Soccer and the Gospel
Helping After Harvey
By Heath Ferguson
Last August, Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas, specifically the Houston area. A record 60 inches of rainfall fell in a four-day span. The resulting floods forced dams to release water at record amounts. Conroe Dam, two miles east of our church facility began releasing water at 73,000 gallons per second. Areas downstream flooded, and thousands of homes were destroyed and families displaced. Five months later, recovery efforts continue thanks to nearly $96,000 in relief funds that has flowed through our church, allowing us to assist those in need. While life has returned to somewhat of a routine, victims of the flood are still displaced from their homes, with the exception of one family.
Relief efforts began almost immediately after the storm passed. Through mutual friends, John Phillips and his crew from Phoenix, Arizona, delivered 16,000 pounds of supplies. Within minutes after their arrival (after three long days and four blown tires) the trailers had been emptied and supplies distributed to local shelters housing displaced families.
Eastside Free Will Baptist Church sustained serious storm damage. The church replaced damaged carpet throughout the building with ceramic tile due to financial restrictions. However, your financial gifts made it possible for Eastside to carpet their classrooms. We are thankful for Buffaloe Floor Covering, owned by a high school friend, for giving us honest prices (rather than doubling or tripling the amount like so many dishonest service providers did in the wake of the storm). We are also grateful they finished their work in a timely manner.
Four days after the storm, we caught a ride across nearby Spring Creek on a large truck to check on a church member’s home. The ride was necessary because streets were still impassable for regular vehicles. Also riding in the truck were Steve and Cibeles, headed to their home for the first time following the storm. The couple has no family in the United States and no one to help them with recovery. Their family (including two junior age girls) had been living in a hotel, and they were anxious to assess their home and move back in—water and all.
The couple discovered water had risen four feet into their home, and they lost everything. Their couch was resting across the kitchen counter. Mud covered their new floors just installed after years of savings. Our church put the family up in a hotel, provided hot meals, helped them clean and remove sheetrock, and gave them gift cards to help them rebuild. Today, they are the only family we know back in their home. Before they ever knew the location of Woodforest Church, they began calling it “their church.” Today, they attend on a regular basis as they continue to rebuild their home and lives.
Joey and Christy live across the street from church members Jonathan and Ashley McNeese. After the storm, our church sent a work crew into their hard-hit neighborhood. The crew went door-to-door to offer help. Jonathan and our crew found Christy standing alone in her house with no idea where to start. They began removing the items from the home and started a relationship with this dear family. Because Joey works two jobs to make ends meet, he was unable to be at the house much of the time. If it were not for the assistance of the church, this family would not be as close to returning to their home. We’ve helped them with gift cards and food, and they should be back in their home by February.
Space does not allow for a detailed look at every story that came out of Harvey, but there were many. God opened many doors for our church to minister thanks to the financial gifts from around the country. Multiple families benefited from clothing, necessities, cleaning supplies, gift cards to Home Depot and Lowe’s—any other items to help them get back on their feet. Danny and Heather lost everything in their home after it was submerged in eight feet of water. After helping them with furniture, they will return home in the next two weeks. The Carl family also had more than eight feet of water in their home. They recently sold that house and will move into another home. We have helped them with gift cards for groceries and essentials during the transition. The Gillmans lost everything in their rental home, including the family car. They were about to be kicked out of the hotel where they had stayed for weeks. We were able to extend their stay at the hotel until they secured new housing. A schoolteacher who lost everything needed clothing and necessities, and Woodforest Church provided them.
Just before Christmas, Tiffany contacted me. Though she had just found a place to live for her three children and her sister and her four children, they lacked basic necessities. The family had beds but no bedding, and her young daughter asked Tiffany if “Santa would bring her a pillow and blanket.” It wasn’t Santa but God working through you and Woodforest Church who provided for this family.
Thank you! None of these stories would have been possible without the generosity of Free Will Baptists across the country. God used your gifts to impact this community and has given our church an opportunity
to show the love of Christ and share the gospel.
About the Writer: Heath Ferguson and his family are planting Woodforest FWB Church in Magnolia, Texas. To contribute to ongoing recovery efforts, visit www.fwbmastersmen.org.