After arriving in Houston we began our travel to visit local pastors, I was struck by how much debris was sitting curbside. At times the debris extended the length of peoples’ yards and would be piled four to five feet high. It hit me that this “debris now turned garbage,” were actually pieces of peoples’ homes, possessions, memories and lives. While they are just “things” and aren’t made to last forever, I couldn’t help but think how I would feel if I was in their shoes. I would be devastated.
We visited Pastors Josue and Yurisant (husband and wife) of a Cuban church and toured their church. The building had escaped damage and had been converted into a distribution center using every inch of space, including the sanctuary for storing supplies. After touring the church Pastor Josue and his wife took us to their home, which had not escaped the flood. Almost all of their furnishings were gone. Their front yard was no exception from the others we passed along the way. Most of the family’s belongings were piled high in a trash pile out front. Sheet rock had been removed from the walls up to four feet high and all the flooring had been removed. Because the house was deemed unlivable, the family had been force to set up “home” in the church’s office.
After spending some time in prayer we presented them with a gift of $2,000 to use towards the repairs needed on their home. Our hispanic staff member, Roberto, was able to speak with them, relating that the money was for them. We could tell Roberto’s voice was passionate when he was speaking to Pastor Josue. Later I asked him what he said to the pastor. Roberto explained when he first presented the money to them, he knew they had no intention on using the money for themselves, but would use it for others. Roberto had to tell them firmly that the gift was specifically for their personal needs and had made them promise to use it for that purpose. It was moving to see Roberto understand them in a way that none of the rest of us could.
One of the biggest needs we continue to see is the need for rest. Pastor Jose and his wife in the midst of rebuilding of their own home were consistently working around the clock to hand out supplies. A vacation would be good for them.
It was exciting to see PastorServe be received so well among pastors and spouses of different denominations, different size churches, different races and different stages of life and ministry. Once people realized there were no strings attached to the gifts PastorServe gave, they were in awe that someone would care for them and want to encourage them.
Personal reflection since returning:
The scope of encouraging and offering the hope of Jesus to pastors and their families can be overwhelming. There are so many who were already giving of themselves sacrificially before the hurricane. Our manpower can seem insufficient, but every pastor and spouse we help has a multiplying effect in the lives of others in their church. If a pastor and his family are healthy spiritually and emotionally, then they will be able to minister from an overflow rather than a deficit.