Serving those hurt by Katrina

What a blessed / giving / servant-like people you are!

How inspiring it is to see so many of our church family freely giving of themselves in serving evacuees at the local shelters! There’s simply no way I could begin to name all involved, but here are just a few that my mind “caught on film” serving others at the Baytown Community Center – Tim Read (who deserves your special praise), Hattie Surles, Bill Snead, Larry & Wanda Whitley, Tommie & Bettie Herring, Pat Thomas, Bill Ehlig, Ed & Shirley Wachtel, Foy & Maxine Whitley, Freddie Seeley, April, Christopher, Michael & Haley Toppeto, Mack & Bettie Lovering, Berwid & Mildred Whitaker and Kathy Read. I know there are many more of you who have been helping in some way, but I mention these here so that if you’d like to talk to someone who has firsthand knowledge of what’s going on and how you can help, you’ll have an idea of who you can talk to for advice.

What’s the best way you can help Katrina victims?

1. Pray. Jesus directed and promised: “. . . go into your
room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward . . .” (Matt. 6:6) We always do well to ask God strengthen people’s inner spirit (Eph. 3:16-17) as well as to ask for daily bread to be provided for them by God (Matt. 6:11).

2. Give money, not clothes, to disaster relief efforts. In the words of a very experienced disaster relief professional: “Material donations – especially used clothing – tend to pile up and become a ‘second disaster.'” (John Walker, spokesperson for Mennonite Disaster Service) Consequently, most of it gets thrown away, which means all the labor and expense of that donation was in vain, whether speaking of the initial donation of it or the manpower used to process it to the trash. Disaster relief organizations can purchase precisely the items most needed at far cheaper prices than you can. Donating money greatly reduces the waste associated with “well-meaning, but ignorant giving.” When giving directly to an individual in need, a gift card to a major store empowers the person in need to purchase what they need the most at the moment. “You . . . know how to give good gifts . . .” (Matt. 7:11)

3. Volunteer your time and efforts at local relief shelters. People power is always needed. You may be thinking “I don’t know what to do” or “I’m not very strong.” Rest assured, there is something you can do. People with strong backs are certainly needed, but the biggest share of tasks to be done requires no skills or strength to speak of. If you can sort items in a box, you can help. If you can put ice in a cup, you can help. You get the picture. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

4. Share honest care and concern along with words of hope. Many evacuees have lost everything they own – property, jobs, etc. Their future is totally unknown to them. While you can’t replace their past or predict their future, you can help shape their spirit and mind in the present with the love that you share. Our God specializes in taking very small things, like a compassionate smile and a kind word, and making great good grow. “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water . . . that person will certainly be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42) “. . . let . . . what is helpful for building others up according to their needs come out of your mouth so that those who hear will benefit.” (Eph. 4:29)

Where are the current Houston, Texas area shelters?

As of noon today, the following sites are designated Red Cross Shelters in the Houston area:

Senior Center -11607 Eagle Drive / Mont Belvieu
(full – 120 people capacity)

Baytown Community Center – 2407 Market St. / Baytown
(full – 400 of a 500 people capacity)

Memorial Baptist Church – 600 W. Sterling / Baytown

Lee College cannot offer shelter at this time, but shower and bathroom facilities are open for evacuees.

St. Peter Claver – 6005 N. Wayside Drive / Houston

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church – 18220 Upper Bay Rd-Nassau Bay – Houston (capacity 250)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church – 701 Church Street – Huntsville (capacity 200)

Moody Methodist Church – 2803 53rd Street / Galveston

Spring Tabernacle
– 3034 FM 2920 / Spring

The Red Cross information Hotline gives shelter locations: 866-GET-INFO (866-438-4636). For another number for Houston area Red Cross activities: 713-313-5480. The Red Cross has a website dedicated to listing Houston area shelters.