07 Sep Christa’s Corner… Pray for Houston
Knowing that I lived in Houston the six years prior to coming to Myrtle Beach, many of you have expressed concern about my friends and former congregants in Houston and have asked stories on how things are on the ground. While the news often shows the more sensational side of these stories, from my friends on the ground, those stories in the news are not far off the reality of the situation. I just got off the phone with one pastor friend who said that half of her congregation has lost everything in their homes. There are other churches in the Presbytery of New Covenant (Greater Houston) who have lost everything but the stained glass windows in their church and whose church members and pastors have lost everything. I have friends who no longer have the sheetrock and flooring of their houses since they had to remove quickly and clean quickly before mold could set in. There are others who managed to escape flooding. Those who have been fortunate to have their homes dry are helping those whose homes were flooded. Command centers have been set up in churches and other buildings where Texans are helping Texans with immediate needs. It has been heartening to hear of friends dropping everything to help other friends, and moving to hear of the worship service that the flooded out church that First Presbyterian Dickinson held on their lawn this past Sunday. The pastors and congregants who had lost everything came together to grieve and express anxiety over the future, but also to celebrate and worship the God whom they love and adore.
So many people want to rush to help, but often because of people’s want to send “things,” it leads to what many in emergency management consider the ‘second disaster.’ Many items that people think should be sent end up in landfills along with the flood debris because it wasn’t needed or couldn’t be managed. The good thing, is that those things that are really needed in the Houston area can be found in Texas and bought locally by Texans, and this is the most economical and efficient way to meet those needs. What Texans ask of us, and what is best to do in emergency situations is to pray and send money. We encourage you to send to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (see more information on page 9) or to another reputable organization of your choice. With the money that it would take to buy and ship goods, that same amount of money can be used locally to buy much more and much more of what is actually needed. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is known for being the first on the ground and the last to leave of all relief organizations. When Hurricane Ike struck the area in September 2008, they didn’t leave Texas until 2015 or so. I can guarantee that they will be there for at least a decade, and they are already on the ground evaluating the situation and working with the local Presbyteries and communities to find how they might best help.
There will eventually come a time when labor to rebuild homes and churches is needed, but that time is not now. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance gladly receives teams and individuals who coordinate with them on recovery efforts, and we will take our cue from them about when the time is right to suggest that those who would like to do physical labor there would be welcome and helpful to come.
In other news, I leave next week for my introductory course for my Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality. I will be at Columbia Theological Seminary from September 16 – 30, and will have limited time to respond to emails and phone calls during that time. I would covet your prayers for my time at the seminary, and look forward to being back in worship on October 1 for World Communion Sunday.