The October issue of New Horizons includes a well thought out vision of church planting for Houston from Mark Sumpter (You can download the pdf of that issue here: October 2017 New Horizons). As noted, that article was written before the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Talk about an immediate challenge to your church planting vision!
There will be enormous ministry opportunities for years to come and no doubt many encouraging stories of what God is doing through Providence OPC in the northeast, Cornerstone in northwest, Good Shepherd Bible Study in the southwest, and any other churches that develop. We look forward to following the progress, and thought we’d bring you an update and a couple of the early stories of what’s happening as our churches pour themselves into a challenging but rewarding ministry opportunity that is truly Texas-sized.
In late September, a group took gift bags house to house in one of the neighborhoods near Providence church in the northwest. The gifts bags included a Paul Tripp hardback devotional, a small gospel booklet, the “Why Worry” pamphlet from CCEF Counseling Center, an OPC brochure, and a $25 VISA gift card. If the home had children there was a children’s devotional storybook included. By way of comment, that is a well thought out gift bag both in terms of its content and its balance. Good gospel and practical resources, looking out for children, and a good idea to give the VISA gift card. While we want to give people things we know will help them long term and spiritually, this seems very appropriate, loving, and generous to give them something they will immediately be thankful for and can use.
The group was able to visit 43 homes and bring encouragement and engage people. Mark Sumpter shares the following stories:
“I was crying the whole time.”
Susan, a Roman Catholic middle-aged woman, reflected on her family’s rescue. She went on, “it was surreal…water up nearly 4 to 5 feet, our first floor deluged.”
We listened more than anything else.
And then there was Diane and her teenage daughter. We stood on her driveway. It was one thing for her to speak of the hurricane waters wiping out their home, but she offered more, “On top of all this loss, my husband has cancer.” That riveted our attention. We listened a little more and then prayed with them.
Last, our paths crossed with Ka-wee. He’s from Southeast Asia. We saw him outside his garage. One of us spoke up from down near the curb of street, “Sir, is your family OK? Were you flooded?” He said he and his family had been spared. He seemed to indicate that he wanted to visit some. We stood with him for 20-30 minutes. Seeking to minister the gospel, we asked, “What is your religious background?” He said that he is a Buddhist. In the course of the conversation, we first asked 3 or 4 questions about the teaching of Buddhism. He gave us answers, and along the way we gave him the essentials of the gospel, regarding the substitutionary life and death of Jesus Christ.
As we hear these stories and the many more coming, let’s be thankful that we have churches, a bible study, an RHM, and a church planting intern in Houston at such a time as this. As we think of it and hear reports, let’s pray for the men that are leading and all the members and visitors of these congregations in what could be a trying and wearying time. We look forward to hearing stories of people coming into the church who’s testimony is “it was because of the love they showed during Harvey that I first got connected…and now here I am.” The national reports on Houston will die down, as they already have due to other news. But our churches will remain long after the national attention has left and even after all the aid organizations have left. Our churches will stay, and they will serve, and they will grow as the Lord blesses their labors for years to come.