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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Texas church shows resilience in the wake of Hurricane Harvey


‘Putting lives back together is our ministry’

October 19, 2017

It’s called the Golden Triangle, a region about an hour and a half east of Houston. Most people had never heard of it until Hurricane Harvey. The communities in the triangle made national news when flooding cut off many residents from immediate help. Like many impacted by Harvey, some homes saw minimal damage, while others had several feet of water.

Teenagers in Beaumont, Texas, provide residents with a little entertainment during the rising water from Hurricane Harvey. “God sent angels to make us smile,” Mike Markum said. (Photo by Mike Markum)

In the weeks after Harvey, residents worked fast and furiously to try to return to some sense of normalcy. Churches in the area became distribution centers for supplies such as water, diapers, food, cleaning materials and other necessities while trying to get worship and other church activities back on track.

At St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Beaumont, damage was estimated at $50,000 to $70,000. There was water damage in the church nursery, courtyard and ceilings.

During a sermon, shortly after the hurricane, the Rev. Dr. Emmett Powers encouraged the congregation to persevere.

“New lives will emerge from the rubble, yet some will take longer to recover,” he said. “We look around at the losses and we realize the task of putting lives back together is our ministry, whether it be a case of water, a jar of peanut butter or a bottle of medicine. We will re-establish humanity from this mountain of debris.”

Powers said God strengthens God’s people in times of crisis.

“There is still much to do. This congregation will restore humanity to lives that have been shattered,” he said. “Tragedy teaches us something new about ourselves and teaches us something new about our God.”

Several members of the congregation suffered damage to their homes. One couple, Bob and Judy Fisher, had more than 60 inches of water in their house.

“It will take a year or more before we get things back on track,” Bob Fisher said.

Mike and Tammy Markum, along with their daughter Kaylee, found themselves isolated in their home as water began to rise in their neighborhood.

Worship continues at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Beaumont, Texas, two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, Sunday, Sept. 10. (PNS Photo/Rick Jones)

“When the water started to rise, we moved things from the first floor of our house to the second floor,” Mike Markum said. “At 2 a.m., the water was 15 feet from our house. Four hours later, the water was lapping at our door.”

The Markums ended up with 2 inches of water in their home.

“When news of Harvey’s approach came in, I bought supplies, but was still worried we would run out of food and lose power,” he said. “However, we were lucky and that never happened.”

Markum said that once the water receded, people would show up several times during the week, knocking on doors and offering food and other assistance.

“Our church community is strong in Beaumont. You could hear boats going out all weekend picking people up,” he said. “People still care about each other.”

Despite the disruption, the church plans to continue with programs and services, including a special Christmas pageant in December.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to long-term service in communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing and raises designated funds for responding to specific disasters.

Rick Jones, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Hurricane Harvey

Let us join in prayer for:

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Staff

Dr. Rev. Emmett Powers, Senior Pastor
Julie Odle, Coordinator of Pastoral Care & Christian Ministries
Susan Reese, Youth, Young Adults, and Young Families Director
Holly Crutchfield, Secretary
Melissa Hoyt, Financial Secretary
Deanna Weitzel, Day School Director
Dennis Rowe, Director of Music
Carolyn Perkins, Organist

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Michelle Schulz, PMA
Wilma Scott, OGA

Let us pray:

God of mercy, we are grateful that new life can arise from loss. We give thanks for those who give of themselves so that others might have hope. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 36; 147:12-20
First Reading Jeremiah 38:1-13
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 14:26-33a (33b-36) 37-40
Gospel Reading Matthew 10:34-42
Evening Psalms 80; 27