By Carl Stagner
UPDATE, August 29: “It feels like we are stuck living in a long, dirty shower that never stops.” The words of Jim Feirtag late Monday express what countless Texans are feeling as rains from Tropical Storm Harvey persist. The church Jim pastors, Parkgate Church of God in Pasadena, Texas, has already helped some people displaced by the storm and has made preparations to do much more in the coming weeks.
Houston First Church of God reported late Monday that the water had receded from their building with no visible damage. They thank everyone for their prayers. Unfortunately, the Church of God in Texas reports that an estimated forty-two Church of God congregations were affected by this disaster. Assessment is ongoing, but Tim Gould, pastor of Houston First Church, is now receiving e-mail inquiries about work teams and the need for physical labor. When assessment is complete, inquirers will be notified with specific opportunities. Churches and individuals may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued prayers, support, patience, and willingness to serve!
The average annual rainfall for Houston, Texas, is 49.76 inches. Forecasters suggest parts of southeast Texas could surpass that amount of rain before Hurricane Harvey—now a tropical storm—moves out. As the Church of God assesses the developing situation on the ground, the need for disaster relief is imminent. While reports of loss may not be complete for several weeks, experts predict that an estimated 30 thousand people will need temporary shelter in the wake of widespread flood damage. Opportunities to give time, supplies, and resources will become more clear in the coming days. Until then, the Church of God Disaster Relief Team is urging you to pray and give.
Harvey’s heavy rain may hamper initial cleanup efforts, as precipitation chances linger as late as the first of September. Tim Gould serves as pastor of Houston First Church of God, which had to move their morning service online yesterday. “Worship Service Plan B” was held over Facebook Live as prayer was lifted for families dealing with the devastation, including one family that woke up to three feet of water in their house. While the water had receded from the church building late Monday morning, the possibility of more rain means they’re not out of the woods yet.
Southeast of Houston, the city of Pasadena is also continuing to deal with Harvey’s onslaught. Sunday morning the city issued a “shelter-in-place” notice warning families not to venture out onto the roads and risk further danger to them and rescuers. At the time, a post on the Parkgate Community Church of God Facebook page said, “We have a number of families with water in their homes. We are praying for you and with you.”
Jim Feirtag, senior pastor of Parkgate, shared the following message late last night via social media to keep the Church of God updated. “We have received over twenty-one inches of rain since midnight, over thirty-three since Friday, according to our local Weather Underground station in Deer Park. We are personally still dry, although it got within an inch or less from our back door last night and about two inches [away] this afternoon. The church itself is in good shape. We’ve had a break from the rain for about four hours now, but it’s starting again soon. So many people have gotten water in their homes and many more have lost everything. If this storm doesn’t move, even more will be affected with another round coming tonight and in the days ahead. Worst case scenario is for another twenty-five inches between now and Wednesday. School is out for the week already. Prayers for this storm to move would be appreciated. And for those northern churches who have expressed interest in sending support or labor, please know that area pastors will be networking together in the coming days to assess needs and come up with a good plan. Just contact us with your interest and resources when you can.”
Timothy West, the state administrator and regional pastor for the General Assembly of the Church of God in Texas, reports that thirty to forty Church of God congregations may be affected by the time it’s over, depending on the storm’s trajectory. An initial damage report is expected to be posted online in the next few days at www.texaschurchofgod.org.
Please continue to pray for our churches and pastors as they find themselves facing extraordinary challenges over the next few weeks and months. Pray for the families of our Church of God congregations whose homes have been destroyed. Please pray for the first-responders who continue to perform water rescues. Please pray that the light of Christ will shine through what one government official reported was worse than a catastrophe. Finally, please give to Church of God Disaster Relief.
About Church of God Disaster Relief—In crises where an immediate response is critical for relief, Church of God Ministries advances funds in anticipation of a gracious outpouring of donations from churches and individuals. Such advances are made from a limited Disaster Relief Fund maintained by Church of God Ministries for emergency response to disaster. Disaster Relief contributions are utilized to bring relief to those affected by disasters worldwide. Give now at give.jesusisthesubject.org/disasterrelief.