Give Food for Those Displaced
Due to Hurricane Harvey
I was born and grew up in Houston. I graduated from high school there in 1971. That area is super flat. So it will be a LONG time before ALL the flood waters in the region are gone.
I moved to Dallas in 1985. And this area is super flat too. Just imagine that much rain falling here with the ground saturated and nowhere for the flood waters to quickly go.
I saw a picture of the roof of a home that was just above the flood waters in Houston. That had been the residence of a friend of a friend.
What I know is that it will be MONTHS before that house and all the other houses on that block are habitable again. Not only must the water leave but all the contents of the house must be removed. The furniture, carpet, clothes, toys, and drywall that was touched by the flood waters will be ruined and start to grow mold right after the flood waters leave. All that material must be removed and hauled off. Then the new can replace all that.
I heard that there are thousands of people that remained and could not get out due to flooded roads. Plus there were more than 500 thousand cars that were flooded. So the full extent of the troubles will not be understood soon.
I heard that there is a dam that might break. So they will need to release the built up waters. But that could flood houses that had not been flooded yet.
There will be extensive structural damage to homes, businesses, and schools due to the winds and waters.
There will be thousands of insurance claims that will take time.
Where are enough skilled workers and construction materials to rebuild all that was damaged?
Surely there are many from the Gulf Coast that are in the Dallas area. So there will be a need for food distribution for a very long time.
Some Dallas area schools districts say they started admitting those who fled from Houston. So you know there will not be a quick fix.
Therefore in the light of this regional mess, I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ, during the coming months to prayerfully consider that it would be a wonderful expression of the love from God to donate food to the North Texas Food Bank https://www.ntfb.org/ They, in turn, get food to hundreds of distribution points including to local churches. If you contact them then they can inform you of a distribution place like a local church that is near you.
This morning, Wednesday, August 30, I went with a friend to Tabernacle Family church in Ennis http://tabernaclefamily.org/ The members had made many donations of food that were put into more than 50 bags and taken to area motels. The staff at the motels said that people are often checking in and out often from the flooded areas. We talked with some of the evacuees from Galveston, Houston, and Humble. They requested prayers. There was great uncertainty and anxiety.
Those that I talked with had already registered with FEMA. That agency will serve as a safety net for most of them. But the motel manager said that the immediate need is for groceries. Like most Americans, they do not have lots of money to stay in motels and take every meal at a fast food place.
Let me share with you from my many experiences of receiving food from various food banks over the years. There is always plenty of canned vegetables, dried beans, and pasta. There is rarely canned fruit. Notice that apple sauce both stores well and can be consumed without cooking.
Very few food banks offered frozen meat. So canned tuna, chili, spaghettios, and stew are very welcomed.
Peanut butter and jelly are not just comfort foods, but they good for kids too. The Tabernacle Family church made it a priority to provide each bag of groceries with a jar of peanut butter and grape jelly. That was smart.
Here are other items that you might consider donating: granola bars, breakfast bars, bottled water, saltine crackers, pudding cups, raisin packets, small packets of cookies and peanut butter and cheese crackers. Also, there are specialty items like infant formula, baby food, and dog food.
Imagine the super stressed moms that are juggling the 100 balls in the air that comes with typical motherhood. Plus to complicate matters there is the grief of catastrophic loss and uncertainty as to when normal will ever return. What kinds of healthy snacks could you be used by God to put into the hands of those moms to pass on to their confused children? Pray hard. And let God guide you to find suitable snacks. Then give generously in the name of Jesus.
During the early stages do not assume that there is easy access to cooking or refrigeration. That will come as the FEMA apartments and trailers get in place.
Mac and cheese in a box was fairly common at food banks. But let me say this. I would rather have had 1 box of mac and cheese that was high quality than 2 boxes of the cheapest ones on the shelf. Sometimes generic brands are OK. And many times they are just yucky.
Consider what the Bible says about as you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me. (Matthew 25) So if Jesus came to your home for dinner would you give Him the cheapest stuff in the store?
This is a long term time horizon before most people can return to their flooded houses. Do not expect that the government or the churches will take care of ALL the needs in the meantime.
Prayerfully consider that just MAYBE Jesus is asking for your 5 loaves and 2 fish so that He can multiply them. The window of opportunity to be used of God is both immediately and gradually in the coming months.
I exhort you to present yourself and your family before the Lord in private prayer and in family prayers to be used of Him in this emergency as well as ANY time in the future.
It may be wise to find a Red Cross office near you to learn what they need besides foods http://www.redcross.org/local/texas/north-texas/locations/dallas-fo...
Some things needed after other hurricanes and floods include disposable diapers, toiletries, socks, feminine hygiene, underwear, laundry detergent, and search online for other.
During the coming weeks, there will be teams of volunteers that will go to the impacted areas. They will need tools and supplies to do their job well. There will be lots of lists and distribution locations online.
Note that after Hurricane Katrina there was much giving to help those in need. But it was later found that during that same time the giving that had gone to churches and other ministries greatly decreased. So much of the charity was shifted giving. Yet the costs of operations at the churches and Christian ministries did not suddenly decrease. The payroll did not magically get covered. Please do not cause hardships for those you have been supporting, by taking from them for this special situation. Instead prayerfully find alternatives and maybe even sacrifice some comforts and conveniences.
What I am advocating here is an alternative to fund this current need. As a family, you could do some spring cleaning to sell things in the closets, drawers, garage, attic and storage units. Sell those in a garage sale for that purpose and tell your neighbors to join in a joint garage sale or sell on Craigslist https://www.craigslist.org/about/sites or FedEx valet service that will sell them on eBay for you http://www.fedex.com/us/office/ebay-drop-off.html Just convert the unused things into food for those who have been displaced.
Turning things you do not need, want or use into foods for those in real need seems like a wise move from a stewardship perspective.
Maybe you are one of those rare Americans that has a savings account that is designated for emergencies. I suggest that it would honor God if you took 10 percent of that fund and prayerfully used it to help those who evacuated.
Remember God is watching all you do and do not do every day. There is a record of your deeds. God knows your intentions. There are eternal rewards for those who do good deeds in the name of Jesus.
Some but not all those that were displaced are born again. So logically there are some of those who fled that are your spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. They are your spiritual and eternal family. They are part of the greater body of Christ. They are hurting. Does the love of God want to flow through you to serve them?
The FACT is that biblical theology is a reality every day just like math and gravity. So let your understanding of biblical theology inform your faith and actions in this situation as well as ALL other situations.
You might donate them money to a food bank, or Red Cross or Salvation Army. But if I was the dad then I would get a Wish List from a food bank. I would buy case lots at Costco or Sam’s or Walmart. I would anoint them with olive oil and pray over them fervently with my family. Then I would take them there to SHOW the kids the love of God in action. I would make that an object lesson of how WE are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth.
Today it warmed my heart to see a mother and her young daughters helping to fill the bags and deliver them to the motels.
I am NOT suggesting that any local church make this their ongoing big project or take a chunk out of their budget. It has been my conviction for many years that benevolence needs to have a personal and family expression as a common part of following Jesus daily.
When I moved into my apartment in Ennis a few months ago. I had been in the Dallas Life Foundation https://www.dallaslife.org/ homeless shelter for 3 years. All I had was a backpack and a duffle bag. My church family was used of God to provide a bed, table, dresser, linens and initial groceries. When you have nearly zero, then every little bit seems huge.
Also if God puts you into a relationship with a displaced family, let me tell you based on my experience, that a Walmart gift card can be used to God to meet all kinds of tiny needs that would be on a detailed Wish List.
When the people of God had come together during my transition I testified that all those gifts were like the love of God made manifest as molecules.
When I was a kid people quoted the Golden Rule often. It is still valid today. We tell the children those few words ... Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you. SO if you had been displaced, then how would you like to be blessed?
Will you be used as an instrument of the grace and mercy of God in this time of need for our neighbors visiting from the Houston area? Maybe you do not have the funds or mobility to serve in this way. You can share this message with others. You can pray for God to use this and similar messages to help those in crisis.
If you or a youth group is going to get involved in personal witnessing during this season then I highly recommend requesting cases of 100 free gospels of John in English and Spanish from Living Water http://www.livingwater.org/
It is not common for people to do personal witnessing. So I highly recommend Pocket Testament League www.ptl.org that has lots of training and resources. The resource of theirs that I have been distributing for years is called Ready Reference https://www.ptl.org/code/products.php?group=Publications It has dozens of Bible verses arranged like a topical Bible study. It could be used of God to not only comfort and encourage believers but also evangelize unbelievers. It is online in English here for you examine and to share with your social media contacts http://ptl.uberflip.com/i/117265-ready-reference/0?m4= Also they offer them as one-page print versions for only 10 cents each in English and Spanish. God has used me to distribute thousands of them over the years. It has amazed me how receptive people have been to this 1 piece of paper.
This could become a golden opportunity for you and your family members to grow spiritually. I recommend that you search online for Youtube videos and blog posts about empathy. Unlike 1 month ago or 1 year from now, this is a special time to feel and express empathy for those like us that have been uprooted. Empathy is not the same as sympathy or even compassion. If you learn and apply what you learn about empathy, then your giving in the future will come from a deeper place in your soul.
If this got shared with you by social media and you are not in the Dallas or Houston area or a location where displaced persons have fled, then please pray earnestly. Also, you can send money online or by check. BUT be warned of possible scams. There are several charity watchdog groups that include Charity Navigator https://www.charitynavigator.org/ and Guidestar http://www.guidestar.org
If there is one group that I would fully trust with donations, then it is Texas Baptist Men http://texasbaptistmen.org/Ministries/Disaster-Relief/DR-News/DR-Ne... After Hurricane Katrina I met some men that had volunteered with them and I was deeply impressed with their heart for God and willingness to express the love of God in such practical actions. They have the disaster equipment, training, and volunteers. They have the shower and laundry units and chain saw crews as well as kitchens on 18 wheelers and chaplains.
A similar group that I learned about today is SBTC Disaster Relief
http://sbtexas.com/evangelism/disaster-relief/hurricane-harvey-dr-i... I am sure they do great work, but I have not had personal contact with them.
Maybe the best way to focus your giving is to give online to a local church in or near the flooded areas where you have personal or family contacts. If you do not have that then here is a church in Ennis that sent their senior pastor and others to the flooded areas to participate in the rescue efforts. They are committed to this for the long term. Surely Tabernacle Family church will keep this web page updated http://tabernaclefamily.org/disaster-relief/
For those who are prayer warriors, your work has only just begun. The safety and health of the residents and workers that are going back into the impacted zones are worthy of your prevailing prayers for months.
The mental, emotional and spiritual healing of those that suffered major loss is a prayer target.
The precious children and pets will have some deep wounds.
Especially pray hard for the law enforcement, utility repair crews, and paramedics.
Let the Lord lead you in praying often for the doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
Those with diabetes require medications and treatments. But with the infrastructure in a mess, only God can meet their dire needs.
This is a grand opportunity to share the gospel message. May prepared and anointed worker be sent into this harvest field.
There is not nearly enough trained trauma and grief counselors in the wake of such a disaster. May God give the Christian leaders wisdom and insights to address these matters both short term and long term.
There will be teams of retired people and youth that will volunteer to help in the huge area. Pray for their safety from injury and illness. May God give them much strength and encouragement. May they make time to rest, pray and fellowship. May they be protected from the trauma of seeing all the destruction. May the love of God be seen, felt and heard by those around them.
Pray for God to guide me in how He will have me serve this Hurricane Harvey outreach both in the short term and in the long term.