The Apostle John wrote that if the works of Jesus were all recorded they would fill up every book ever written.
In a smaller way, the efforts of believers to help after Tropical Storm Harvey would more than fill many editions of this paper.
So the following are just two vignettes from the recent relief experience. One shows how even the stricken may seek to serve and another how good works can be repaid unexpectedly.
Janet Young of Newport News, Va., stood in the parking lot of Friendswood’s Calvary Church on FM 528. Behind her flashed a message on the congregation’s bright digital sign, “Hot Meals.” In front of her, a tent housed flood victims and first responders enjoying chef-created cuisine: pork chops, stuffing, sweet potatoes and spiced apples. They were some of the 10,000 who drove through last Saturday or sat down for prayer and a meal with the traveling Mercy Chefs crew for which Young is a spokeswoman.
“We’re a faith-based organization and what you see is what we do,” Young said over the roar of a busy commercial kitchen housed in a customized semi-trailer. “We believe in Jesus and so we feed people body and soul. Our mission is to help EMS, police, firefighters who may go days without a hot meal during a disaster.”
Young’s crew are not the only ones making a sacrifice. She shared the story of a flood survivor who refused to surrender her identity to her loss.
“A woman in her mid-fifties who lived by herself came to us right after Harvey,” Young recalled. “She had endured the storm completely by herself, she was absolutely broken when she came to us. She lost her house and everything else. She cried and told us that her choices were to dwell on her lost home or she could become a part of our work.”
The lady in question has only her car remaining to her. Every time the Mercy Chefs distribute lunch or dinner this woman drives through and picks up 200 meals to deliver to her neighbors in need.
“In a way, this is everybody’s story,” Young said of such faithful resilience.
A few clicks over on FM 528, the idea of sowing and reaping, common in the Bible, is being played out as hundreds of pounds of chicken, sausage and bottled water are readied for the wave of needy workers and survivors who will drive through for some Louisiana home cooking courtesy of Amite Baptist Church out of Denham Springs, La.
Her leader, the Rev. Michael Luce, explained why his 30-member aid and cooking team has set up in the parking lot of League City’s Bay Area Church.
“About a year ago we were flooded and there were some people who came and helped us,” he said. “Because of their love for Jesus, they gutted our homes, fixed our church and provided financially for us. So now we’re feeding, doing mud-outs — we have teenagers to seniors all here to share jambalaya and other Louisiana cooking.”
These two groups may have relocated to serve other needs or returned home by the time you read this, but they are simple examples of the overwhelming number of ministries from a spectrum of faith traditions that have moved into South Texas to share their faith and food while tearing out Sheetrock, insulation and providing other services in inspiring ways.
Next week in Our Faith: Religious leaders weigh in on the compatibility of God and devastating storms. Also, please share your stories with us.