It started raining on Friday, August 25, in Hull, Texas. By Sunday night, the water began to invade homes and buildings, compromising the town’s safety. The rains, a result of Hurricane Harvey, didn’t stop until Wednesday, the town was paralyzed until Thursday. The terror remained long after.
Like many churches, FBC Hull served as a first responder to this tragic natural disaster, and their focus was the surrounding communities.
“We were focusing on people in their homes here,” said John Guedry, pastor of FBC Hull. “When people who already in the last days of August didn’t know if they would be able to afford rent for September 1st and didn’t know where their last few days of groceries would come from, we wanted to keep these realities in mind and at the forefront of what we were doing.”
FBC Hull was able to coordinate numerous volunteers, not only from their own congregation, but also from several churches around the community. “Broken relationships from years past went by the wayside and people have jumped back in to work hand in hand with us,” said Guedry.
Over the course of the next week after the hurricane hit, FBC Hull was able to serve over 1,700 hot meals and distributed 500 loads of supplies all in a town of 600 people. This was all made possible by churches all over the state, organizations, food vendors, and willing individuals.
Still, the church needed help, especially with repairs to their own building. Texas Baptists Church2Church partnership provided help through Green Acres Baptist Church, a sister congregation three hours away in Tyler.
“I got a call from Dale Pond, missions minister at Green Acres, and he said they had contacted Texas Baptists to find a church that they could partner with. They put Green Acres in touch with Ernest Dagohoy [Area 5 Representative], who had just been at our church the night before,” said Guedry. “Dagohoy walked through our facilities and was able to tell Green Acres what we were doing in our community, and it fit what they were looking for.”
“Pond contacted me and then the next day I got a phone call from David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres, confirming that they would be partnering with us. They collected information, photos, and stories from me. They showed a presentation to their church making the partnership official.”
A few weeks later, 20 volunteers from Green Acres arrived at FBC Hull to help with the remaining donation distribution, assessing the damage of both the church and the community and began making plans. That same weekend, students from Green Acres’ College Ministry helped finish demolition work at the church, and a few weeks later, volunteers from both Green Acres’ Student Ministry and Singles Ministry helped host a “Second Chance Initiative” for the community. This comprised of bounce houses, face painting and an outdoor praise service. Their focus was to serve both the physical and spiritual needs of community members in Hull.
Guedry said, “Things were looking pretty deep and dark there for a little while. The willingness of Green Acres was, if anything, the encouragement to keep pressing on.”
Once the church demolition was complete, GABC sent teams of construction volunteers to Hull to spend 2-3 days completing specific projects. The teams consisted of men who were already organized and active in their local community to do construction projects. GABC also moved their shower unit to FBC Hull’s parking lot to serve the needs of volunteers and others serving the community.
“The church members at FBC Hull have been a blessing to work with,” said Andria Horton, Missions Special Projects Coordinator. “Every team returns home with glowing reports on the hospitality of the church members, who provide guidance and meals for the team members. Though Tyler did not receive the devastation of South Texas, the Bible sets the precedence for our care and support of fellow believers in their time of need.”
She continued, “2 Corinthians 8:14-15 speaks of the New Testament Church supporting Jerusalem during their time of need. It is a blessing that we can give back in our time of ‘surplus’ and help rebuild Hull into a stronger community.”
Guedry ended encouraging churches to be proactive in disaster relief, saying, “There are going to always be crises, disasters, and needs somewhere near you and somewhere around the world. Begin now thinking of the terms of the basic Christian responsibility to respond, to let no one in need go without when we have much. If we have something, we can’t let someone else go without it. Be ready and active and have a plan in place.”
For more information of Texas Baptists continued Harvey relief efforts, including Church2Church Partnerships, please visit texasbaptists.org/harvey.