This was my first trip, and by this time much of the clean up from Harvey was already underway, and rebuilding was taking place. Still, as we drove through some neighborhoods, we could see piles of broken sheet rock, carpets, appliances, cabinets, and clothing near the end of driveways. At first glance, it simply represented garbage and waste that needed to be hauled away. Though, for those impacted, it represented memories, stories, security, comfort and safety.
We visited a pastor, Jorge Cardenas. Both his home and his church in Katy were flooded. During our time and interview with Jorge, he mentioned that he “forgot to renew their flood insurance. He just got busy and forgot.” He also mentioned that he’d never forget the image of his wife, Olivia, crying while being rescued in a canoe.
After hearing Jorge’s story, we decided to give he and his wife money to purchase some new appliances and new pots/pans for his wife. I was able to hand him the money and express to him that ultimately this is a gift from the Father, and He has moved the hearts of people and churches to make this gift possible. We simply have the honor of delivering the gift. It was a special moment, and he was deeply grateful for the gift.
In general, many pastors are in need of the basic essentials. For some, it’s clothing. For others, it’s new appliances. For still others, it’s a paycheck as their churches have been dispersed, and they’re not meeting for services due to their facilities being flooded. For all, it’s permission to take a break and simply rest and renew. Perhaps more than anything else, these pastors need to know someone cares about them specifically and is willing to journey with them with relationally, spiritually and emotionally with no strings attached.
Clearly, pastors had questions related to why we were/are there. This was true during our one-on-one meetings/interviews, as well as during the dinners that we hosted. Though, once they were able to experience a level of care, concern and love that they perhaps have not received in a long time, the questions and skepticism began to dissolve. They began to relax, be real, vulnerable, weep and receive the love and care the Father wanted to give them through us.