A couple months ago I heard story explained as three simple elements: a character with a passion, encounters a problem, and makes a decision.
Let me tell you a story.
Kingwood is the only hometown I remember. I was born in Craig, CO and have some memories of the mountains and snow, but we moved to Kingwood when I was four. It’s home.
Three and a half weeks ago I watched helplessly as flood waters engulfed the town that holds so many of my memories and people I love. Never in my life did I think I would want to own a flat bottom boat as much as I did that day.
All I could do was sit and listen as national news covered the rescues happening in neighborhoods in which I grew up playing. The park and ride next to the old library became a helipad for Coast Guard choppers. All form and fashion of boats from the Cajun Navy were launched in the street in front of Wendy’s. This wasn’t some far off place. I knew these streets, I saw the video of my high school flooding, I saw the desperate posts of friends calling for evacuations of their families. And all I could do was sit.
In my dad’s congregation, Christ the King, alone there were 62 houses flooded. This is one small section of the destructive swath Hurricane Harvey carved across Texas. From Rockport to Beaumont, Harvey struck with high winds and dropped torrential amounts of rain.
All I wanted to do was help. I gathered supplies, drove from Austin to Cypress to deliver trash bags, took a small team down labor day weekend to muck a house. Still, I felt guilty. There was so much destruction, how could I even make a dent. That was my problem.
There was nothing I could do to make it better. Even after spending a day mucking out a house everything seemed so minuscule, like a drop in a bucket. What possible difference can I make to a city that has been through so much? To a family who has lost everything?
But a line from the aptly titled Hello Hurricane by Switchfoot got stuck in my head: “Hello Hurricane you’re not enough | Hello Hurricane you can’t silence my love.”
The words of Jesus quickly followed behind it, “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
That’s when I made a decision: I would do all the little things I could to love my neighbors in these disaster zones. The recovery from Harvey is not going to be a big thing and done quickly. No, it is going to take time and the work of many little things over a longer period of time.
That is our job as neighbors. Not to solve all the problems of those affected, but to love them as ourselves. To help in the ways we can, to tell a good story.
And the stories coming out of these areas are already so good.
Chuck and Tamra are old friends who have become family. They have been out helping however they can. From mucking houses, to opening their home for those without to do laundry, they are loving their neighbors. Mondays and Fridays they host all the displaced families from Christ the King at their house for dinner to grieve together and build community.
My niece, Violet, saw my grandma agitated at home after my dad picked her up from the temporary shelter she had been evacuated to, by boat. At almost three years old Violet knew what needed to be done: she cuddled up next to her GG (great grandma) and sang her Jesus Loves Me.
During the height of house mucking, the Burnt Offering Cooking Crew at Christ the King did what they do best: cooked. They made sure every team sent out had lunch and all the volunteers and staff coordinating efforts at the church had three square meals a day.
Ross is a DCE who saw that his kids had an extra week off of school because of the hurricane. He organized them and deployed them, in a matter of a day, with leaders to muck houses in the Clear Lake area of Houston.
From church gyms full of supplies to my sister baking for two days straight for first responders, people in affected areas are telling good stories. The Church is doing what she was meant to do: loving her neighbors.
Because no matter the strength of the hurricane, it cannot silence the love of God.
By Pastor Ted Doering