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Tropical storm leaves 37 churches in urgent/critical need in Houston


HOUSTON (BP)–Among Baptist churches in Houston, floodwater from Tropical Storm Allison swarmed into the facilities of 37 congregations.

A list of those congregations is on the Union Baptist Association’s website, www.ubahouston.org, under its “What’s New” section. The Houston-based association’s offices also were destroyed by five feet of flooding.

The association is encouraging concerned Baptists across the country to contact any of the hard-hit churches directly to offer assistance.

Listed as having extreme urgent needs, according to the UBA website, are:

— Grace Mission; contact: Wilson Garcia, (281) 469-2805 — two buildings demolished.

— Iglesia Bautista Alabanza; Nestor Guevara, (281) 821-4000 — lost everything.

— John Ralston United Baptist; Mark Standridge, (713) 703-8918 — extensive damage to church facilities and homes of almost every member.

— New Life Community Church; Eddie Deckard, (713) 635-2399 — extensive damage; lost everything; three feet of water in the building.

— Parkway Baptist; Elbert White, (713) 455-4083 — extensive damage.

— Primera Kinwood; Mike Valerio, (281) 449-0401 — extensive damage; lost everything.

— Templo Cristo Te Llama; Erasto Luna (Spanish) or Mary Guzman (English), (281) 466-1520 — complete flooding of church facility and pastor’s home.

— Timbergrove; A.M. Stone, (713) 462-3336 — every building flooded; congregation of senior citizens.

Other churches are facing needs described on the website as critical. “Many of these churches received flood damage which exceeds their limited resources and/or have aging congregations unable to cope with the extensive clean-up required,” the association notes. “Many need a sister church to partner with them in clean-up and recovery.”

Additionally, interested church groups can contact two Houston churches that are coordinating volunteer relief efforts: Second Baptist, (713) 465-3408, and Tallowood Baptist, (713) 468-8241.

Union Baptist Association also has organized a family assistance task force to provide $250 grants to families in need in Allison’s wake. Additional UBA initiatives are underway to provide financial aid to congregations with damaged facilities and to aid the association itself reestablish its offices in a new location.

In an open letter to pastors in the Union Baptist Association, director of missions Tom Billings wrote, “Already many folks have partnered with us. The Baptist General Convention of Texas and Southern Baptists of Texas have provided funds to help … . Several associations across the state have promised to send money.”

Among the ways Baptists can respond, Billings wrote, is through prayer. “Pray for those in great need. Pray for God to provide the needed resources. Pray that God will use this to bring the church in the city together, to advance his kingdom cause, and to bring spiritual transformation to our city,” he urged.

To pastors of Houston-area churches that escaped damage, Billings wrote, “Above all, don’t wait to be asked [to help]. … Ask God what he would have you do. Take the initiative to help others.”

Billings said churches can:

— “Take a special offering to help families and churches in Houston. Send the money to UBA [2060 N. Loop West, Houston, 77018]. Designate how it is to be used. We will use it as you designate and provide full accountability for every dollar.

— “Organize construction teams to help rebuild churches and/or parsonages. …

— “Help us with resource people. You may have people in your congregation that can help through their business. One person called and offered 20 computers for churches who lost their equipment. You may have someone in your company that can donate building supplies, office furniture or office equipment. We will serve as a clearinghouse if you will contact us with these resources.

“These are difficult days,” Billings wrote, “but I believe God has already put all the resources we need in the hands of his people. Let us be good stewards of that which God has entrusted to us.”

Concerning Allison’s impact on the association’s offices, Billings recounted that they “were also completely destroyed in the flooding. Everything was lost. Preliminary estimates indicate it will cost at least $250,000 to re-establish our offices. This does not include things like the media center or conference equipment.”

By order of the Environmental Protection Agency, the associational staff will not be able to enter its damaged offices in a multi-building complex until the first week of July or later.
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(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: GOD’S REMINDER.