September 8, 2017
By Jeff Huett
DECATUR, Ga. — From the rural communities along the Texas Gulf Coast to the fourth largest city in the U.S., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s partnerships in the Lone Star State are already starting to bear fruit as volunteers get to work making a difference in the lives of Hurricane Harvey victims.
The rural Texas community of Rockport has been a center of activity for CBF Disaster Response efforts in the state.
A trip last weekend by Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, and Jorge Zapata, coordinator of missions and Hispanic ministries for CBF Texas, as well as students from Baptist University of the Americas helped spark a partnership with Coastal Oak Baptist Church in Rockport. This Hispanic congregation will help host volunteer groups in the community. In the past, members of this CBF partner congregation have volunteered at a Together for Hope site along the U.S.-Mexico border in Donna, Texas.
The Rockport community sustained devastating wind damage throughout and, as Zapata says, it looks like a war zone.
“Much of the attention is being focused on the Houston area, and there is great need there,” Zapata said. “The thing to know about these rural communities is that these people do not have anything to come back to. The foundation is the only thing left of many of the houses here.”
Zapata told the story of First Baptist Church in Rufigio, which held a worship service in the parking lot of its demolished church building.
“The church is strong even without its building,” he said.
South Main Baptist Church is serving as CBF’s base of operations in Houston. Earlier this week a group of nearly a dozen Houston-area pastors, many of them CBF partner congregations, met at South Main to discuss strategy to begin accepting volunteer groups. Many of the congregations had already started volunteering in the own communities in the days after the storm.
Churches represented included Sugar Land Baptist, Sugar Land; Primera Iglesia Bautista, Houston; South Main Baptist, Pasadena; Willow Meadows Baptist, Houston; First Baptist, Richmond; Baptist Temple, Houston; The Forum Christian Church in Pinemont and First Baptist, Corpus Christi.
CBF field personnel Butch Green, who serves refugees and human trafficking victims in Houston with his wife, Nell, said that long-term efforts in Houston will center on a community in South Houston served by a Hispanic congregation called Templo Bautista De South Houston. The church itself was flooded, as were most homes in the community.
“Templo Bautista’s pastor David Deulofeo has a heart for the community and for this church as an outreach to the people who live here,” Butch Green said. “Both Nell and I think this partnership will be great for the congregation and the community, as well as for Cooperative Baptists and CBF congregations.”
Returning the favor
The first volunteer group to contribute to CBF’s efforts on the ground in Houston started work this week, as members of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., travelled to Texas. They brought with them tools and supplies left over from last year when their community was on the other side of the volunteer efforts.
A historic flood in August 2016 in Baton Rouge left many people and churches in need of assistance as the waters receded. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was there and with Broadmoor and other partners helped make a difference for victims of the flood. In the midst of that, Broadmoor and CBF formed a partnership with an African-American congregation in the city, Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church.
CBF has received many requests from individuals and congregations seeking information about forming volunteer teams to help out in the region. View the volunteer opportunities and request information here.
A volunteer coordinator will assist disaster response teams wanting to work along the Texas Gulf Coast. In the short-term, these groups will be muck-out teams, removing mud and debris from flooded homes. In the future, these teams will help rebuilding efforts.
As CBF helps get people and communities back on their feet over the long-term, financial resources will be necessary. Please consider a gift to the CBF Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.
Donations in support of CBF’s hurricane disaster response efforts may be made online here or by mailing a check payable to “CBF” with Hurricane Relief in the memo line to:
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
P.O. Box 102972
Atlanta, GA 30368-2972
CBF sets Harvey-recovery trip September 10-16; volunteers needed
CBF establishes Houston headquarters for long-term Harvey relief efforts
5 Things You and Your Church Can Do
CBF Harvey Response website
Donate to CBF Disaster Response efforts
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry
efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.