The members of Bellaire UMC have been devastated by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey, but that has not stopped them from doing all they can to comfort and help each other.
A Flood Like No Other
Associate Pastor Jim Love has lived in Houston for 20 years, and he has seen his share of flooding in Bellaire. Just three years ago his parsonage flooded, so when Hurricane Harvey roared toward Houston, Love put all of his furniture up on six-inch blocks. He was sure it would be more than enough to keep his furnishings from getting wet.
As he fled his home with a few precious keepsakes in his arms on the Saturday night after Harvey hit, the last thing he stopped to do was measure the water line. The flood waters in his home were twenty-five inches deep.
“Usually storms only hit isolated sections of the city,” Love said. “This one hit the entire city and sat on top. People were trying to get in to help us, but they couldn’t because the river was flooding on one side, and the reservoirs were overflowing on the other side.”
Saturday evening as Love and his family sheltered at their next-door neighbor’s house, which had been built to withstand a thousand-year flood, he observed the eerie devastation all around him. Everywhere he looked, he saw water. Insects began climbing up the trees to safety. Next door at his home, a stray cat was asleep under the gables of the roof. All creatures, it seemed, were moving to higher ground.
Loving and Serving Each Other
Once the flood waters receded, church members ventured out to help one another begin cleaning out their homes. They comforted each other. Put on pots of coffee. Lead Pastor Sean Duffin created online sign-up sheets where members could request help, or offer to give it. Church members who owned Airbnb rentals offered shelter to those who were displaced. Even months after the flood, some of those homes continue to provide shelter for those who lost everything.
Pastor Love finds tremendous comfort in the way his church has come together in selfless service under the most difficult of circumstances. He shares the story of one member of his church family, a man who reached out to offer what little he had with those in need.
“This guy was incarcerated for a long time. Now he is getting his life back on track. Bellaire, where the church is and where most of our members live, is an upscale area. This gentleman lives in a boarding house across town. When he heard about the flood, he contacted us. He said, ‘Come. It is dry here. I talked to my landlady. She said she wanted to house any of you who needed it.’”
“And it fills my heart with joy,” Love said, “because God’s love knows no bounds.”