Friends here at the blog,
I’ve been away, teaching a class in Central Oregon this week. I had a great time and it was good to teach again. I’d forgotten how much I like to teach and how much I enjoy interacting with students. Good stuff. But tonight, I came home and watched some recorded episodes of Nightline to see the City of Galveston, and much of Houston is still without power, and many people are as yet unable to return to their homes. Because my family weathered the storm well, my concerns for the area were lessened and I got lost in planning for my class. But the news revealed the city needs a great deal of help. The Red Cross is, as always, doing amazing work, and there are many more organizations doing great work down there. But I wanted to pass along a letter written by my good friend Chris Seay. Whenever people are in need, Chris and his church Ecclesia are quick to help. Literally, these are some of the hardest working people I’ve met. I spent a summer down there at Ecclesia and lived with Chris and his family for a month of that summer and saw firsthand his church is part church, part relief agency, part coffee-shop, part everything. And I know the people at Ecclesia are volunteering much of their time to helping those in the greatest need, both within their congregation and in the community that surrounds them.
I want to reprint the letter Chris sent out which contains some of their needs and contact information that will allow you to help. If you are considering giving something to the effort, or if your church is pulling supplies together and you are not sure where to send them, please consider giving through Chris’ church, Ecclesia. Also, if you live anywhere near Houston, within 500 miles or so, and can fill your truck with chainsaws and supplies, please consider doing so and delivering the tools or materials to Chris directly. Those tools will make it into the hands of workers very quickly.
Thanks for being so amazing….
My Brothers and Sisters,
I am not sure how clearly the national media is telling the story of the devastation in Houston and Galveston, but I can tell you that the rare combination of a massive storm that filled the Gulf of Mexico and the fact that it struck Houston and Galveston ( a combined population of close to 5 million people) has created a disaster of immense proportions. The majority of the city is still without power and clean water and almost everyone has some kind of damage to their residence or business. Houston, which became known as a city of generosity and hospitality after Katrina, is now experiencing what it is like to be on the other end of that kind of generosity.
Ecclesia is thrilled to be able to represent the broader church as a source for light and love to so many hurting in the devastation of this storm. We will continue to need teams skilled in debris removal, demolition, and construction for much of the coming year. If you are willing to send a team, we will work to provide lodging and logistical support for your teams. We are longing to have brothers and sisters that will demonstrate the love of the Liberating King as they help families in a time of dire need. In addition to those that will come and labor alongside of us, there are some immediate financial needs that would help us to serve the region and share the hope of the gospel. There are three areas of immediate needs:
1)Relief Support – any donations to relief support will go to purchase chainsaws, tools, food, van rentals, water, generators, temporary employment for relief coordinators, and necessary items to support relief teams. We are estimating the immediate need for relief support to be more than 25,000 dollars. If you are able to purchase any of these items in your area and have them delivered to Houston, this would be preferred over local purchasing. However both can be accommodated.
2)Financial Relief – for those suffering financially because of loss of property and income, we would like to offer a short term assistance package. For countless families and individuals struggling to make it financially before the storm (hourly wage employees, immigrants, and single mothers), the last week has often been devastating. We hope that the federal government will improve in their response time, but the church is able and willing to fill this gap. If you would like to give specifically to this package we will distribute the following on your behalf. In the case of single mothers we intend to double the assistance.
$150 Mortgage/Rental Assistance
$100 Grocery Card
$50 Gas Card
$20 Basic Toiletries
Gospel of John (VOX)
We will attempt to continue or begin a long-term relationship with all assisted families and will offer this assistance to as many as possible.
3) Taft Street Coffee as a House of Hospitality – You may know that Taft Street Coffee (the coffee shop owned and run by Ecclesia) is rated each year as one of the top 3 coffee shops in the entire city. This morning we had our power restored and would like to re-open the shop as a site for those still without power. We estimate that over the next three weeks many would benefit from a centrally located house of hospitality that offers air conditioning, a free lunch, coffee drinks, Wi-Fi, phone service, children’s play space, and spiritual support. If you would like to sponsor the food and operational costs to run Taft Street Coffee as a gift to the community, we estimate that cost to be $850 per day.
If you have any questions you can contact me (Chris@ecclesiahouston.org / cell 713 539-9201) or our Mission Pastor John Starr (firstname.lastname@example.org / cell 832 630-4267). I am grateful for the love and support of the entire church to my beloved City.
In Service to The Liberating King and His Kingdom,
Pastor – Ecclesia Houston
Houston, Tx 77006