By Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
During my first visit to Houston, TX after Hurricane Harvey, I noticed that the city and our four Western District Conference churches were facing hardship in different ways and yet the words of Jeremiah are reflected in their ministries: “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile, pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NLT).
The effects of Hurricane Harvey continue to be a painful experience for our brothers, sisters, friends and the whole Houston population. There has been a lot of suffering and devastation. Despite pain, destruction and anguish there are also stories of hope and healing. The Houston Mennonite community of faith continues discerning the best way to respond in the aftermath of the storm. They have used air mattresses to evacuate families trapped by flood waters. They have made their way through the debris to reach families in need and provide them with food, cleaning supplies, construction materials, moral and spiritual support. They have worked tirelessly alongside other partners to raise funds to assist undocumented families who do not qualify for federal assistance.
WDC also invited contributions to support WDC’s congregations in Houston. Thanks to many generous donations, over $20,000 has been received and distributed directly to these congregations. As they have received financial support they are helping their members and other local congregations in whatever ways possible. They have assisted not only their own parishioners but the wider community as well. For example, at least sixteen independent congregations reached out to our Mennonite churches seeking assistance. These local congregations were also impacted by the Christian love, grace and generosity demonstrated by the Mennonite family.
Alongside Mennonite Disaster Service, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church USA, individuals, and other local and national organizations, WDC will continue exploring ways to support our Houston pastors and congregations as they continue ministering to the city and responding in the aftermath in the best way possible. Your prayers and support are very much appreciated as our congregations join God at work in the reconstruction and wellbeing of the city of Houston.