Saturday, September 23, 2017


This week I was afforded an interesting perspective that left me in awe.  As we help our neighbors recover from Hurricane Harvey, one of the things my wife Lori and I have determined to do is to provide lunches and cold drinks to the homeowners, volunteers, and workers in our neighborhood.  Hundreds of homes were damaged by the flood waters so every day there are many working throughout our neighborhood as this community recovers from the hurricane.  We've had an outpouring of donations and volunteers to help us provide supplies, tools, food, and drinks over the course of the last few weeks.

While Lori and I usually ride side-by-side on a golf cart (loaned to us by Conroe Golf Cars), on this particular day we had a large load of donated lunches that could not all fit on the golf cart.  So, I tagged along behind her in our car loaded with hot meals.  As I followed her, I watched.  I watched as she honked the horn and yelled,

"Do you need a cold drink? I've got hot lunches today!"

While there are new volunteer faces everyday, the homeowners she sees everyday are the same.  She knows them all by name.  She knows what they like.  She knows their stories.  She knows what they need.  She listens to them.  She talks with them.  She cries with them.  She prays with them. 

I watched as she waved to them as she drove down the street.  I watched as they smiled as she approached.  I watched as she never just handed out food or drink.  She had to talk to every last one of them.  Some longer than others but all were left with the sense that if they needed to talk or share, they had somebody that was there for them.  At one particular house, a young lady came out to the street to meet her.  While I could not hear the conversation, I could tell the young lady was upset.  She cried a little as she shared what was on her heart.  Lori just listened.  5 minutes went by.  10 minutes went by.  I lost track of time to be honest, but it was a long visit.  A very long visit.  A county worker showed up that needed to talk to the young lady otherwise I'm convinced Lori would have been there much longer.  When she was done, she jumped back in the cart and off she went to the next house. 

I'm not sure how long this trip was but it was quite lengthy for sure.  It was Lori's second trip of the day in that little red golf cart and she was in no big hurry.  For Lori, this is not just about rebuilding structures.  It's about people.  It's about loving people.  It's about encouraging those who need encouraged.  It's about listening to those who need to talk.  It's about praying with those who are overwhelmed by it all.  It's about providing some form of normalcy to those who have very little "normal" right now.  Someone wanted a Coca-Cola, another wanted Cream Soda, so Lori helped make it happen.  

She doesn't try to do everything.  She finds out what people need and she then leans on the many volunteers who are able to meet those needs.  The people volunteering throughout this process have been amazing.  Lori, gets so excited when she connects someone who has a need with someone who can meet that need.  I cannot think of one need that has gone unmet as volunteers step up to meet needs when they are made known.  We've witnessed cars being donated, appliances being donated, lawn services donated, clothes, food, supplies, and on and on the list goes.  For the better part of a month, our house has resembled a Walmart or Lowes more than a house because of all the donations that have poured in.  And with every donation, Lori gets a little choked up because she knows that somebody on her daily route will benefit from the generous gifts of others. 

It's early on Saturday morning as I write this and she is already on her little red golf cart driving throughout the neighborhood.  Somebody donated strawberries and somebody else donated bananna bread.  She is confident that there are neighbors out there who would love to have some delicious cold strawberries this morning along with some home-baked bananna bread.  I'm not sure how long she'll be gone, but when she drives up, she'll be grinning from ear to ear and have some incredible story to tell me. 

I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to drive behind her and just watch this week.  I'm glad I got to just watch her do her thing.  She is definitely love in action.  She is the hands, feet, ears, and mouth of God.  If you are wondering what God the Father is like,  look no further than this lady I am honored to call my wife, driving around in a little red golf cart loving on her neighbors.  She's bringing a ray of hope in the middle of hopelessness.  She's bringing light into an otherwise dark situation.  She's bringing a meal, cold drinks, and a caring heart.  She's my wife, and she is AMAZING!

PS...not only was she grinning when she returned from her morning out serving her neighbors, she burst through the door singing.  And yes, she had some stories to tell!
Tim is the lead pastor at Westlake Fellowship in Montgomery, Texas. If you live in the area, join us Sunday mornings at 10:30 am at 19786 Hwy 105 Suite 120 in Montgomery (beside Magnolia Diner).

If you would like to donate to help us in our efforts to minister to those affected by hurricane Harvey, you can donate here:

Friday, September 8, 2017

The "Hurricane Harvey" Stories

As we've determined to help those affected by hurricane Harvey, we've met so many different types of people.  I've personally walked/driven up and down the streets of my neighborhood connecting with people, listening to their stories. I met a lady yesterday whose house served as a senior care facility for 8 senior citizens.  I met a Filipino family who were actually in the Philippines when Harvey hit and couldn't get back for several days to survey the damage to their home.  I met a military vet who had just moved his family in a month ago.  I met a couple who were renters and had just moved in the week prior to Harvey hitting.  I met a lady who is on the donor list for a liver transplant.  I met a family who had no friends or family in the area to help them start to begin the process of rebuilding.  I met a couple who had been through this process three times and were exhausted and just wanted to walk away.  I met a lady in her driveway with tears flowing down her cheeks overwhelmed by it all.  I met an elderly couple who when I offered them gift cards rejected them asking me to give them to someone else who needed them more.  I met a man whose house was up for sale and had a buyer but is now left with a house that took in nearly 10 feet of water.  I met a young man who had nearly 40 friends and family show up on day one to help him clean out his house so he sent some of those volunteers to his neighbors to help. I met a man who smiled and laughed the entire time I talked to him who was just happy his family was ok.  I met a single elderly man who was considering whether or not he was going to mess with rebuilding or just walk away.

There is so much "work" to be done here.  So much tearing out and rebuilding to be done.  It's not a quick fix.  This is going to take a long time.  I assume that some of these homes will not be rebuilt and some of these people will relocate permanently. While I can lift a hammer and carry out debris in a wheelbarrow, my demo skills and construction skills are limited.  I will definitely continue to do what I can do to help my neighbors rebuild their homes.  But in all my doing, I want to make sure that I take the time to pause for a moment to listen.  To listen to their story.  To take some time out to speak a word of hope and encouragement.  To slow down and pray with them, cry with them, and hug them.  I long to find out what they really need and do what I can to meet those needs.

I've heard several estimates as to how many homes have been damaged here in my neighborhood alone.  Anywhere from 350 to 450.  I'm not certain as to how many homes have been damaged but I can say for certain that hundreds of people have been affected.  Men, women, children, young and old have been affected by this. And each one has a story.  Our mission is not simply about rebuilding structures for our neighbors to live in.  Its much more personal than that.  It's about helping them pick up the pieces and begin again.  It's about meeting their overwhelming tragedy with an overwhelming love.  It's about helping them rebuild their lives!

Tim is the lead pastor at Westlake Fellowship in Montgomery, Texas. If you live in the area, join us Sunday mornings at 10:30 am at 19786 Hwy 105 Suite 120 in Montgomery (beside Magnolia Diner).

If you would like to donate to help us in our efforts to minister to those affected by hurricane Harvey, you can donate here:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Was Embarrassed

They had come all the way from Eagle Pass to help our neighbors here in Conroe clean up after hurricane Harvey.  These two Hispanic men had driven over 5 hours to help people they did not know.  Although they had been here since Monday, I just met them today (Thursday).  I worked all day along side of them tearing down sheet rock, shoveling up wet debris, and hauling it out to the curb.  Throughout the course of the day I found out a lot about this father and son team.

The father has spent most of his life as a missionary.  While he is currently involved with a shelter for homeless people in a border town, responding to crisis like Harvey is his thing.   For decades he's responded to tragic events like this.  While he and his son were here doing work this week, their mission was not to come for a few days and then go back home.  They were here to assess things then to return home in order to mobilize a team of people to come back.

I was amazed as the father shared stories of how he had spent his life responding to the needs of people in crisis situations.  I'm not sure how old the gentleman was but I'm thinking well into his 60s pushing 70.  I know I only got a small sampling of his life's work, but that small bit was incredible.  I asked his son if this had been the only life he had known to which he smiled and responded, "Yes.  It's been great though."

Most of what I discovered about them was during a short meal break.  Someone had come by offering jambalaya to the volunteers working in our neighborhood.  It was their first experience eating jambalaya but I'm thinking they're hooked.  They actually took one order for the road.

One of the things we've discovered is that in cleaning out houses after a flood, there isn't really anywhere to sit down.  All the chairs end up in the trash heap along with everything else.  Wanting to sit down and eat after being on their feet all day, these two men grabbed a couple of chairs from a neighboring garbage pile.  They were filthy chairs that had been covered in flood waters and sitting in a pile of trash for several days.  But, that didn't matter, they needed a place to sit for a moment and these chairs would do the job.

We went back to work for another hour or so before we were all wiped out.  As we were loading up our tools my two co-workers for the day were approached by a neighbor.  There was no, "Hello."  No, "Where are you guys from?"  No, "Thank you so much for serving our neighborhood."  Instead they were greeted with an accusation.  "You aren't stealing stuff from any of these piles are you?"

I was floored.  I couldn't believe it.  I was embarrassed.  I was completely embarrassed.  I quickly jumped into the conversation to defend them.  I couldn't help but notice that she didn't approach me.  She approached two men who looked different.  Two men who spoke a little different.  I took it a bit personal.  Though I had not known these men very long, I felt connected with them.  We had served together working side by side for a few hours.  They felt like family.  The accusation stung a bit and I wanted to set things right.  When I approached the older man and tried to apologize for the whole thing, he waved his hand and said it was no problem.  He came to serve because it was in his heart to do so. God had put compassion in his heart for our community and that's why he came.  He was not going to let this one little thing affect him.

I understand that emotions are high right now.  This community was hit with a major blow.  People have lost so much and they are trying to start again.  And I know there are those out there that would love to take advantage of those who are hurting.  What is abundantly evident though is that for every one of them there are thousands of others who have determined to help those in our communities who are in need.  In our assuming we would all do good to assume the best of people.

Juan and Mizrael were two of thousands that have hit our neighborhood this week to help us pick up the pieces that Harvey left behind.  They along with so many others didn't show up to take but to give.  If this lady had taken the time to get to know them, she would have discovered they would have been willing to do anything to give of themselves to her neighbors instead of take from them.