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Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response – Who is My Neighbor?

Harvey-Disaster-Photo

All eyes are on Texas as America experiences one of the worst natural disasters  to beset America (some say of biblical proportions). We pray and act, giving our time, talent, and treasure to help thousands who are suffering from this catastrophe on the Gulf Coast. We all can help. Our Lord said so! The gospel message in Luke 10:30-37 is clear. In his recent newsletter on Hurricane Harvey, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recommends readers support worthy relief organizations like Samaritan’s Purse.

Samaritan’s Purse is one of these wonderful organizations. They are collecting donations to mobilize disaster relief teams to the hardest hit areas in Texas. They have already sent two disaster relief units our way and are planning to send three more.

Click here to learn more about their efforts or to make a donation. They are also asking for volunteers to help their efforts, to learn more about volunteering, click here.

Catholic Charities USA is the official domestic relief agency of the US Catholic Church. Your donation to CCUSA’s Disaster fund will help provide resources for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief operations. Click here.

This  letter below by Pastor Warren Beemer detailing what you can do to help is worthy of your attention.

Disaster Relief Action Letter

Dear Pastors and Ministry Leaders,

Over the past two days I’ve been able to meet with the Red Cross and several area pastors to help organize an effective plan for mobilizing the churches of San Antonio to meet the needs caused by Hurricane Harvey.

First let me give Thanks and a Praise report from the last letter I sent out.  All items needed for Mark Roye, and Blood and Fire Ministries to start feeding breakfast at Ground Zero in Rockport Texas were supplied and we were able to send out a trailer with generators, cords, gas cans and $500 cash for gas and other food and supplies.  Thank you , Pastors, for jumping to the call.  We already have one more generator that has been donated to use during outreaches to the affected areas next week.  More on that later in this email.

LOCAL INSIDE SAN ANTONIO:
As far as in our own city since we received no physical damage from the storm. The only pressing need that’s in our city is to serve those who our city is a refuge for.  This is happening almost completely through the Red Cross and the need they have at the Red Cross in serving these victims is enormous.  With that being said they’ve given us three areas where the church can help them meet the need.

RED CROSS SHELTER VOLUNTEER:
There are thousands of people being brought from the South Texas Coast and Houston and all areas in between to Red Cross shelters right here in San Antonio. These Red Cross shelters are the only lifeline that separates them from being homeless.  The Red Cross volunteers are being asked to do a varied list of general tasks to support  the facility such as room monitors, kitchen staff, laundry staff, load in/load out, etc…

How do I serve at the SHELTER?

  • You are going to sweat, serve food, pick up stuff, etc…
  • Physical Labor, Monitoring, General help
  • Get online at www.RedCross.org to register to serve (complete background check, and then they will schedule a time for you to come for the 1 hour training)
    • Shelter/General Volunteer training – Saturday morning Saturday, 10:00 – 11:00 am at Community Bible Church – General Volunteer Training
      • [No childcare provided]
      • 1 Hour Training – prior to being deployed to a shelter site
      • Remember – we may have more people who are trained and ready to go but you might not be needed.  Our obedience is in saying “Here am I, send Me.”  As God needs us, He will deploy us.
  • Shelter volunteers must be 18 years old & Older
  • 4 hour shifts in a shelter to serve.
  • BIG NEED for “Room Monitors” to make sure children and adults are safe.

SPIRITUAL CARE PROVIDERS:

These are people who are willing to walk in the role of a Pastor in these shelters by walking amongst the people, praying for them, listening to them offering the hope and encourage their faith in the Lord.  This is not the time to preach to someone with words but rather to present the Gospel through the actions of care that we do in the moment.  Requirements for a Special Care Provider is that they go through a three hour training class and a special background check.  This will certify the Special Care Provider as in Red Cross Volunteer in this area for the three years.

Spiritual Care Providers  – these are the people w/in the Body of Christ who are Pastors or have a Pastors at Heart.  (Pastors, Staff, Deacons, Elders, and Leaders)

  • Focus on moving around the shelter hearing stories, praying for people, loving people, encouraging people, etc…
  • 3 hour training required prior to being deployed into a Shelter.
    • $3 … for 3 hours … for 3 years worth of qualification for any relief in the state of Texas
    • TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES:
      • Friday morning 9:00 am – 12:00 noon Friday capped at 40 people (first come first serve, so call/text Dan Franklin ASAP at 210-842-8221)
      • San Antonio Baptist Association 5807 Interstate 10 West Frontage Rd, San Antonio, TX 78201      Office Phone (210) 525-9954
      • Saturday from 9:00 – 12:00 pm at Community Bible Church at 2477 N. Loop 1604 E., SATX  78232.
        • No pre-registration needed, but you do need to complete the background check and registration w/ Red Cross.  Email Dan Franklin at DanRFranklin@gmail.com for the background form.  (this form is different than a shelter volunteer due to the accessibility and coverage needed)
  • KEN HICKS will coordinate w/ specific churches and Volunteers to Delegating the shift work for the 5 Shelters (we want to make sure we try to get churches/volunteers to the location closest to your campus, but also make sure all locations have Spiritual Care Providers)
  • You’ll be able to meet Ken Hicks at the Spiritual Care Provider Training at CBC on Saturday at 9AM

What if we cannot attend Saturday?  This is our only opportunity for Large Group Training at this time.  You can still go to www.RedCross.org and complete the background check.  Once completed by Red Cross, they will contact you for training at their location.

Red Cross Headquarters Service Teams:

These opportunities are to serve the staff and teams that make the whole plan run.  We will be serving food and encouragement to the volunteer base that has flown in from around the nation to organize and facilitate the recovery operations her in San Antonio.

How do I serve at the RED CROSS HEAD QUARTERS?

This is a great place for people to serve who might need a one time place to serve.  No background check needed to serve at Red Cross HQ.

  • Food / Hospitality
  • Serving about 50 people
  • People coming to SA from all over the country to serve our city
  • Need restaurants, donors, etc… so please connect your contacts to Mel.
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
    • 8:00 am
    • 11:30 am
    • 4:45 pm
  • Needs to be dropped off if at all possible.
    • Volunteers can go pick-up food and bring back to Red Cross if restaurant/donor cannot deliver.
  • Small tangible way to make  HUGE contribution w/o high commitment.
  • Church Groups could sponsor a meal or day at HQ.  (Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, BBQ teams, etc…)

CONTACT:  Mel –  210-697-7052 for information on how to serve meals at the Headquarters.

CHILDREN PROGRAMMING:  CONTACT:  Gilbert Hernandez – Youth for Christ 210-697-7052

This is an awesome place to involve Children’s Ministry Leaders, Sports Ministry Leaders, Teachers, Coaches, etc…   The children are begging for something to be engaged either in the evening, weekends, or during the day.  We’re hoping to provide a variety of options for each shelter.

  • Faith Neutral Programming – Bible Lite so to speak – especially for kids (Youth for Christ)
  • NEED: Pre-School & Elementary Expertise – contact Gilbert
  • Backyard Bible Club kind of ministry
  • Sports Camp

SPANISH SPEAKING VOLUNTEERS:

Some have inquired about the need for dual-language.  Our hope is to make sure as we schedule ministry teams, we have folks on the ground who can communicate w/ people who only speak Spanish.  Thank you for your help. We’ll make a note on your intake forms so we can help w/ scheduling.

Hosting Shelter guest at your Church:  

You can pick up folks and take them to a gathering of worship on your campus (we cannot host a worship experience a the shelter site).

    • At your Worship Experience you can:
      • Pray specifically over them
      • Feed them
      • Love them
      • Provide Children’s Programming w/ the children
      • Etc…
      • BUT … transportation, check-in systems, meals, etc… are all the host church’s responsibility.
    • Need a one page handout to distribute to the folks in the shelter

How to Give?  How can I donate resources that we know will be most effective?

Our partnership w/ the Red Cross SA allows us to engage in the HOPE of Jesus while meeting physical needs.

  • You can bring bottled water or gift card donations or Wal-Mart or HEB to Cornerstone Church or Community Bible Church and they will handle collection and distribution, which can alleviate stress from the system and your staff if you desire.
  • FOOD – non perishable items, diapers, formula, are all to be dropped off at SA Food Bank. You    can serve/volunteer at the SA Food Bank to sort and prepare meals.
  • CLOTHING – all clothing donations are to be dropped off at the Salvation Army.You can serve/volunteer at the Salvation Army to sort and put clothing on racks/boxes    to be able to be distributed by size/gender to those in need.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Leverage your faith community (your church) to begin to engage.
    • Have everyone who desires to serve w/ Red Cross complete background check (either shelter volunteer or spiritual care provider)
  2. Leverage your Pastoral Network to engage other Bodies of Christ in this process.
    • Now that we have a plan (at least of how to start), let’s engage our brothers and sisters in this journey with us.
  3. Leverage your online and social media presence to spread the word.  Let’s invite the city to participate.
    • We Are:  The Faith Community Coming Together – How can we serve Best?

OUTSIDE SAN ANTONIO:

Efforts outside of San Antonio are being set up now for churches and volunteers who are able to leave and work in the communities that have been directly affected.

Rockport and Surrounding Area:

At this moment we are not able to house large groups in Rockport area but are expecting that to change.  We have a team going down to Rockport Thursday to be boots on the ground.  They will survey the situation, and come back with a timeline and strategy for how we can effectively and efficiently serve together.  We will probably be sending cooking teams, clean up teams and pastoral care teams along with truckloads of water, blankets, clothes, gift cards and other general supplies.  Right now Cornerstone Church is collecting bulk supplies to make near future shipments to the affected areas.  Please feel free to take any donations to the bus barn at Cornerstone Church.

Houston and Surrounding Area:

The Water has not receded to the point that we are able to adequately access how we can be of service at this time.  We do have people from churches in San Antonio, with their boats and four wheel drive vehicles rescuing people as we speak.  We also have make church contacts we will be working through in the coming months.  Please be prepared to help assist with teams from your church to be involved in the Houston recovery as it opens up to us.  We will be sending an advance team there as soon as it’s available.

We will be meeting Saturday from 8am to 9am at Community Bible Church before the trainings to further discuss deployment and future actions the Body of Christ can work on together.

There are more details to come. For any questions, please feel free to contact me personally @ (210)392-6157.

Thank you for joining with us in being the Hands and Feet of our Lord and Savior to a city in need!

It’s a good day!

Pastor Warren Beemer

[Warren Beemer serves as the Lead Pastor of Healing Place Church San Antonio  and the Founder of Dream Center San Antonio.]

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