Right now counts forever. So do something.

by Vittoria Allen | September 11, 2017

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the city was faced with devastation physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With no time to waste, Rock Church Community Chaplains hopped on a flight and went straight to Houston to provide whatever relief possible. Below are some of the stories that are arising from Houston; stories of hope, survival, encouragement, and the beauty of community coming together. 

From our partners at Crisis Response International and HopeForce International:


Photo to the left of Bobbie and Carmen from Conroe, TX. 

"The river behind their house ran over and flooded their entire first level up to 7 plus feet.The team arrived today and totally stripped out the interior. 

As God was blessing them today they reflected on how discouraged they felt since their house was flooded a year ago from the same river, and they recently finished the remodel. At the end of today, they both acknowledged it was just stuff....and that God's mercy and favor was delivered to them, and was sufficient. 

My teammate, Craig Fryman from New Paris, Indiana loves Christ to the point he makes it contagious......and we worked the kitchen demo, bathroom demo and removed all the appliances." - John (Rock Church Chaplain)


Ramon and Rosie have a very sick child that was misdiagnosed for years. He has cancer and is 4 years old. They lost everything in the flood. I offered the salvation prayer and they accepted the Lord in the hospital room! They also have a 16-year-old.

They basically live at the hospital day and night. I gave them a $100.00 Home Depot gift card and a $100.00 Walmart gift card for their daughter to get some personal items. They were so thankful to have people caring for them. - Lisa (Outreach Pastor + Rock Church Chaplain)


Tony's mom and sister in front of his home that was worked on. There is a HUGE pile of all of his belongings out on the curb. They opened up the house for the crew to do the work. Tony is a double amputee and is on the waiting list for a heart transplant. He was admitted to the hospital right before the flooding came. He welcomed me and Chaplain John into his hospital room. We could have missed him today due to the parking situation. We drove round and round in this HUGE busy Houston hospital area to find parking. Chaplain John said, "Well if we can't find anything today, it may not be the day we see Tony."

Right before the last loop around the parking lot,  out came a space that was wide open and at the FRONT stall. I prayed that Jesus would open up that space for us. He was very glad to have the company and was such a humorous guy with such a positive attitude. It first sounded like he was pretty grounded in the Lord. He shared about the loss of his father who was from Portugal. This dude looked like a black man or an islander with a Spanish name. Also, his son was murdered and shot in the head in 1991. His perpetrator was found. He talked a lot of "story" (Hawaiian's say this). When I heard him say that he "kinda knows of God" and that most people say he's a pretty nice guy, I knew that he was possibly reaching out for something more. As we chatted a little more, I found ways to share God's love with him. Then before we left, I told him that I wanted to provide him assurance that he could be saved and know without a shadow of a doubt, that he could spend eternity with Jesus. He would be able to see his dad once again, as well as his son. I started to get so emotional all of a sudden (which doesn't happen like this typically). The Holy Spirit was doing some serious movement here. He listened to me and started to also cry. As I prayed for him and his health, I then lead him through a salvation prayer. He repeated softly after me as his voice was not that strong. It was so awesome! He offered me a tissue as I was balling! - Lisa (Outreach Pastor + Rock Church Chaplain)


Meet Michael. He purchased his dream home here in Bear Creek only two years ago. He lost it all! He is a believer and knows only Jesus will get him through this traumatic event. He was rescued by boat and was escorted back to find his beloved pets, 2 cats. He had 5.5' of water in his home. One managed to climb to a tall cabinet and stayed there until he was rescued. 

The other was saved by a floating table in the middle of a room. That was the only piece of furniture that was left in that room as it was a raging river throughout the house. He saw HopeForce International working on another home next door and asked if he could have assistance as well. A team was able to deploy next door as they were just finishing up Bob's home, a neighbor. So many homes on this street are in ruin. Many have just left and cannot even bear to come back in. - Lisa (Outreach Pastor + Rock Church Chaplain)


This is Rosa - We met her earlier in the week. A team from HopeForce International will be working on their home. One of the workers has been in contact with her husband Luis on a daily basis. Rosa called and stated that she was feeling suicidal due to the overwhelming loss of everything from the disaster. She told the worker that she didn't want to talk about it and that they just needed some boxes. John and I rushed over to where she and her husband are staying, which is with one of their son's. We chatted with her about the grief being a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. We told her that Jesus is the only one that will get her and the entire family through this. She and her husband have health issues (heart surgery, cancer) including Luis's relapses of an addiction. Rosa stated that she's tired and it's one thing after another. She felt everyone would be better off without her. I told her the devil is a LIAR and that she has to fight! We also told her that God is doing something NEW within her. 

There was a lot more. John told her about the goodness of the Savior and what it's like to have His peace. He asked her to repeat after him a prayer of strength and commitment to combat the devil and his lies. She followed his prompting and instruction. John then let her know that I would be leading her into a prayer of salvation to accept Christ into her heart. I was like whoa! I then led her in prayer and she accepted Christ. After praying, I knelt down for about 15-20 seconds and she appeared as though she had fainted or fell into a deep slumber. Her body went totally limp! I got a little nervous as I was hoping she was alright. 

It was WILD!!! All of a sudden, she came too.  We asked Rosa what happened and she stated that "I had not been sleeping well and that the Lord told me that I would find rest and have a small glimpse into such rest and peace." She also stated that she felt a complete peace over her during that time. As we started to chat more, I saw steam from her nose and mouth for over two minutes. I thought I was seeing things! It kept coming. It was like God was removing the junk right then and there.

Rosa was so happy that she had reached out to us for help. I had her make a "suicide agreement" with me that she would not hurt or harm herself. She also stated she went to church on Sunday and that the message felt like it was just for her. We told her about being in community with a local church as well as seeking a recovery program for her husband, Luis. It was pretty awesome! God gets all the Glory! - Lisa (Outreach Pastor + Rock Church Chaplain)


One of the few ways to reach out to the drying streets of Houston was to feed them. While I was deployed, the team asked if anyone had cooking experience and my wife Sandy was quick to rejoice my love of cooking while I was outside cleaning up our gear from the days work in the field.

So, a mobile kitchen trailer was prayed for before I arrived in Houston, and it was paid for by a donor to CRI and delivered to Houston the day Sandy and I arrived.  It was named the Mobile Kitchen Unit (MKU), and began being outfitted with a new range, griddle, side by side refrigerator and Ice maker, which I helped install. Within 3 days of outfitting, the trailer hit the street we were working, and God fed lunch to approximately 150 people per day.  As the trailer sat on the garbage-lined streets, the kitchen crew smiled and invited passers-by while Christian music played out her speakers.  There were no logos on the trailer, just the Lord's presence....and as the CRI demolition team came to eat their lunch...they ministered to the locals by breaking bread together on a dry patch of lawn.- John Nasshan (Rock Church Chaplain)


Meet Gina. The first time we met her at the beginning of the week, she was ANGRY! 

Angry at everything and everybody, including God. Gina is Italian, a New Yorker and a Catholic, and was a LIVE WIRE and spit fire! Seeing her parents home, contents and memories of over 40+ years sitting out on the curb was just too overwhelming. Picking through the rubble to salvage whatever she could find for her mom, became the main goal. Gina's parents, who are both 87 years old, have no idea the magnitude of destruction this flood has caused to their community or to the City of Houston. 

The Army Corps of Engineers opened up the reservoirs during the massive flooding to release pressure on the dams, which in turn, caused additional flooding to communities downstream. Homeowners have said it was never safe to rebuild from the last flood, but the City of Houston did not communicate or inform them of this potential hazard. Gina's parents were taken off to New York City where they are originally from as she did not want her parents to see all of the destruction. Plus, there is nothing now to come home to as it's all gone! Over the last few days, we ministered to Gina in a gentle and loving way. I must say, she is extremely funny, very real and quite BLUNT! 

Gina was amazed at how all of the different denominations were out there working and serving the people. But one thing really stood out to her which was this; No Catholics or the church that they had been a part of was to be found anywhere. She was very upset and felt that they had basically abandoned them. Gina shared memories of her childhood and how difficult it was for the family. There's a lot of dysfunction and unfortunately, she was the scapegoat. She has a brother, Tony, whom we met yesterday and were able to minister to as well. 

Gina lives close to her parents home and assisted them with the rebuilding during the last flood. She is a go-getter, not afraid of hard work and is still seeking approval from her mom, even after all of these years. She is now in her fifties and as the days went on, her heart got softer. We just loved her where she was at. Gina realized that all of this "stuff" she was afraid her mom was going to blame her for losing, was not worth the stress and started to set some strong boundaries with her mother. No longer willing to accept or allow the abuse, you could see her letting things go day by day, moment by moment.    

Today, she spoke a lot about how the "religion" of Catholicism was so far off and that she did not feel the love from them during this time of great need. Gina and her brother raved about HopeForce International and the two Chaplains that have been there and supported them throughout the week. Her brother wondered where these people had come from and now wants to go through disaster response training himself, to help assist and serve others. We also learned today that Gina has decided to give a $1,200.00 donation that her job is giving her, to help others who were affected by this historic event. Paying it forward! Gina, along with her brother and parents vehicle, were all lost in the flood. 

She wanted to make a decision to ask Jesus into her life, to be her Savior, and sounded so confident when I told her that she can have this gift and personal relationship. Gina stated that she feels guilty every Sunday because she's not involved or connected with any church. It was so AMAZING that she did not hesitate to receive this free gift and stated that she wanted to accompany her brother in attending a training course to become a disaster relief reservist. She was and is a changed woman forever! - Lisa (Outreach Pastor + Rock Church Chaplain)


Meet Renee who has been serving Hurricane Harvey survivors for 3 weeks now in Dickinson, Texas. We worked on Valery Blanton's home today as she has been patiently waiting for the crew to show up. We removed the contents from one room as many of the items were damaged and needed to be discarded. Drywall was removed as well. It was a pretty quick job. She was extremely thankful. It's bittersweet as this was my last day of service here in Houston. What a joy and honor it has been serving and loving on the people from the Great State of Texas! Thank you, Jesus and Rock Church for the awesome opportunity! 


Meet Michelle Urban. Both her parents are elderly. One is in a nursing home and the other is now living with her. Michelle is an only child and was just overwhelmed from everything that has taken place since the flooding. She told me that she did not know how to pray or talk to God. So Michelle was excited to learn that she had an opportunity to personally know Him. I led her through the salvation prayer on her mother's front lawn and she accepted Jesus Christ into her life. 

Days earlier, her mom was rescued by helicopter and was nowhere to be found for the next four days following the epic flooding in Houston and surrounding areas. 

She was eventually found in a shelter. Her beloved yellow lab of 13 years was displaced as well. A good Samaritan found him wondering around days after the hurricane. He had a chip but it was registered to the original owner, a woman who lived three hours away. 

After being rescued, someone took the dog to a top-notch animal hospital and they worked on him for days to save the four-legged canine. Unfortunately, the dog did not recover and passed away. Michelle's mom was crushed! Her home and companion were both lost. 

This story came from the Bayou Chantilly area of Dickinson Texas. 


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