As we walk through the experience of Hurricane Harvey together and face the affects it had on so many in our great city, God is reminding us of our unique calling as the church to radically and generously show love to our neighbors.
Over the coming weeks and months, as Houston rebuilds, we will be sharing stories of hope as well as providing opportunities to serve our neighbors around the city.
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The season of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas provides beautiful opportunities for us to gather with our neighbors around tables of delicious food. Two weeks ago, Ecclesia hosted a Thanksgiving feast in our hub in East Houston where we were able to host over 75 people. Many of these brothers and sisters were neighbors on the same street who hadn’t met together in weeks or months because of the hurricane.
Our fellow Ecclesia staff member, Josue, prepared his famous homemade Mexican pozole. And David, our head chef at Paper Co., volunteered his time to prepare a delicious spread of turkey and tamales. Both of these brothers have gone above and beyond to care for this neighborhood in beautiful ways.
The community loved the meal so much that they’ve asked to meet together more often so they can keep sharing food and stories. We’re planning a Christmas block party a few weeks from now.
Preparing a homemade meal or even a simple dish can provide a sense of home to a neighbor who is rebuilding after a storm. When you sense an opportunity to serve someone, we encourage you to lean in during this season. It means so much.
God bless you, Ecclesia.
Hello Ecclesia Family!
This week, we want to share the story of an Ecclesian who has been a neighbor to a family struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
In the days immediately following the storm, Ecclesia learned of a elderly couple from Vietnam whose house had flooded. They were unable to get out of their home in time and had to be rescued by neighbors who kicked in the door to rescue them. After spending a few nights in a shelter, they began living out of their car. As new arrivals in Houston who struggled with English, they were reluctant to seek help. At night they would park in hospital parking lots to prevent being moved by the police.
When our brother Jeff learned of their situation, he immediately checked them into a hotel and stayed with them until they were settled in. He helped arrange for a team to clean out their home so it could be dried out and rebuilt. When they were denied FEMA assistance because of a clerical error, Jeff stepped in and advocated on their behalf until they received the help they needed. And he helped them resettle into longer term housing as their home was being repaired and rebuilt.
“For years, I’ve been asking God to soften my heart,” Jeff told us. "This was an answer to that prayer, but not in a way I ever expected. This breaks your heart.”
Jeff has continued to walk with these neighbors throughout their recovery, being available in ordinary moments and assisting with everyday tasks. "It’s been eye-opening to see how difficult this storm has been for people. But this is exactly why the church is called to come alongside our neighbors. For me this has been such a remarkable journey, and I’m grateful for it.”
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we invite you to consider how you can be a blessing to your neighbors, especially to those who are still recovering from the storm. For neighbors who aren’t back in their homes yet, you might make extra room around your table, maybe free up a few spots on your couch to come watch football. There are so many opportunities for hospitality and generosity during a holiday week.
We’re grateful for you, Ecclesia. Happy Thanksgiving.
Hurricane Harvey was a tragedy for the city of Houston. And yet it has been an invitation for us to remember who we are and what we are called into. As Houston’s Holistic Mission Christian Community, Ecclesia exists for the world and not for ourselves. We seek to usher in the Kingdom of God, and we know this begins by being neighbors.
Life is moving on. But for victims of the storm, their future is uncertain, full of challenges and difficulties. It’s important to us that no one in our city walks alone. We are asking all Ecclesians to be a blessing to your neighbors in this season. Be hospitable and generous with your time and resources. Look for opportunities to serve others with encouragement, prayer and practical assistance. Ultimately, we know our church will be known by how well we love our neighbors in response to this storm.