a mile down Tidwell.

The homes across the street had up to 10 inches of water; homes down from the church had 3 feet of water in them. Hearing and seeing the devastation on TV and Facebook made our hearts break. We had to watch it all unfold on TV because there was not a drivable path to the church. When we finally were able to get to church, we found the unthinkable. Water! When Tropical Storm Allison came through many years ago, the church had water damage from the roof. This time it came through the doors. We were in shock. Walking through our church seeing standing water in some areas, the soaked carpet everywhere, it was overwhelming. This was until we walked into the big sanctuary. The sanctuary was DRY! God’s work is amazing! “We are Saved!” is what went through our head! Yes, the church has water in it, but the sanctuary was SAVED! As we drove through the neighborhoods and seeing the mountains of people’s personal possessions piled in the street, it brought everything back.

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One church member’s home that had three feet of water

God has a purpose for Eastside: our community. Phone calls of prayer and help came flooding in! Then donations came of food, blankets, money, and water. Our community needs these donations and that’s where they went. Sheldon is a low income area. One elementary, junior high and the only High School were destroyed by the flood. The students in Sheldon have free or reduced lunch, and for them to think of starting over, they broke down. That’s when we stepped in. We have given out food, blankets, paid a bill on their behalf, and helped them rip out carpet, and sheetrock.

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Pastor Kenneth Mayo giving a check to a Carroll Elementary for School Supplies.
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Bro. Kenneth gives a check to Monahan Elementary for school supplies.
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The new education wing floor, where food is distributed to those in need.

The one thing that we as a church said is that the Devil can’t bring us down. Our congregation and even those who haven’t stepped foot in church in years, came to help us with our carpet. God has plan for this devastation, and we are following his plan.

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Our Hispanic pastor, Bro. Freddie Buenrostro carries out trash.
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Even the youngest helper helping clean up, you can notice the lack of carpet.
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The third pile of trash that was pulled from the inside of the church, awaiting someone to take it to a dumpster.
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The pastor’s office, while we are taking out carpet.
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Another office and sound room missing carpet.
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Removal of carpet.
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Hallway with no carpet, the prior carpet was glued down, and the yellow is the glue residue.
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Recovery is tiresome, and we all need a rest. Please continue praying for Eastside and our community.

Trust the Process

Parenting and Discipleship Take Time

By Jonathan McNeese (Woodforest, Houston)

Growing up, we sang a song in children’s church that went something like this:

He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.

At the time, I don’t think that I really grasped what a great truth that song was teaching, but, as I look back, I can see the rich value held in its words. Romans 8:29 says: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” We all know the great responsibility that we as parents have in the nurturing of the children to which God has entrusted us. That great responsibility is only made more difficult as our children grow, begin to make their own choices and make our job as parents near impossible. At times, we may wonder, “what did I get myself into?”

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Warning: Do not raise your children this way.

Still, the reality is that spiritual growth is not a parental task that can be completed on the microwave aisle or even the crock-pot aisle to simply “set and forget.” Rather, God expects parents to lead our children through the process of sanctification emphasizing the small victories along the way. Christlikeness is something that our children must understand takes time and will not be complete until we stand before God one day in heaven.

 

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers
Feb 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Fans with a sign showing support for the Philadelphia 76ers during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Wells Fargo Center. The Pacers defeated the 76ers 106-95. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Until that time, let us invest every ounce of influence we can muster into our children’s lives recognizing that we play an important role in God’s eternal plan for their lives. The Philadelphia 76ers made national news a few years back using the tagline “trust the process” concerning their unorthodox, slow-moving player development that was taking years to produce results. Their front office personnel remained adamant that they would eventually see the desired finished product if the fans gave them time to develop as they intended. Even though the 76ers have still not seen the success they desire, it is evident that they realize that sports like generational discipleship involves days, weeks, months and even years.

 

The next time your child makes a mistake that you feel like is completely inexcusable remember to speak the truth in love. God does not give up on us when we fail Him, and we should not treat our children any differently. Surround your family with prayer and love, trust the process of God working in their heart, and you will see him do amazing things that we could never imagine.

TWAC Ladies Retreat…Girls Time!

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Come evening or morning or both…we’re gonna have a great

GIRLS TIME!

October means summer is past, school has started, and it is time for a girls get together! This will be an encouraging time of fellowship, prayer, and Bible study

and it’s FREE…yes FREE!

You provide your own food and lodging (the hotel and restaurant lists are provided at texasfwb.org/twac). All you need to do is RSVP to mburks@eastex.net or LILLIAN55@consolidated.net by October 6, and come ready to be revived and encouraged.

Schedule

Laughter & Latte Friday, October 13

6:30PM

Latte Fellowship

7:00PM

Teaser Session for the Study

Prayer Time

Games and Snacks

Muffins & Meditation Saturday, October 14

9:30AM

Muffin Fellowship

10:00AM

The Girl’s Still Got It!

Missions Moment

Share Time

The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth

You know Ruth’s story. Now meet her in person. And prepare to be changed. Walk with Ruth as she travels from Moab to Bethlehem, certain of her calling, yet uncertain of her future. Hold Naomi’s hand and watch love put the pieces of her broken life back together. and hang out with Boaz, their kinsman-redeemer, who blesses both women and honors God, big time. With best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs by your side, you’ll tarry in the corners of their ancient houses, listen to their conversations, and consider every word of every verse until you can say, “I ‘totally’ get the book of Ruth. And I see what God is trying to teach me through this rags-to-riches redemption story–he has a plan for my life.” Girl, does he ever. Think of it as time travel without gimmicks, gizmos, or a DeLorean; a novel approach to Bible study that leas from past to present, gleaning timeless truths that speak to he heart.

Teens Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus

A Mother Dispels the Myth of the Lazy, Selfish, and Arrogant Teenager

By Teressa Voltz (Woodforest Church, Houston)

Hurricane Harvey came barreling through the Houston and surrounding areas with its mighty force and then just stopped and decided to hang around….for several days! The amount of water dumped in that area was unbelievable. The amount of people that were affected by that water was unbelievable. My family was one of the fortunate and oh so blessed families that did not get any water in our home. Because of this good fortune, we felt God leading us to get out and help others that were affected by the water. So out we went. What I found was life-changing.Continue reading “Teens Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus”