By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
HOUSTON, TEXAS (ANS – Aug. 28 2017) – As President Donald Trump travels to Texas tomorrow in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the federal government continues a large-scale emergency response to a storm that one top administration official described as “beyond comparison,” Christian organizations are ramping into high gear with compassionate responses to devastation caused by the storm.
“I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption,” Trump said yesterday. “The focus must be life and safety.”
The president has monitored the developments from Camp David, convening multiple meetings with Cabinet officials and staying in close contact with state leaders. But his focus has also drifted to other issues, such as trade deals, the border wall and a political contest.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency positioned some 490,000 liters of water, 524,000 meals, 20,500 tarps and 60 generators in Texas and Louisiana. Around 5,000 federal employees are working in Texas to assist state and local emergency responders.
Ongoing Federal Support for Hurricane Harvey
On Sunday, President Trump and Vice President Pence led meetings with the Cabinet and senior members of the Administration to discuss ongoing Federal support for Hurricane Harvey response and recovery. The President continued to stress his expectation that all departments and agencies stay fully committed to supporting the Governors of Texas and Louisiana and his number one priority of saving lives. He reminded everyone that search and rescue efforts will transition to mass care, restoring power, providing life-sustaining necessities for the population that sheltered in place, and economic recovery.
President Approves Texas and Louisiana Disaster Declarations
On Friday, President Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Texas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey beginning on August 23, 2017, and continuing.
Today, President Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Harvey beginning on August 27, 2017, and continuing.
According to Forward (http://forward.com) at least five people are reported dead in Houston as rain and winds from Hurricane Harvey hit the city, causing massive flooding as Houston Jewish Community Hit Hard By Hurricane Harvey
“Parts of our community have been impacted by the severe weather of the past two days. We are working with our partner agencies to assess the current situation in our community and determine priority on action items. We will communicate out as soon as we know how best to move forward in the short and long-term,” the Jewish Federation of Houston posted Sunday morning on Facebook.
The Houston JCC announced on Facebook that it would close Friday and remain closed Sunday, with an update Sunday evening. Prior to the hurricane it collected emergency supplies for the community including bottled water, work gloves, packing supplies, plastic storage bins, heavy trash bags, heavy-duty razor blades to rip out wet and damaged carpet, cleaning supplies and gift cards for home repair stores and grocery stores, according to the Texas Jewish Herald-Voice.
The newspaper reported that homes in heavily Jewish populated Houston subdivisions were reporting flooding Sunday morning, for the third time in as many years.
Some 15 inches to 30 inches of rain are expected in the Houston area, South Texas and parts of Louisiana. Thousands remain without power.
“This rain will lead to a prolonged, dangerous, and potentially catastrophic flooding event well into next week,” the National Weather Service said.
As Hurricane Harvey lashed Texas, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains deployed to offer hope and comfort. The Chaplains recently completed ministry in Barcelona following the August terror attack in that city.
Following last night’s landfall of Hurricane Harvey, crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team arrived in Texas this weekend to offer emotional and spiritual care to evacuees, and to assess the areas with the greatest need. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team support vehicles are also en route, with more than 100 additional chaplains standing by as the situation and overall destruction becomes clearer.
“Though we all anticipated the impact of Harvey, there’s no way to overstate the ferocity of a storm like this,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “We’re praying for those who have been devastated by the hurricane, and we’ll be there to offer the hope and comfort of Christ to those who are hurting.”
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is deploying in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian disaster relief organization also headed by Franklin Graham. Together the two ministries will address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those who have been affected.
“As dawn breaks over south Texas, the damage brought by Hurricane Harvey through the night is coming into view with significant flooding still to come. More than 200,000 people are without power. This is the strongest storm to hit the U.S. in more than a decade,” Graham said on his Facebook page this morning. “I know the people of Texas would appreciate your prayers for them during these difficult days.”
The deployment to Texas marks the ministry’s first hurricane response of 2017. Last year, more than 125 trained chaplains ministered to nearly 6,000 people across three areas of North and South Carolina following the impact of Hurricane Matthew.
In addition to the new deployment to Texas, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has been ministering alongside churches in Barcelona since the August 17 terror attack that killed 13 people and injured scores more. That effort is concluding this weekend.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of chaplains in 48 states who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 255 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.
The Gospel Herald (http://www.gospelherald.com) in an article by Leah Marieann Klett (email@example.com that Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi has revealed he was safely evacuated from his home in Houston, Texas amid the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Qureshi, who is battling advanced stomach cancer, has revealed he is safe after he was forced to evacuate his home in Houston amid the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.
“Good news: I was evacuated and am now back at the hospital!” Qureshi posted on Facebook. “My family is still at home, though, please pray the water doesn’t rise any further and that we get power back sooner than later. Thanks!”
A short time earlier, Qureshi, a Muslim convert to Christianity who previously served with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, issued a dire prayer request on his Facebook page along with a photo showing the massive flooding outside of his home. Qureshi explained that his home had lost power and that he had no way of getting back to the hospital. He added that he only had a couple days-worth of formula left for his tube feedings.
“Our garage is taking water, but praise God our house itself is dry for now,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “Please pray for us, for Houston, and for God’s mercy on all those who are being devastated by Harvey.”
Qureshi also shared a video of the flooding around his neighborhood: “We’re here in Houston with these historic floods…I mean this is catastrophic,” he says. “This is pretty bad…please pray for us, please pray for Houston, please pray that the water would stop.”
Qureshi shared a video of the destruction Hurricane Harvey inflicted on his Houston neighborhood.
The evangelist returned home from the hospital on Friday after having his stomach removed as a life-saving measure to prevent him from bleeding to death. Before his release, Qureshi had spent over a month in two different hospitals after a stent placed in his esophagus became lodged in his throat. With his stomach removed, doctors are “now very worried” about his liver, Qureshi said.
“The doctors report that my liver is shot through with cancer right now,” the 34-year-old said in a video posted over the weekend. “If I’m looking a little bit yellow to you it’s because for some reason, they can’t figure it out, my liver won’t calm down.”
“It’s the numbers of certain enzymes just won’t get back to normal and so … I had two separate doctors sit down and explain to me that, ‘Nabeel, if these numbers get worse, you may enter into liver failure and there is nothing we can do for you at that point. That will be the end.'”
“One of them just said, ‘You will die if we don’t fix your liver,'” he added.
Qureshi said that next week, his tube feedings will be cut in half and he will begin consuming soft foods like shakes and smoothies. After that, he will hopefully be able to eat solid foods.
“A large part of the next few weeks is going to be regaining my strength, the ability to walk. I can walk but it’s not easy. The surgery was quite invasive,” he added. “That’s another thing. I am not sure I elaborated [on] in the previous video. The stomach removal was not an attempt to fix the cancer. It was basically a life-saving procedure.”
“We are praying that it was the right choice and that God will bless that decision and that ultimately, He can even work miracles,” Qureshi said, adding that he’s keeping his faith in God no matter what the outcome is.
“I am contending for healing. I am asking God to heal. I believe with all my heart that God has the power to heal in the blink of an eye,” he explained. “But, my faith in God isn’t shaken by whether or not He will heal me. I will believe in God no matter what. I trust him. He is sovereign and I love him.”
In an ADVISORY from The Christian Emergency Network (www.christianemergencynetwork.org), founder Mary Marr issued a call to ALL Christians: “Bring the Ark!”
Marr stated: “As Hurricane Harvey continues to pound Texas and Louisiana with epic rainfall, first responder and private citizen rescue efforts are underway. A response resembling the sea of private rescue boats like the rescue armada of Dunkirk during WWII along with dump trucks capable of moving through 20-50 inches of water are transporting approximately 30,000 people into shelters. Professionals estimate over 450,000 people will be needing disaster assistance over the next weeks and months along with several billions of dollars of damage to infrastructure, homes and businesses. While the total loss of life cannot be measured for several weeks, the U.S. has not seen anything close to this magnitude since Katrina.”
Marr reported that FEMA Administrator Brock Long says over 50 county jurisdictions will be affected.
“He is calling for every TX and LA citizen to listen to local officials and heed warnings. He asks all forms of media to support a nationally-unified and organized local response effort where every citizen assists in some way. He reminds those needing help to contact 1-800-621-FEMA. With all the local physical saving rescue efforts of the Federal, State, Local government along with private citizen response this crisis still begs the question – What should our nation’s local churches do to share the Hope of Christ effectively?”
Marr says that an epic-size rebuilding can only come with the wisdom and good judgment of God (Proverbs 8:12).
“All throughout biblical history in crisis, God calls His people back to Himself, first and foremost. Rebuilding will not take place in an atmosphere of pride, arrogance, corruption or deceit. Rather, sound rebuilding of communities will only come with an attitude seeking the wisdom and good judgment of God. When missionaries founded Corpus Christi many years ago, they envisioned a community founded upon God. Sadly, many in our nation have walked away from that covenant with Him. God is giving Christians just like in the days of Nehemiah another opportunity, just like the missionaries, to rebuild based upon His statutes.”
According to Marr, after September 11, 2001 CEN developed FREE ReadyChristian, ReadyChurch, ReadyCity trainings to help families, churches, and cities agree to: organize around common Christian doctrine; identify community needs together; raise up leaders who facilitate the rebuilding of broken walls; and to be ready and respond, not as ‘event driven institutions’ rather ‘locally driven responsive Christ-like organisms’, where Jesus guides the money, methods, and message!
CEN Advisors, Safety Security Officers and partners are monitoring developments, assessing the damage and needs, collaborating with and responding to partners on the ground, and providing information to the broader CEN to inspire a biblical response to Hurricane Harvey. Given less than 1 percent of churches have their own Ministry Continuity Plans or Emergency Operations Plans in place, CEN will be highlighting key resources during the Harvey response for the Church – those who have taken seriously this yet another “wake up call” from God to their own readiness.
CEN is assisting ReadyChurch and ReadyCity partners who would like to deploy or assist in the direct response. And, CEN is advising local city officials and law enforcement on how best to work together with the faith community in rebuilding. If you have completed ReadyChurch or ReadyCity training, with your Christian ICS team in place, and would like to deploy to TX or LA, please contact CEN. Subject line: Deployment Assistance.
Marr is calling Christians to Pray:
- The tropical storm will not reconstitute in the Gulf bringing more devastation over the next several days.
- Survivors who are still in harm’s way will be rescued and call upon Jesus
- Residents will listen to and heed the warnings of officials
- First responders and citizen rescuers will be safe, efficient and effective in saving lives
- Shelters will be “force multiplied” as the need arises
- Neighbors to help neighbors which Glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ
- Pastors to lead congregations out detachment into a “Real Time Jesus Response”
Marr is asking Christians to Care:
- Donate your time and resources to your local CEN ReadyChurch or ReadyCity Hurricane Harvey response effort.
- Offer to help CEN ReadyTX Advisor Ed Smith who is responding.
- Equip you and your family to respond in any crisis whether large like Hurricane Harvey or small, be a ReadyChristian
- Thank a local first responder, whether they are deploying or not.
- Prepare your team now to respond during the recovery stage, three or four weeks from now, when the media lights are dimming but when the Gospel has the best opportunity of being fruitful.
She is also calling believers to Share:
- Forward CEN advisories for Christian friends and family to become aware, ready and there sharing Christ
- Forward stories how Jesus met a Hurricane survivor at their point of need through all forms of communication to encourage others to seek Jesus for themselves
- Text someone in the affected area, whether survivor or responder, reminding them of a Scripture verse and let them know you are praying for them by name
- Share the Hope of Jesus “even when the earth falls into the sea” (Psalm 138) with anyone who remarks about the pain of Harvey
In order to get started, Marr suggests:
- Go to www.christianemergencynetwork.org
- Download CEN’s FREE ReadyChurch online training
- Contact a CEN Advisor for assistance as needed
Meanwhile, Daniel Henderson, President, Strategic Renewal Int’l, National Director, The 6:4 Fellowship, said: “Hurricane Harvey is being called ‘the storm of the century.’ While we have seen images of devastation on the news reports, it is difficult to imagine the trauma and disruption millions are experiencing right now.”
He continued: “We must PRAY – and we must ACT! You may know that we have a global fellowship of pastors, The 6:4 Fellowship, and dozens of our member churches are in the Houston area. We have already been in communication with some key pastors in the region who are helping to mobilize cooperative relief efforts throughout the area . As you read this notice, they are meeting together to work across all evangelical denominations to create a thoughtful, sustained, on-the-ground strategy to help those who have been devastated by this tragedy.
“While I am grateful for many other organizations that assist in times like this, I am especially committed to work with the CHURCHES in the area who have existing relationships, congregational volunteers, and a passion for the GOSPEL. God has ordained the LOCAL CHURCH to be his hands and feet in such a time as this. Our 6:4 Fellowship churches are all passionately committed to “prayer and the ministry of the Word” and we know this will have a powerful spiritual impact even beyond providing vital physical assistance.”
Henderson stated the ministry has established a fund that will allow its other 6:4 Fellowship churches from around the nation, and donors like you, to partner with these churches in the Houston area. 100 percent of everything you give will be immediately channeled to the anchor churches that are coordinating a gospel response.
Your gift is tax-deductible and ALL funds received will be passed on to these strategic local church efforts being conducted by 6:4 Fellowship congregations.
“We will also be sharing periodic updates and are believing that the Lord will redeem this crisis for his glory and the good of the gospel in South Texas,” Henderson said.
“Thank you for your response as we partner with churches in the Houston area to bring the good news and vital assistance to those who are hurting and hopeless.”
Furthermore, The Presidential Prayer Team (www.presidentialprayerteam.org) is asking believers across America and around the World to, as the Lord leads, please pray for:
- President Trump as he continues to lead the country and keeping a close watch on the storm situation in Texas.
- For safety as President Trump heads to Texas tomorrow to see first-hand the damage caused by the storm.
- For the emergency workers as they face yet more storms and more flooding in the area.
- Millions of citizens who have evacuated their homes or some who are trapped within the flooding parts of Texas.
For more information on the ministry of the BEGA/RRT, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt . Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/RRTChaplains .
Media requesting more information on the BGEA Rapid Response Team, contact Media Contact: Erik Ogren, (704) 401-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo captions: 1) Sam Speights tries to hold back tears while holding his dogs and surveying the damage to his home. 2) A man helps a neighbor down a street after rescuing her from her home in his boat after it was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. 3) Evangelist and apologist Nabeel Qureshi shared a video of the destruction Hurricane Harvey inflicted on his Houston neighborhood (Photo: YouTube). 4) Mary Marr. 5) The devasating flooding. 6) Woman surveys the shocking damage to her home. 7) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister, and an award-winning local cable-TV program host/producer who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. You may follow Michael on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Michael-Ireland-Media-Missionary-234951783610/ and on Twitter at @Michael_ASSIST. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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