Relief Work in Houston

This post comes from seminarian Matt Rucker who writes about his recent trip to Houston to help Missio Dei Anglican Church in their efforts to rebuild their community.

When Hurricane Harvey reached the coast of Texas and poured rain over the city of 11 million, I was out of the country and enjoying the waning moments of my summer vacation. Little did I know, as I watched the horrendous flooding begin on the BBC, that in a matter of weeks I would be blessed enough to go there myself as part of a team from Trinity School for Ministry, SAMS-USA, and Christ Church Plano.

Although I now recognize what a blessing it was to spend my reading week repairing homes and spending time with a few people affected by Hurricane Harvey, I was initially quite reluctant to go. When the call first went out to the student body – the trip was open only for seniors at Trinity – I knew that the trip was something I did not want to do. The timing was inconvenient, the work would be difficult, and with everything on my plate I decided there and then that I would not be going. Yet, as the trip approached and the call continued, this time for Seniors with past construction experience who can speak Spanish, it became clearer that this was something God was asking me to do. During the team meetings before the trip, I was not the only one to share a story like this one. The trip was going to be difficult and was not part of anyone’s plans for the semester, but we all recognized a calling to go anyways. So the team, led by Seminary Professor  Rev. Jack Gabig, somewhat reluctantly departed from Pittsburgh for Texas in mid-October. After meeting a team from Christ Church Plano, we drove to Missio Dei Anglican Church in downtown Houston – a recent church plant that meets in an old warehouse beautifully converted into a church – which is spearheading much of the relief work in Houston.

The purposes of our trip, beyond providing immediate relief, were to gather information about what was needed in Houston for the organizations represented on the trip, to help Missio Dei prepare itself to continue to receive groups like ours, and to build relationships in the community so Missio Dei can be more aware of those who are in need of their assistance. On all counts, the trip was a success, thanks be to God. We spent most of our time rebuilding the home of a man named Gustavo, who lived with his daughter Stephanie. In one week we were able to almost entirely rebuild the interior of his home from the studs. However, I would say that the most important result of our work in Gustavo’s home was manifested in Gustavo himself, who told us that during Harvey and the weeks that followed he felt as if God had abandoned him. Following the time we spent repairing his home and being with him and Stephanie, he expressed no longer feeling that way. Needless to say, it was an incredible blessing to be able to be part of a team that was, in spite of its reluctance, used by God to provide a reminder that He loves us and is present with us, especially in the midst of tragedy.

I would encourage Christ Church Anglican to pray and consider ways to support hurricane relief in Houston, and in the other regions where homes and lives have been devastated recently. Please pray for Missio Dei Anglican Church, which is praying for more teams to come and work in their neighborhood during these upcoming years.