A 'Thanksgiving' Offering
Hurricane Harvey Update October 13, 2017
A good leader never forgets to thank those who make it possible to do the work for which he or she is responsible. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few days. I’ve personally written over one hundred notes and letters to folks who contributed to UBA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
As of today (October 13, 2017) UBA has received $119,450.83 in cash and nearly $40,000 in gift cards. Most of the funds and and gift cards have already been distributed to churches, pastors and families affected by the storm. Each week, as more comes in, we distribute it to those in need.
As soon as the storm ended UBA staff members started contacting our churches all across to city to assess the damage and needs. We discovered over 50 UBA churches were damaged by the storm. Some had only minor damage. Others had several feet of water in their buildings.
While a few of our larger churches have flood insurance and/or resources in the congregation to help them recover, most of our churches do not have the resources they need. We can provide some cash, but we do not have the resources to help them fully recover. So we are helping them find partners to come alongside them to help. Many times we are able to help them find “church to church” partners that will work with them over the coming months to recover.
Many pastors lost their homes and/or automobiles during the storm. Some lost their homes, their automobiles and had their churches flooded. A few had to be rescued from rising flood waters by boat. Listening to them tell their stories was heartbreaking. UBA has provided them with some cash and gift cards to help with some immediate needs, but much, much more is needed. When we can we become their advocates with other ministries that are able to help.
Perhaps the most amazing story through all of this has been the story of the church’s response to the crisis. I don’t need to recite what you’ve probably heard many times already … that the church was central in providing volunteers and resources to help those in need, that more money has been given and distributed to flood victims by the faith community than by FEMA, and that many of those who helped and gave money to help others were victims themselves. One of the first contributions to UBA's Harvey Relief Fund came from a pastor whose own home was flooded! Isn't that amazing?
Here’s the stark reality: no matter how much we do—and we are doing all we can—it is rarely enough. If you and your family were not affected by Hurricane Harvey, I'm asking you to make a “thanksgiving offering” to UBA’s Harvey Relief fund so that we can help others. I am confident you’ll be rewarded many times over for your generosity.
As to UBA, work on our building is progressing. While the repairs are not complete, things are shaping up and should be completed within a few more weeks. Thanks to those who sent money earmarked for us to use on our building.
Harvey dealt Houston a devastating blow. Many families and churches were affected. I do not want to minimize their grief or loss in any way. It may take them years to recover fully ... if they ever do.
Still, we serve a God who is able to do good and great things in bad situations. We see it every day as Christians reach out and help others in Jesus' name. I'm happy to be part of a church and an association that is committed to doing the best of things in the worst of times.