Samaritan's Purse

‘Souls are being renewed’

50 salvations recorded from DR work at Champion Forest

November 6th, 2017 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

‘Souls are being renewed’

Susan Greig and Janet Kroger pray with a young mom as she holds one of her three children. Photo by Jane Rodgers

HOUSTON  “That’s the flag off my daddy’s coffin,” the 60-year-old homeowner told SBTC Disaster Relief (DR) chaplains and assessors Terry Bunch and Bob Bynum Oct. 4 while gesturing to an American flag draped over a stepladder in front of his house.

“I want the rain to wash it off,” the man explained, adding that his house, in the Pecan Forest neighborhood off Kuykendahl Road which backed onto a branch of Cypress Creek, had flooded for the third time during Hurricane Harvey. 

“I think we’re done here. I don’t think they’ll permit us [to rebuild],” said the homeowner, who asked not to be identified. 

When Bunch asked if he had a relationship with Jesus Christ, the man replied, “Yes. I am well aware that this is all just a puff of smoke.”

The chaplains, dodging acorns dropped by squirrels from a large oak tree, asked permission to pray with the homeowner, who agreed and promised to let others needing help know that assistance was available at Champion Forest Baptist Church, about six miles away.

It was all in an afternoon’s work for the chaplains who had spent days canvassing neighborhoods where the smell of mold filled the air weeks after rains from Harvey ceased, and lawns were now dead from the excess water.

Bynum and Bunch gingerly stepped through a debris-filled yard to leave a door hanger with information about where to get help.  

Days before, Bunch, Bynum and fellow chaplain Susan Greig led a young man to Christ, one of 50 salvations that had been recorded by DR volunteers working out of Champion Forest.

The young man, Julian, had made eight trips from Dallas-Fort Worth to assist his aunt, Erika, a single parent with a special-needs son. Erika’s visually-impaired mother also lived in the flooded home. Both mother and daughter had long prayed for Julian’s salvation, which came in the midst of a “dark, moldy, smelly, damp” setting when the chaplains presented the gospel and Julian said “yes.”

Crews were assigned to work at Erika’s home and two days later, Bunch and Bynum presented her with a monetary gift that a church member in another city had sent so that she could buy books for her son. 

The presentation to Erika at her workplace occurred after Bunch and Bynum had met with homeowner Frank DeSimone in his home off Kuykendahl Road. DeSimone had already stripped most of the waterlogged sheetrock down to the studs.

“We want to do what needs to be done for you,” Bunch told DeSimone, describing the anti-mold treatment SBTC DR often uses. “When the bad comes, if we can come alongside you and make the bad less bad, that’s what we want to do.”

After assessing DeSimone’s home and offering help, the chaplains prayed with him and gave him a tract explaining how to find hope in crisis, which he accepted with a smile.

Before dinner that same evening, chaplains Janet Kroger, who is from Hawaii, and Susan Greig answered a final call, driving to the rented home of a young mother with three small children who had noticed mold on her ceilings. 

Finding some storm damage, the chaplains contacted the homeowner in the young mom’s presence and described the situation. As they left, the mom was smiling and loading up her three kids to go to a friend’s house.

Some missed appointments became divine encounters. Wally Leyerle, SBTC DR associate, told the story of DR volunteer Chris Enright and a team of volunteers sent to work on a home, only to find the homeowner away. As the team waited, a neighbor approached to investigate. When he said his home needed work also, the team assessed that man’s house, in the process striking up a conversation about spiritual things.

“He ended up praying to receive Christ,” Leyerle said. “Had the neighbor not missed his appointment, that guy probably would not have heard the gospel.”

Encounters such as these have characterized the disaster relief work at Champion Forest, where the church itself has sent out hundreds of volunteers into the community in addition to hosting SBTC DR volunteers, including new teams recently signed up via the SBTC’s Texas Relief program.

Churches across Houston have repeated that pattern of offering help after the disaster.

“They have shared out of their abundance,” SBTC director of chaplains Gordon Knight said of Champion Forest in particular, while praising other area churches as well.

To date, SBTC DR crews, supplemented by Texas Relief and other volunteers, have completed more than 360 work orders, Leyerle confirmed.

Darrell McCain, DR director of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, served as unit director at Champion Forest Sept. 27-Oct. 6 after responding to the national call-out the North American Mission Board issued.

“Because the storm was so large, NAMB said we need everybody,” McCain told the TEXAN. 

“Not only have we had 50 salvations, but there have been numerous stories of spiritual contacts also,” McCain said. “Souls are being renewed.”