How Can We Prepare to Help in Texas?
If you have been watching the news as it unfolds in Texas right now, you have probably seen that untold numbers of people are being driven from their homes, especially in the Houston area.
One of my best friends is Jason Wegener. The church where he is the Associate Pastor is Christ Church (PCA) in Katy, TX (a suburb of Houston). He and his family moved to Katy even while the flood waters were rising. Last night the flood waters rose to within a foot of their front door. By God’s grace those waters receded overnight by two feet. Many of you also have friends or family in the Texas area who have been impacted as well.
We don’t know the full reality of the devastation or the damage. In fact, the roadways are still flooded and impassible in most of the Houston area. It may be some time before we really know what the needs are. FEMA is already talking about the work they will be doing in the Houston area in terms of years, and not months.
What can we do, as a church? I’m already getting phone calls and messages from people asking what we, as a church will be doing to help the suffering. We don’t have a plan of action yet. With the roads impassible in Houston the wisest thing we can do is wait for the waters to recede. In the meantime we can begin to prepare ourselves for what is to come. Let me offer a few things:
1) Pray. As the floodwaters approached the Wegener family front door, our family was in prayer. And we know that many others were in prayer for their family as well. The Lord graciously answered those prayers overnight as the waters receded somewhat. Imagine what the Lord would do for those affected if we would express their needs before the throne of grace. James tells us “You do not have because you do not ask.” This doesn’t mean that God owes us anything, or that he is duty-bound to always do what we ask. But it does mean that God often does for his own good pleasure help his people when we pray.
2) Prepare to give. Even now begin to consider what you can give to those who are in shelters. Imagine what you would need if you had fled from your home in a boat and could only take what you could carry. Imagine the daily needs that a family with little kids would have. Imagine the need for bedding - for blankets - for towels. For toiletry items. Imagine how thirsty you would be. Consider the need for water. Consider the need for dry foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. In the coming days and weeks we will almost certainly have opportunities to send these very supplies to help our sister churches to serve the hurt and needy among them. Start to prepare yourself to give. Start to think generously. Think about your monthly budget and make room in it so that September will be a month of generosity. If you sense resistance in your own heart to being generous, pray to God, asking him in the meantime to open your heart to show mercy above what you might normally consider.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians talks about the generosity that Christians showed to each other and he talks about generosity as an act of submission. “They will glorify God because of your submission that comes from…the generosity of your contribution for them” (2 Cor. 9:13).
Don’t just give a pittance. Don’t just dig in your pantry for outdated stuff you aren’t using. Don’t just give a little something to say you gave… really ask yourself what you can do that will sting just enough that you’ll know you gave rightly.
Prepare to give. As the churches around Houston start to get their feet under them and understand what their needs are, we have to be prepared to answer that need with a resounding “yes!” in Christ.
3) Prepare to serve. These people have had their lives upended. They are more than inconvenienced - many of them have lost all that they have. Prepare to be inconvenienced. Prepare to pay, not only in money, but also in time. Ask God to help you. If you are unprepared to give up a week, or a weekend, or a couple of days to serve and help others, ask God to change your heart so that if you are called upon, you will be able to answer.
We as a church have nothing specific to announce at this time. We hope to have a plan in the coming days. In the meantime, we know from the Scripture that a heart of generosity is something that belongs to Christians. Let’s ask God to develop that in us even right now.
Lord, prepare us to give and to love so that “they will glorify God because of our submission.”
Pearl Presbyterian Church