Cities in Southeast Texas would take years to recover from the effects of hurricane “Harvey”. This storm brought more than a thousand millimeters of rainfall, which caused catastrophic flooding in the state. Within a few days and killed dozens of people and damaged more than a hundred thousand houses. However, as always, we hear about how neighbors help each other, and the Church community to actively serve the victims.
The rain continues, and with it the rescue operation. People use everything they can, from trucks to boats, trying to take local people from stuck vehicles and ensuring their safety.
According to people who necessarily become rescuers, they do what God has called them to, namely to leave their safe house in the city of Victoria, Texas, and arrive in the Houston suburb of Richmond, to save people’s lives.
“Someone has to take the first step and say: we take the initiative,” explains Reid Goodman, one of the workers of God.
Reid Goodman has just moved from North Dakota. He was looking for work the last five weeks and could not understand why finds nothing. Now it’s clear that it was all part of God’s plan — a plan under which his father and brother was to arrive in Houston with his boat and rescue people from floods.
“Many of these events are consistent with each other, even if we don’t understand their reasons. It is all exactly as could only have been God,” he says.
Brother reed, Robbin says he felt God calling him to serve: “I called my father and asked, “Where are you all?” He said, “We’re not out of Victoria”. And I said, “Well, in an hour I’ll be with you”. From there I took them by boat.”
Men thought that to sleep they will have in their cars. But responsive Texans have opened up their homes, providing food and shelter.
“Of course, we knew that after the evacuation there will be an enormous flow of people who will need temporary housing. Therefore, to open the doors of their homes — it’s the least we could do to help them”, says buzzy Wendland, the owner of the house that sheltered strangers.
At the Convention center the George R. brown in Houston, temporary shelter was found about 9 thousand people. The Red Cross said that no one will be rejected. These people, many of whom have only the clothes they had lost all their possessions, and some even don’t know where are their relatives.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. I feel like a bum. I have nowhere to go. But my faith will not be shaken,” says the clergyman Larry Daniel. He only recently moved to the area with his wife Rhonda. On Sunday, when the flood came, she hurried to the nearest hospital where he brought her friend. While wife was out, Daniel was forced to leave their mobile home. Now he has no idea where she is. According to him, one friend tried in vain to reach her.
“Since then I haven’t heard from him. She took my cell phone. And in our time, when all mobile telephone numbers, numbers no one remembers,” continues Larry Daniel.
Larry himself admits that his spirit broken, but he will continue to keep the faith: “She always appears at the right time. God definitely will take care of me”.
“It all happened so fast. In just a few hours, the water level in the house rose about a meter. I grabbed everything I could, and left the house,” says Shaun Palmer, the owner of the flooded home.
He says he’s grateful to the man who passed his flooded home by kayak and saved his life.
“He saved me! And brought him down just a desire to help people. If the Holy Spirit touched his heart, then I don’t even know what happened to me would happen,” continues Sean.
Time after time we hear stories about how God encourages ordinary people to act and save lives. Others also wanted to help, but the flood waters did not allow them to do so. That’s what the situation was around the Church “Lakewood” in Houston.
“Everything around us was flooded: all roads, all driveways. Was dangerous in any way to try to bring in volunteers or other people. They would simply are unable to get to Church,” says Paul Austin, the pastor of “Lakewood”.
However, some media outlets criticized the “Lakewood” pastor Joel Austin because they took those who were forced to leave their homes because of the hurricane “Harvey”.
“We told the city authorities that now that the Convention center George brown crowded, we are ready to do everything possible to help. And you know what? We are ready to do it not only at the current stage. We are ready to help rebuild the city, to remove debris and rebuild homes. So we are committed to long-term performance. But at the time we were actually under siege. People don’t understand that we just couldn’t move because it was dangerous,” says Paul Austin.
Currently in the Church, “Lakewood” housed about 300 evacuees. All the necessary affected citizens have brought here. And now, pastor Austin will speak about the current situation.
MHN Pastor, thank you for joining us.
Joel Osteen, senior pastor of the Church, “Lakewood”:
I am very pleased to be with you.
MHN: let’s Talk a little bit about criticism. Let’s be clear.
Our Church is always open. We took evacuees from a very early stage. Some of them wanted to get into a larger shelter, which they were invited, but we in any case refused to accept people. Just the first few days the Church was not available, or rather unsafe. It seems that she is on a high hill, but the adjacent building was flooded before, when the rockets played basketball in 2001. But as soon as we have ascertained the safety of the building, and another shelter was filled, we began to accept people and act for the good of the whole community.
MHN: so you’re on a long job and want to participate in the reconstruction of Houston?
You are absolutely right. After a week or two these people now evacuated, will move to other places, but we have already put together teams that in the next five years will be to work across the city. We’re still helping victims of hurricane Katrina. That is our Ministry. And I often say that this shows the essence of the Church “Lakewood”. So today thousands of volunteers will depart to deliver these collected resources. We will deliver them to different shelters in the city.
For me, a huge blessing to be here. My parents started this Church almost 60 years ago. And we always helped people. You know, at the time such difficulties are manifested in people of the best quality. They try to forget about the contradictions that exist in society, and say, “Go help someone!”
So many people are trapped by a storm that the government of Texas called for volunteers to assist in the recovery of such stranded. One of them is Kenny Vaughan. Previously, he was a champion in water skiing. Kenny lives in beaumont, Texas, and he’s one of the many who took their boat and rushed to help in the flooded area. And now he joins us on the phone.
MHN: Kenny, right now you are somewhere on the river. How many people you’ve saved, and what is their reaction?
There is only one feature on the basis of which you can make at least some idea of their number. And that number — 400. So much we had a silver necklace with Scriptures that we put on his neck was getting into our boat people in Houston. Necklace we’re out for the first two days, and we worked for five days. So those people definitely more than five hundred. How do they react? Their reaction is amazing! They’re very manly. They’re just lost. But we are so grateful. You know, I have always loved my country, I thought I knew her. But last week I truly know my country, and it is such a blessing! I wish the whole world saw, what went through these people and how they coped with everything.
MHN: Kenny, this is a very dangerous job. Even some of the rescuers died doing it. Why are you making it?
Because we love Jesus and we love people. If you have the resources and the opportunity arises, and you realize that you can change the situation, then you act. I think any normal man would have rushed to the rescue in such a situation. But of course, you have to risk. Just yesterday I was within a quarter mile of dangerous rapids, around which was very turbulent waters. We were all scared to death. We knew that the rapids are people, however do not know if our boats to overcome them. But finally one person decided to act. He went to sea, and we all prayed: “if Only swam”. His boat was thrown into the trees, his clothes torn, but still he managed to get there. And as soon as we saw it and went there. And we all passed! Personally, I’ve seen some guys almost killed in their boats. They hit different debris, but miraculously stayed afloat. Their boat was hit about one, then another, but still the boat is not overturned, and these guys reached the goal, took a lot of people and pulled them out. They came here and were not afraid I would drown their cars and their boats. They risked so much. But they love God and they love his neighbor.
We pray for the safety of each other. We pray for people when they pick, and they pray for us before we will be able to swim. That’s great!
MHN: What pushes you and makes you act?
Yes, I had heard about it, but I can say that the action makes me one is love. And love is not a feeling. The decision to do what’s best for others and not for yourself. It is best that you can do for yourself without thinking about yourself.
Love for people is when you are sincerely doing something for others without thinking about yourself. But your motives must be very clean.
Jesus is love. I believe to love in life, we need to begin to accept Jesus. If your life is guided by love, and someone is in trouble, you can’t stay away. You can’t do nothing. And I see it here all the people who surround me. And the biggest enemy of love is fear. Fear always wants us to take care of yourself, not thinking about others. And we can all be trapped in resentment. When we hurt, when we hurt, we fear and then we want to protect ourselves, not paying attention to others. But not so did Christ, not as an example He showed us. This is not what we are called. We still must love. And love for us to win the fear, if we love. And that’s what we see here. That’s why there are all these people. I work with people from all over the country — from Mississippi, Florida, California. People come up to me on the boats and asked: “where are You from?” They came here to help us. And I love them so much! I love their fellowmen.