Haynes: Gracious Savior Church mission to Houston reveals stories of people helping each other and finding faith (column)
From Sunday, Oct. 8, to Saturday, Oct. 14, a team from Gracious Savior Church traveled to Houston in order to assist with recovery work from Hurricane Harvey. I had the honor to travel and work alongside Dan Schaub, Nate Hall and Matthew Pontifes.
As we were driving through Houston, I was reminded of those great words from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”
Houston was a tale of two cities. Most of the city was in great shape. Business was thriving. Downtown was hustling with energy, as Minute Maid baseball park and the Houston Astros had garnered the attention and hope of the city. Houston was doing great.
But then you’d turn the corner into a neighborhood littered with debris tossed out of broken homes. We spent most of our days working in Cinco Ranch, a suburb just north of Houston. Close to 1,000 homes in this suburb alone suffered significant flood damage. We drove past streets filled with debris pilled up on the curbs, as people tossed out mattresses, couches and televisions. Every street had piles and piles of discarded drywall.
Houston is in horrible shape. Entire communities are homeless. Schools remain closed. A trail of drywall debris points to a trail of tears and sadness.
But not for one man: The Gracious Savior team had the privilege to meet a man named Ade, along with his wife and six boys. Ade lives, or rather used to live, in Cinco Ranch. His home, along with hundreds of others in Cinco Ranch, were flooded during Hurricane Harvey. We served Ade by removing the tile and wood floor in his home so that he could, hopefully, begin reconstructing his home soon.
Ade and his family have lived in Cinco Ranch for 17 years. While parts of Houston have experienced flooding in the past, Cinco Ranch has never had any trouble. Last summer, Ade was laid off from his job with a large oil and gas company. Needing to save money, Ade cancelled his flood insurance just last July — just two months before 50 inches of rain came down on his home.
Ade was watching the news while the rain was pouring down on Saturday, Aug. 26. He heard about a senior convalescent home in his area that needed help evacuating residents, so he drove over there to help out. While assisting others, Ade noticed that the rain was not letting up, and he called his wife to check on his own family and home. Ade’s wife told him to stay and help the seniors. She told him, “God is watching over us and we will be just fine. You should stay and help some other people.”
Ade stayed the entire day helping evacuate folks from their residence. In the evening, he got in his car to drive home and discovered the streets were flooded and he could not get home. His own home flooded that night.
Because one of his sons has some serious medical issues, Ade was able get a ride in a helicopter and help direct a rescue boat to his house. From high above, he watched his wife and six boys crowd into a raft and be floated out of his home. He sobbed at the sight of the destruction and the loss of his home.
What happened next is best heard in Ade’s own words. He told us, “But I could not hide and cry in the closet. We found a place to live, and God has provided for my family. When we had $180 in our checking account, we went to the grocery store and the person in line behind us bought all of our groceries for us. Family, friends and former co-workers are sending me money. Jesus will see us through, and I am growing in my faith and humility.”
Houston may be a tale of two cities. But it is full of incredible stories of people helping each other and finding faith. The team from Gracious Savior Church was honored and humbled to listen to those stories and to provide a very small helping hand.
Jason Haynes is the head pastor at Gracious Savior Church in Edwards.