Voices: Following Harvey, the church must pray, give and go

Hurricane Harvey impact on First Baptist Church in Port Aransas, Texas.

Photos via First Baptist Church, Port Aransas' Facebook page

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During my first three years of ministry, I served as youth minister at First Baptist Church in Port Aransas. Port Aransas is an amazing place filled with special people.

As I think back on my time there, I am so thankful for many who took me in like family. I am thankful for many who helped with my ministry, and I am especially thankful for my pastor, William Campbell, who showed me how to love a community well.

Hurricane Harvey has left destruction in its wake on the small town of Port Aransas. At the time I am writing this, homes are still uninhabitable. The people of Port A have to commute from surrounding areas to clean up during the day and be off the island by dark. There is no power yet.

Their water is close to being turned back on, and many are trying their best to do the initial work of assessing and cleaning what they can. Some homes are destroyed, and all have been affected in some way or another. A Google search of the town will show the destruction the storm left behind.

One thing I am sure of is that the people of Port Aransas will rebuild. They are strong, compassionate and united. They also need our help.

Houston has received a ton of national attention and rightly so. They need all the help they can get, but let us not forget the small towns along the coast that so many of us have visited and enjoyed. Let us not forget the smaller churches doing all they can to not only rebuild but also be the hands and feet of Jesus to their communities.

We as the body of Christ, and especially as Texas Baptists, must respond to our brothers and sisters in need. We must pray. We must give. We must go.

Pray

We all can pray, and we should not discount the importance and power of this action. Port Aransas needs your prayers. My prayer for them this week has been Psalm 29:11: “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”

Let’s pray for those affected by this storm. Let’s pray for them to know the power and presence of God in the midst of unspeakable grief and loss. This is our first and greatest response on behalf of those who have lost so much.

Give

This is a time for the church to live out our compassion by being generous with the gifts God has given to us. We have been blessed in order to bless those in need.

Give your money to help churches, families and communities rebuild. Give your money to organizations you know and trust. Give to Texas Baptist Men. Find a church affected in these areas and give to them. Contact First Baptist Church Port Aransas and know they will use every dollar they receive the help their community.

So many have already been so generous, but this is going to take a long relief effort. We must continue to be generous for years to come to help this area of our great state.

Go

These areas are going to need volunteers to help them clean up and rebuild. If you are able, head down there and help. Use your own hands to clean up and rebuild. They are going to need us. If you can’t go yourself, do what you can to make sure others are able to volunteer their time.

This is our time

We talk a lot about what it means to be the church, how we can be salt and light and what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Well, the time for talking is over.

This is an opportunity for us as the church to live out the mission statements we write for our websites. This is a chance for us to truly be the physical hands and feet of Jesus to those who really need us at this moment.

We must pray, give and go in response to Hurricane Harvey.

We must be the church.

Zac Harrel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas.

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