Carolyn Porterfield and Natalie Price are in Southeast Texas this week with people doing mission work there during Spring Break. Carolyn sends this dispatch from their trip. As soon as we can, we’ll post some photos from their trip as well.
It is spring break and thousands of students are enjoying the cool, clear weather. In Galveston this week I’ve seen two very different kinds of spring break experiences. One is students enjoying the sand and surf on the beach. The other is of students and adults who have chosen to come and help rebuild people’s homes and churches that were devastated by Hurricane Ike last September. I’ve watched fences being built, sheetrock being hung, walls being painted, stories being told by puppets at a park, and all of it done in the love of Christ. Ask them why they do it and you get different answers.
“It’s cool to change lives.” “These people are our neighbors.” “You can come and just do nothing or you can come and make a difference.” One girl talked about losing her own home near Houston and how it felt to loose everything. But then she said, “I remember how people came and helped us and it is good to give back.”
Pastors whose homes and church buildings have been damaged are so appreciative of all the help. Bro. Leonardo Diaz kept praising God for every person who has worked on Primera Iglesia Bautista, Hitchcock and for the money that has been donated. This church didn’t have any insurance and they were committed to not go in debt to repair their building. The repair is almost complete and done debt free. With a big grin on his face Bro. Diaz says, “God built this building” and you it’s the truth.
Bro. Ray Meador at First Baptist Church, Galveston also speaks of the help that so many have given. They still cannot meet in their sanctuary but God is blessing the church as they rebuild and reach out to their community. GraceMart provides clothing, household items, and love to people who are needing help. Right after the storm attendance was small but now they are running around 200 in worship and really need a larger space to meet.
Is it possible that Ike has been a blessing in disguise? Several think so and I’m coming to believe that myself as I witness people working together from all over Texas and around the United States. David from Ft. Worth said, “I’ve gotten to know people from my own church by doing this work that I never really knew and we went to church together all the time. Three days ago I didn’t know the guys I’m working with today and now they are my good friends.”
The last thing that strikes me is that I don’t hear grumbling and complaining. Rather, it is words of gratitude and praise that flow from the hearts and lips of God’s people — those that need help and those who are obedient in their service. I want to learn from these I’ve seen this week. Can’t wait to get over to Beaumont tomorrow to hear those stories and see God at work.