One of the more well-known stories in the New Testament is the parable of the good Samaritan. It tells of a selfless traveler who came alongside to assist a victim who had been battered by bandits. The hero sees to the rescue and recovery of his suffering fellow traveler. Jesus tells the tale in order to broaden a lawyer’s definition of who exactly the neighbor is in God’s command “to love one’s neighbor as yourself.”

Part of the parable’s point might be that the neighbor in need might actually live several thousand miles away and have been previously unknown to you.

Hence, this summer’s arrival of some 60 youth and adults from Episcopal churches, both near and far, to help those affected by either Hurricane Harvey or the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School.

The Rev. Robin Reeves, of Texas City’s St. George’s, Episcopal Church is serving as host for these “Samaritans” who are part of a mission called Episcopal Strong.

“Every space here, including the sanctuary, has been transformed into living space,” Reeves said. “Episcopal Strong represents 60 among a total of 1800 volunteers who will come to Galveston County to share love and hope with our most vulnerable families.

“We see these groups of volunteers as signs of hope. Each group is given a literal sign of hope to give the homeowner and declare hope and full restoration over their home,” Reeves said. “While each group can usually only do a portion of the work — the hope signs are a sign of our commitment to bring them to full restoration. Those being served first are those most vulnerable like with medical issues, the elderly and with any handicapped people in the home.”

For Ben Lewis, 17, of Friendswood, being a neighbor to those in need did not require an airline.

“Throughout this week, God has surprised me,” he said. “People have been through such dire situations and who have gone so long without help still hold out hope. Your readers have the power to keep that aid going after we’re gone.”

Lewis has spent previous summers doing charitable roofing in Savannah, Ga. and construction in Covington, Tenn. This is the first time a disaster has hit so close to his home, and he’s been able to help.

Dozens of other volunteers have just arrived from North Carolina, Florida and other states. The youth begin each day at 7:15 a.m. which considered ultra-early by teen standards, especially since their schedule extends to 11 p.m. on most days.

Whether you’d like to offer help or support or would like to sign up for the volunteers to come to you, Reeves said that it is easy to do either.

At the end of the original good Samaritan story, Jesus asks the lawyer, which of the passersby proved to be a good neighbor. He then adds, “You, go and do likewise.”

The Rev. Reeves has a similar suggestion for those who are Episcopal or otherwise.

“If you have a group with skills or are willing to learn, and are willing to work, we have a place for you,” she said. “And, if you are a home owner needing help with restoration visit GalvestonCountyRecovers.org to secure services.”

Next week in Our Faith: The church and mental health: A scholar’s suggestions for pastors and parishioners.

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