HOUSTON, Texas—Waters are still receding in parts of Houston as individuals work through the destruction that Hurricane Harvey left in its wake.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) has had boots on the ground since just days after Harvey hit, providing meals and starting the steps towards recovering from flood waters that have changed the lives of all they have touched.
At Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, Sept. 2-3, a love offering was observed during the Falls Creek Centennial Celebration. Prior to the Sept. 2 offering, a video was played featuring Matt Roberson, longtime Falls Creek worship leader and lead pastor at Houston, Texas, The Met.
Roberson had been scheduled to join other musicians in leading worship at the Night of Praise during Falls Creek’s Centennial Celebration. However, due to Hurricane Harvey, The Met quickly became a shelter for approximately 700 people in need. For that reason, Roberson stayed in Houston to assist his church, despite the great desire to join in fellowship and worship at Falls Creek.
The total amount of the offering that would be given to The Met as they engage and assist their local community was $32,000.
DR State Director Don Williams along with Alan Quigley, Mobilization Team leader of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, met with Roberson at The Met to present the check days later.
Roberson shared an impactful story about a family who found themselves seeking refuge in the church.
“I was walking through the lobby, and I saw a man. You could tell he was a bit down,” Roberson said.
The man’s name was Juan. He was with his wife Maria and two small children. Roberson introduced himself and asked to hear their story.
“He told me where his home was, that it was just a few miles from the church. He said, ‘You know, we thought we could wait it out, but then the water started to fill our home,’” Roberson said.
Eventually, Juan and his wife knew they coulnot stay with their two children in their apartment. Despite being on the second floor, the water began to rise close to 3 feet.
“He told me they got on a boat. The local fire department along with several fire departments deployed from other states were all over the city rescuing people from high water,” Roberson said.
After hearing the man’s story Roberson inquired how his time had been at the church.
“I told him my goal is that ‘this would be a place for you to come and relax, eat good food, rest,’” Roberson said, “He just started crying. He said ‘I’ve never been treated this well.’”
Juan expressed to Roberson how the love shown by the church had impacted his family, even in the wake of tragedy.
“He told me his kids don’t want to leave. This had changed their life,” Roberson said.
Roberson asked him if he would attend church Sunday, and with a laugh, Juan said yes because his family really had nowhere else to go. Roberson asked if he would tell his story on stage in front of the church, which Juan agreed to.
“So I brought him on stage and asked him a few of the same questions. Just as bold and confident and emotional as before he just shared,” Roberson said. “He said, ‘I lost everything, but I have my family,’ then he looks up and said, ‘And I have this church if you’ll have me.’”
The church excitedly welcomed Juan and his family by erupting in applause.
“He gave his life to Christ at the end of the service. One of our executive pastors prayed with him right there, and I was blown away,” Roberson said.
Roberson asked why Juan, coming from the a Roman Catholic background, made this decision now?
“He said he just figured he could handle it on his own (in the past), but he had never been loved this way before,” Roberson said.
The Met has had more than 100 volunteers and 30 National Guard serve on their campuses in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They have been able to provide meals, medical care for humans and animals, hair care and more.
Roberson hopes that the story of Juan and his family will be shared constantly so that others can see how God is moving in the wake of destruction.