Houston church retools annual community service day to focus on flood relief
April 27th, 2016 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
HOUSTON—An annual community service day took on a new purpose for one Houston-area congregation in the aftermath of severe flooding from April thunderstorms. In response to the devastation, Champion Forest Baptist Church retooled its scheduled “Serve Saturday” April 23 to emphasize disaster relief.
“We completely pivoted what we had planned on doing, or most of it, so we could refocus our energy on flood relief,” said Jared Richard, Champion Forest’s mobilization pastor.
“We sent teams into houses and nearby apartment complexes to do mud-out and move furniture and pack people up. We had people go out in prayer teams to minister to people and talk to them, to help them walk through some of the grief they were experiencing from the overwhelming flooding.”
Champion Forest also deployed teams to area washaterias to pay for laundry and minister to people, Richard said.
The laundry ministry is a staple of Serve Saturday, but in the wake of flooding, area laundromats were especially crowded, said Lynette Adam, CFBC volunteer. “The church provides the quarters. Our people go out and greet the people coming in. They offer to help with laundry, and they pay for it. This year we paid hundreds of dollars,” Adams said, adding that team members also distributed Spanish and Vietnamese language Bibles.
On Saturday, a Filipino American man gave his life to Christ as one couple shared both quarters and the gospel. “The man right there in the laundromat prayed to receive Christ,” Adam said.
Seven people were saved on Serve Saturday, CFBC pastor David Fleming said. “I won’t say [this was] unintentional evangelism, but being intentional while doing service ministry. It was ministry evangelism.”
Altogether, 1,327 church members participated in Serve Saturday. They assisted in mudding-out 56 homes in addition to ministry in laundromats and apartment complexes.
Mud-out teams were led by trained volunteers, many of whom were among the more than 180 who had attended the SBTC disaster relief training hosted by the church on Friday, April 22. All participants received a 30-minute orientation before beginning mud-out work on Saturday, Richard said.
Elsewhere on Saturday, church middle schoolers sorted materials and assisted victims at a donation center set up at the Klein Independent School District multipurpose building, which is home to CFBC’s north campus, Richard said.
Serve Saturday also included ministry to area homeless. “Our homeless ministry, Champions 4 Hope, goes out every Saturday,” Richard explained. “A lot of the homeless live in the woods near us, and they were affected by the water.”
CFBC relief efforts began even earlier in the week. With Cypresswood Drive impassable, the local Harris County sheriff’s substation moved its vehicles to church property. Authorities also transported displaced nursing home residents to the church until they could be relocated.
Mid-week, as the floodwaters began to recede, the entire church staff conducted an organized outreach to member homes affected by the flooding.
“Wednesday and Thursday, our staff of 45 to 50 searched out our members whose homes had been damaged,” Fleming said. “Our staff mobilized. We literally walked into knee- and waist-deep water into neighborhoods where we knew we had members. We started mud-outs on Wednesday and worked all day Wednesday and Thursday. So by the time Saturday rolled around, our whole staff had significant experience.”
Praising Richard for doing a “great job” running “point” during the week, Fleming added, “I am so thankful for our staff setting a great example. Our folks are so good about volunteering and serving. It’s in their DNA.”