By Marv Knox
Five congregations ravaged by Hurricane Harvey are taking new steps toward wholeness, thanks to the compassion and generosity of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship members.
CBF representatives recently delivered checks totaling $165,000 to help the churches continue their rebuilding efforts in Harvey’s wake.
The congregations—First Baptist Church of Holiday Beach in Rockport, Iglesia Casa de Dios Centro De Avivamiento in Corpus Christi, Primera Asamblea de Dios in Corpus Christi, Primera Iglesia Bautista in Sinton and Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Corpus Christ—suffered severe wind damage when Harvey struck the Texas Coastal Bend Aug. 25-26, 2017.
Harvey inflicted two forms of destruction along its path. After punishing the Coastal Bend with high winds, it hovered over Houston and Southeast Texas, dropping record floods.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, CBF Texas, Fellowship Southwest and their affiliated congregations responded quickly and remained for months to provide support.
Churches immediately began helping members and neighbors remove flood-soaked carpet, sheetrock and furniture from homes. Many members who lived on dry land sheltered others from flooded neighborhoods. The churches also banded together and worked with CBF disaster response leaders and emergency organizers to provide other quick and long-term responses to the disaster.
CBF reassigned Houston-based missionary Butch Green to coordinate long-term recovery efforts in the Houston area. For many months, Green set aside much of his ongoing ministry to connect congregations, families and other flood victims with churches and various ministry groups that traveled to the region to help them. Likewise, Diann Berry, a CBF missionary in the Rio Grande Valley, provided assistance in the Coastal Bend in the immediate days following the storm.
An anonymous donor from the Coastal Bend—concerned the needs of the region would be overlooked—provided funds to help CBF support churches whose facilities suffered extreme wind damage along the coast south and west of Houston.
These funds enabled CBF to hire Matt Sciba, a former CBF missionary and an insurance appraiser, to contact pastors and begin assessing needs. It also allowed CBF to underwrite the Baptist General Convention of Texas church architecture department’s expert analysis of storm damage to church facilities.
Meanwhile Brian Hill, pastor of First Baptist Church in Corpus Christi; Jesse Rincones of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas; and Jorge Zapata, associate coordinator of CBF Texas, spent untold hours with pastors throughout the Coastal Bend. In addition to helping CBF assess damage and prioritize need, they counseled with, prayed for and made tangible Jesus’ love to and for the pastors, almost all of whom experienced damage to their own homes, as well as their church buildings and the homes and businesses of their church members.
After the needs of the Coastal Bend congregations became clear, the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation allocated $158,000, primarily provided by the anonymous donor, to churches harmed by Harvey. In the past few weeks, CBF has distributed the final five grants of the project, $165,000, provided by additional funds from supporters who learned about needs through the CBF Blog and the Fellowship Southwest newsletter.
Fellowship Southwest is a multicultural network of faith communities that improves lives and shares the love of God with people often discounted and overlooked.