Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ike Day 15

I asked Kevin Watterson, one of our long term Crisis Response staffer's to post his thoughts on the day...

Saturday – we had several volunteers who came from Austin for a second weekend of work here in Galveston. Jobs today included the removal of the contents from Shaya ‘s apartment, the removal of sheetrock and flooring from Mark and Rayetta’s home and the continuation of mud removal and power washing the building dubbed “the Smithsonian” . We gave it that name because of its steam engine and line shaft power transfer assembly, which hangs from the ceiling and is still in operational order according to John Weber, the owner of the former Island Lumber and Millwork circa 1908 building.

The Smithsonian will soon be a bustle of activity as donated items come rolling in by pick-up , van, and tractor-trailer. These items will be given to returning Islanders who need them to restart life. As they come in need of stuff, we want to be there to offer them hope in their immediate need as well as the Eternal Hope only offered through Jesus Christ.

For 2 hours or so, Mark and I joined two of the members of the Austin team who needed help getting the heavy items out of the apartment of a Texas A&M Grad student named Shaya. She had just moved into her apartment a few weeks before Hurricane Ike hit, and hadn’t even gotten her things unpacked from the move before Ike came to visit. Ike was not a friendly house guest. Her 1st floor apartment had 3 feet of water in it, which ruined almost all of her meager possessions including her car . She had parked it at a friend’s house in hopes that it would be safer there. It had more water in it than her apartment had so it is a total loss as well. We carried out her sofa, her water logged mattress and box spring and her now rusted bed frame. When we tried to remove her dresser, it fell apart into small pieces. We were able to salvage her top 2 drawers and the clothes that were in them, and a few pieces of jewelry and glassware. The rest of her things are now in a heap near the apartment complex dumpster, waiting to be hauled off to the landfill.

We drove by the landfill today, and it is already 4-5 stories high. The newspaper article I read today said that there are expected to be 120,000 mattresses (approximately 3 per household) piled in amongst the 1.5 million cubic yards of debris. A small dumpster can hold 3 yards of trash.

One of the images that hit me particularly hard today was the sight of a debris hauler with stuffed animals attached to the grille of his truck, and more lining the side of the container he was hauling. How many kids don’t have their favorite stuffed animal anymore? How many households were represented by these displaced symbols of love and security? How many more will be attached to his truck in the weeks and months that follow?

At Mark and Rayetta’s home, the debris has yet to be picked up. The pile there is 6 ft high and covers all of the front yard near the street in front of their 3 bedroom rancher. We removed the contents yesterday and were taking out all of the sheetrock on the walls up to the ceiling today. The pile of debris grows ever larger with each trip of the wheelbarrow. The hardwood floors had buckled severely, and there was no saving it. It too will be added to the ever rising piles of rubble.

Driving around the island is becoming almost more than the mind can conceive and comprehend. The piles of possessions, clothes, furniture and unsalvageables on every street cover the now brown yards and make the sidewalks impassable. It’s like driving through a never ending landfill. The smells are potent, the pain is deep and the uncertainty for some is overwhelming.

My brightest spot all day was when Officers Martin and Horton showed up at the church to sign their requests for work to be done at their homes. The Police and other first responders have been so busy that they have not been able to work at cleaning out or gutting their own homes. They are relying on help from others to get that job done. For me to hear their stories of slogging through thigh deep water to check out their homes after the waters receded somewhat and to have the chance to see that spark of hope in their eyes knowing we are here to help them, and that we, the church care for them even if they haven’t ever attended Galveston Bible Church put the other depressing scenes of the day in Perspective for me.

Several of us gathered around them and prayed for them asking God specifically for the volunteers that are needed to gut their homes so they can move on to the next stage of recovery. Could you be that answer to prayer? God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ike Day 14 - Gutting

We welcomed back the team from First EFC Austin today and implemented our strategy of continuing work on recovery on the Galveston Bible Church; in-reach, caring for the many needs in the Body; and outreach into the community. The church office area and the building we are planning to use as a distribution center were attacked today for clean out. The offices were the last part of the church that had yet to be touched.

The outreach part of the team went to serve the family of a Galveston PD officer. He has been working long days and has not been able to help. this was the first day they could get things out of the house. The smell in the house was overpowering. mold had grown several fee up the walls. The Grandma, pictured above, wrote down serial numbers of all the electronic equipment.

Raynette, the wife, spoe with us at length about the emotion struggle she faced each day. she confided that she really could only think of a very short time frame into the future, like an hour or two. She had no idea where they where going to live. She teared up as she looked at the pile in the street and said. "That's all my life in that pile. It's 26 years of my kids lives. All gone."

We prayed for her and her family before we left. The team will go back tomorrow to gut out the drywall.

The Part of the team also headed to clean out the contents of a church member, and found a neighborhood filled with significantly flooded homes, and a variety of languages being spoken. The team, pictured below, spent a lot of time out talking with neighbors, and getting more requests for help in cleaning out homes. The home next door had an opened refrigerator was an 8.5 on the gagmeter. We'll work on that one tomorrow. We also got a list of about a dozen police officer families and some elderly people who are desperate for help. We pray that volunteers will come to help more in this neighborhood.

We were also surprised to have found that a quick conversation with a local reporter turned into a Section B front page story in the Galveston County Daily News.... clik here to read more.. about the Texas Chainsaw Missionaries.

and news from Houma...

It’s late, but I wanted to let you know how God is at work here in southern Louisiana. Yesterday as we were working on a couple of trees for a lady who is a nurse in Houma, she offered to get our team lunch. As we were enjoying Po-boys, a young African American man named Derrick came up to us and started talking. He asked a few questions about where we were from, and then commented on our shirts. He said he could see that we really live out what they say. For those of you who don’t know, printed on the back of our shirts is, “Showing the love of Christ to those in need”. He said he could sense that love and began to share with us how he was going to go back to his church and tell them about what he had seen and experienced and encourage them to get out into their community and do the same. He also shared with us that he felt he had a calling to the ministry, but there were a few things of the world that still had a grip on him. Please pray for Derrick that God would transform him and renew his mind. And pray for me; I got contact information for him, and plan to follow up with him to see how I might be able to encourage him in his walk with God.

Today as we served on Acklen Street again, I had a conversation with Jewel on her front porch. She was telling me that she was really lucky that we were clearing a large tree from her back yard and garage. She thought that it was just fate that she crossed paths with us. I assured her that I believed that God had appointed us to serve her today. She looked at me a little oddly, but I believe God used that in her life. Pray that God will continue to enable us to plant and water seeds of the Gospel as we serve here in Houma.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ike Day 13 - the WALL

A high school student from Trinity Fellowship (EFCA) edited this video to help you understand the (click on->) aftermath of Ike. Wish we could add the smell to accompany the video.

Today was one of the days that we really saw so many people hitting the WALL. All those that have been impacted by Ike and that have been living in it since day one are spent. The adrenelin is gone. Debris piles are slowly starting to line the streets. The emotions tell on their faces. Relationships are strained. Families separated. Paychecks absent. Businesses ruined. MRE's old. Musquitos ferocious. Days hot. Bodies tired.

Some are just arriving back. They have a glassed over look, trying to comprehend it all. Kel Vaugh, the pastor of Bridge Community Church, a church plant on Galveston island was back today. He is still trying to connect with all his congregation, and is unsure just now of the ministry future. His parents house had 4+ feet of water in it. Many homes have been shut up now for 2 weeks, producing lots of foul odors and moldy posessions

I was again out on the streets today asking God again for forklift to unload the 500 clean-out supply filled buckets we got delivered today. I did find the same kind souls from the power company to help us. but along the way, I met Greg, the haggared owner of a car parts store. He was trying to do what he could to save things out of his business, but there was little the water did not destroy. He did not say it, but I read the pain and saw the fear of the near future on his face... the what do I do now and how am I going to pay the bills look. I needed a fork lift, and he had one, but I knew that God had me stop in his parking lot for Greg, not for the fork lift. Greg was swallowing hard to keep back tears as we prayed for his future, for peace and God providing his daily bread.
Galveston Bible Church has one more day tomorrow of debris removal. The pile at the end of the day today is pictured. FEMA can by and removed most of it this evening.

Teams are coming to help tomorrow from First EFC Austin and Legacy Bible, as well as a team from Coasthills Community Church to set up the food/supply distribution ministry, know as 'Laborer's Fruit, a ministry of Galveston Bible Church'. We are praying for a great out reach to the poorer community that is near the church, but also to so many thatw e expect will be at the very edge for a long while as they rebuild.

Pray for the Pastor (Clay) and Elders of Galveston Bible, pictured here at their evening elder meeting today. They are trying to get their own homes cleaned, minister to an entire congregation impacted by Ike, keep up their families while wives and kids are having to live out of town,and tend to their businesses, and they are out serving all the time. Pray for Pastor Kel and the church plant. Pray for Pastor's Bob, Chad, Garrett, and Mike, all of who had their congregations, and most all their facilites impacted.

Come to Texas and make a difference in supporting these churches and their passionate desire to reach out to their communities after the hurricane. Email hurricane relief to send a team and click on the link on the right side of this blog to give.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

GBC in the News
click above link for an article on Galveston and a picture of Galveston bible and one of our awesome volunteers. ml

Ike Day 12 and 11

This is the picture at the end of the day today in front of Galveston Bible shelves, carpet, crib, nursery toys, kitchen appliances, and sanctuary seating are all now in the trash pile. We still have to clean out and gut the library and church office area. The humidity is so high it is now starting to warp the wood floors. Kevin spent a frustrating day trying to get the flooded AC units back into operation. To the parts store tomorrow for some major AC equipment expenses.

At the end of the day, we found a middle aged lady, named Elizabeth trying to get her garage cleaned out. She had all the contents out by the time we got there, and was trying to wash out the mud with no success. We brought over a power washer, and blasted the floor for an hour trying to get whatever the slippery, brown/black goo was that had affixed itself to the concrete removed.

We stayed overnight on the island last evening (Tues.), sleeping on the floor of Arnold and Julie Horst"s RV. We had AC via generator but no internet so no post yesterday.

Tuesday morning I was able to catch up on the earthquake relief ministry we have going on in China. Tuesday afternoon we had our first tractor trailer delivery of goods for the distribution ministry. We had a skid loader lined up through I-TEC, our ministry partner supplying all our generators (they need CDL drivers-email if you have a CDL and time or whenever). But their equipment broke down and we again got to see God at work. As the tractor trailer driver was waiting, I hoped into a pick and started off through Galveston literally praying 'Lord I need a forklift'. after driving up and down a number of streets, i came upon a CenterPointe Energy substation, and in the parking lot was a really big, orange heavy duty pettibone, essentially a giant fork lift. I asked for the supervisor, told him we needed his pettibone 8 streets away at the church to unload our truck.
He looked at me real hard, looked at my card, and said, 'You're with the church right?'.
'Yes sir', was my reply.
'Well OK then come on'. And they came on with the pettibone, and operator, a supervisor in his truck, and a giant line truck and driver. They unloaded, flagged traffic, and even looked at our electric who knows, maybe electricity will come soon, but God's power and provision continues without fail.

Ministry also continues in Houma with our team in LA. John Horst wrote:

We have been working in Houma for three weeks now, mostly doing tree removal, and as we drive down the streets of this city, almost every street has piles of tree debris lining it. There are still many who have a need for tree removal, but more importantly, a need for Christians to demonstrate the love of Christ to them in tangible ways.

We had an amazing day of connecting with people on Acklen Street. Quite a few of them are members of a little Baptist church around the corner. A couple of the families worked together to make us lunch and dinner. Red beans and rice is quite popular here. Not only did we bring it along with us for dinner last evening, but we had for lunch and dinner today as well! We are thankful for God’s clear provision. I had an opportunity to chat with a man who had some branches that needed to be cleared out of his yard. As we spoke, I realized there was a need for another type of clearing that was needed. He seemed to have some distorted views of the church. At first I was just listening, but then he started asking questions. Well, when God opens a door of opportunity, He does want us to walk through, right? So I shared with him that relationship with God was based on truth rather than feelings. I told him that church attendance was not a requirement, but that is was good for our spiritual growth. I’m hopeful that God will use my words to cause him to seek more truth. Would you pray for that as well? Would you consider coming to serve with us here in the city of Houma?

God continues to direct our steps and do some amazing things in our lives and the lives of those we serve. We trust that you are experiencing His presence and power in your lives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ike Day 10

We were blessed today to be able to send our first team out to Houma. A group from Lake Meade Christian Academy (NV) flew in over the weekend, to be joined by a team from Cornerstone EFC (PA). They engaged to day in more tree cutting work and some great relational ministry in the neighborhood.

God also opened doors for several radio interviews, I believe in response to the often uttered prayer by our Crisis Response staff, Mt 9:38... 'ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest field.' I was on a regional program in Southern LA on Saturday, and then on Family Life Radio and Mission News Network today. Kevin Watterson will be on two regional stations in PA this week. Our message is the same...send New Orleans to continue the still unfinished Katrina rebuilding work, but also to help with the huge clean-up and recovery following Ike. Email to send a team...and meanwhile, Pray Mt. 9:38. Also, tell others that there is a huge need that is largely going unnoticed.

I attended a VOAD meeting in Houston today. VOAD is an umbrella for all agencies involved in responding to crises. We were the only ministry there that reported on doing anything along the lines of physical helpwith clean-up. One other non-profit has some heavy equipment in the area helping local government, and we are aware that folks from some local congregations are doing this sort of work, but certainly the indication is that the resources for helping with the clean-up and recovery are woefully short in comparison to the need.

In a conversation this morning, I told Arnold Horst, one of our team in TX,that we really really need to pray for God to raise up workers /help for this response. After hanging up, Arnold immediately got all around to pray accordingly. He told me then shortly thereafter he ‘happened’to find some guys out front of Galveston Bible Church who were looking for a partner to connect with. Arnold told this guy that he was our answer to prayer and got me his number. I met the guy at a gas station up in Houston along I-45. He is going back to his church in CA today to start trying to raise up teams to come Galveston. We have a need; we pray; God answers; He builds our faith....

Waushara EFC (WI) is filling up a truckload of supplies to drive down Friday. It will come at a critical time, just as residents of Galveston are returning to their homes. Praise God as He supplys our daily bread.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ike Day 9 - The Human Side

I though it important that as you read on about the response to Ike, that you don't forget that this storm has dramatically affected people's live. Read more about the effects of the storm at
Galveston Bible Church's blog.

The pictures here are from Houma. Homes there are still under water.... 9 days later.

Consider joining the response team!
Consider setting up multiple teams for sequential months.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ike Day 8 - Transition

It is surreal almost. No it really is surreal. Kevin Watterson and I are in our respective homes this evening, having conversations with our wives and playing with our kids. Normal life.

A few hours ago we were working with a chain saw team to drop a large and complicated tree from a storm victim's yard. A few hours before that, we were getting almost 40 volunteers from Grace Bible (EFC) and others out to serve approximately a dozen families today.

The transition from crisis zone, where most people still don't have power; MRE's are eaten several times a week if not daily; Naps come in the chair in the tire store waiting for repairs on yet another blown skid loader trailer tire (see needs list - we still need tires!); families are wondering when they will be able to see their home filled with sodden belongings and mud;...the transition from the crisis zone to 'normal life' is interesting.

As we flew out from Houston, we flew over the areas that we have been serving in. We flew over the Bolivar Peninsula, and could see entire towns wiped out and huge areas of debris. The weather was bad in LA, so we could not see the still flooded houses in Terrebone Parish.

What are your plans for the weekend? The elders of Galveston Bible Church, and some of our team now living on the island, will worship on the church steps tomorrow and then put on their mud boots for more clean up work, trying to restore some aspect of normalcy to life... like a spot on the floor where you can clearly see the hardwood through the mud. Julie Horst worked an entire day yesterday to clean one bathroom that had been previously mudded out. Please consider investing one of your weeks, or weekends even, in serving your Brothers and Sisters in need. Email to send a team.

I have experienced the transition many times now, but the stark contrasts of life continue to shape me and reinforce my conviction that God has wired and equipped and placed me exactly where He wants me.
I had a fun experience as well today. I got to clear tree debris alongside Jim Dutton, NASA Astronaut. What a great humble and servant hearted guy. Check out his bio.

We will be going dark on the blog for a day as the Crisis Response team unplugs tomorrow. ml

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ike Day 7

We started working to day on getting the mud and soaked debris out of a church member's business in Galveston. He is going to let us use his building as a supply /distribution center. We will hopefully, prayerfully start truckloads of donated food, equipment, cleaning supplies and construction materials to help those in need.
The front part of the building will be a community ministry/resource center. We are expecting our first tractor trailer delivery Wednesday morning!
Email if you could arrange for the bulk donation of needed supplies. For a list of needed supplies go to .

Teams have been in this week from Bayshore Bible Church (TX), Living Word EFC (TX), Valley EFC (IA), and Wayside Chapel (TX). We are starting to get calls from other churches as they begin to hear the first hand reports of the storms impact on friends and family located on the island. We are ready to receive teams to help with setting up our 'base camp' and cleaning out the church and members/community homes. To send a team, email

The team from IA reported today that a man who they helped today expressed how he did not attend church now, but that he really wants to be apart of church. We'll be getting the church planting pastor from Oak Creek EFC connected with him.

A police officer aproached Jon, and elder at Galveston Bible today. The day prior, as we were discussing ministry opportunities, we discussed trying to serve the police, as they are working super long shifts and can never get to their needs at home. He asked her if she needed help working on police homes,and her jaw dropped. she said that one hour before he superior had tasked her with what she thought was the impossible task of finding help for accomplishing exactly that. Jon told me this and I immediately made connection with Captain Cox, a leader in the ministry called Police Officers for Christ. He is now working on having police officers from around the region come to Galveston to help their fellow oficers in the name of Christ. God is already opening doors for the Gospel. ml

I smelled a rotten refrigerator today. yuck.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike Day 6

Houma, LA - Pictured is Miss Otis, a 95 year old lady who we served on Monday afternoon. In the background you can see what used to be her shed. The very large live oak tree that landed on top of it was not kind to the roof or the contents. After working there Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning,John Horst was able to reinstall her clothes line. He got a huge smile and a “God bless you!” He assured her that He already has. But her smile made his efforts well worth the sweat and poison. Serving people who express such gratitude over simple pleasures is joy.

We see much potential for ministry on Miss Otis’ street. Already we have been contacted by three others on the street with the need for tree cutting. And as we say here at Crisis Response, when someone makes a request like this what we hear them saying is, “Can you stick eight or ten missionaries in a vehicle and send them over here to tell me about Jesus?” So we look forward to the doors of opportunity God will continue to open in this neighborhood. Please pray that God will give our volunteers wisdom and boldness in proclaiming the Gospel. Pray for General Smith, Miracle, Tonie, and Taquel, as well as others on the street with whom we will be interacting.

Today we had the opportunity to serve another law enforcement officer with the Terrebone Parish Sherriff’s department. He shared with us that this was his first day off in 20 days, and he has been working 16-18 hr. shifts. He goes back to work tomorrow for at least five more days. He is worn out, but continues to serve his community and was grateful for our assistance in cutting up a tree on his property.

As we were finishing up on his property, his neighbor came over and asked how much we charged. We told him there was no fee, we were just volunteer workers sharing the love of Christ with people. He asked if we could help him with a couple of limbs that had broken out of a tree on his property. Three hours later, we drove away from that site. They were big limbs!

Texas - We spent a lot of time today with Galveston Bible Church leaders planning the logistics for being able ti receive and distribute supplies, house volunteer teams and manage tools and equipment. A great plan was birthed, and we will be praying to see that come together. We will be setting generators at the church and several other key locations to facilitate the response. We also received 2 more of our team, with a trailer full of tolls for clean up related work.

Neighborhood ministry continued to flow out of Trinity Fellowship, and Oak Creek Bible, both of Friendswood, TX, with three tree crews of volunteers and a church planting pastor, and a team of church members gutting another members home.

There is such a mission field that has been created in Houma and Texas. We understand that already not much of this is being seen on the news. But please pray that the people of Houma Southen TX will not be forgotten. And pray as well that God will send forth laborers into this field that is ready for harvest. ml