Pastors of Regular Baptist churches are contacting the GARBC Ministry Resource Center, asking what they can do to help families affected by the flooding in Houston. Churches in Iowa, Colorado, and Ohio are considering ways to help flood victims with money and supplies. In response, Regular Baptist Ministries has established a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund for donations designed to meet the needs of Regular Baptist churches and their members affected by the flooding in the Houston area.
All this week Union Grove (Wisconsin) Baptist Church has been collecting donations that they plan to deliver this weekend to victims of the Houston disaster. In a project called Help For Houston, the church has been receiving water, baby formula, blankets, diapers, and “anything that would be useful for the people of Houston,” the church’s Facebook page said.
On Wednesday Pastor Albert and Patricia Armitage, along with a group of people from Berean Baptist in Humble, Texas, spent the day helping church members Gene and Rindy Howard remove items from their flooded home. “There’s nothing left that we can do for them until the insurance inspectors come through,” Pastor Armitage says. Church friends moved the Howards’ possessions outside and divided it into piles of debris, trash, or other stuff to be hauled away. The crew swept, mopped, set up fans, and rung out 27 loads of soaking wet clothes. The helpers drove the clothes to a Laundromat, did all their laundry, folded it, and took it over to the church. The education wing of the church will be the Howards’ new home for the next three to six months while their house is being repaired.
Connecting with another flooded-out church family was more difficult. Since so many streets are still under water, the Armitages felt fortunate to find a way into Bill and Reba Watson’s neighborhood. Patricia says, “God blessed us. The Watsons were loading their car to leave for the day just as we arrived. They were thrilled to see us. There were hugs and tears.”
With Bill Watson in a wheelchair, the retired couple had difficulty just getting inside their house. “They couldn’t open the front door because the china cabinet had floated across the room and was blocking the door,” Patricia says. Despite the mess, there was an upside. “The big praise was that the water was only seven feet deep and did not go into the second floor,” she says, noting that the Watsons had moved many valuables upstairs before they evacuated. The couple have three adult sons who have been busy tearing out carpet and discarding ruined furniture.
Three doors down across the street, the Armitages visited Berean Baptist newcomers James and Sandra Wolbrueck, who live in a one-story home that had floodwater up to the eaves. “They are simply overwhelmed,” Patricia says, noting the couple did not have flood insurance and their homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it. “I told James we will be here for you and we will be praying for you.”
On Thursday, the GARBC Resource Center reached Julie Hawk, wife of Gerald Hawk, a Baptist Mid-Missions church planter and pastor of Good News Baptist Church in west suburban Katy, Texas. The Hawks’ home sustained no damage, but the floodwaters came right up to the front door, says Julie, who frequently looked outside during the storm to check on the rising water. “I quit opening the front door,” she says, fearing it might rush inside.
As Gerald waded through floodwater to check on the church located several blocks from his house, he saw two men swimming in a flooded ditch. On his way back home, he stopped to talk to several people who were standing around a flooded ditch where a man who had been swimming got sucked into a drain and drowned. “They never found him,” Julie said, “but my husband was able to minister to the people there.” One of the people told Pastor Hawk that he wants to visit his church. Julie says their church building sustained only minor leaking in the nursery ceiling. Although their church plant is small, the Hawks are praying about how its members can minister to their community. Julie thought the church could possibly coordinate work crews who come to the area.
On Thursday, Pastor Armitage returned to Berean Baptist Church with church members and repaired the minor damage to the building caused by the leaking of rainwater. “We got the roof repaired on the church building and half the roof repaired on the education building. Tomorrow we will finish the other half,” he says. Patricia Armitage sees optimism and God’s hand despite the devastation. “It’s still a pretty difficult situation,” she says, noting that the air reeks of must and mold, the streets are filled with people hauling out carpet, and the curbs are piled high with trash. “Even though these people are devastated, they are working together. One man was blaring Christian music on the street. I know they are still loved and He is still helping. God is present and He is making a way,” she says.
These church members and people Berean Baptist is ministering to in its community need assistance. If your church would like to help and encourage sister churches, please visit Hurricane Harvey Relief.