NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Response to Disaster

This weekend has been full of anxiety as Hurricane Harvey headed towards Texas and began to affect more and more people’s lives. As a Christian, I believe that our prayers do have an effect, so most of my response to this storm was with prayer. It’s amazing to me how God let’s us enter into other people’s and place’s problems through prayer. And it was amazing to see how God answered several of our specific prayers about this storm. After the initial hit, we heard that no lives were lost due to the storm, at least for that moment and only one was due to a fire caused by the storm. It also weakened from a Category 4 down to a Tropical Storm very quickly. Unfortunately, many people were still affected by this storm and especially by all the rain that came with it.

So I moved on not to just praying, but being a part of the Body of Christ’s response to this disaster. I donated to the Austin Disaster Relief Network or (ADRN), a group of churches in Austin that have prepared for disasters and are ready to respond when one occurs. And I encouraged my friends and family to donate as well. If you would also like to donate, here is a link to their donation page: https://adrn.org/disaster-relief/hurricaneharvey/  The funds go towards providing essential needs for families affected by disasters and towards long-term care and rebuilding.

I also had the chance to join ADRN at a nearby Red Cross Shelter for evacuees from Rockport. These people had been in Rockport during the storm and their homes were destroyed. They were wandering the streets when the National Guard picked them up and bused them up her to Austin. Many of them had nothing at all, except the clothes they were wearing. Many didn’t even have shoes.

It was such a blessing to me to be able to provide some needed items to these people. We gave out hygiene kits, and gift cards to Walmart so they could go shopping and get some new clothes and shoes and whatever else they needed. We even had several people help organize getting people to and from the nearby Walmart. Many volunteers sat and talked through what had happened so these families could start to process what they’ve gone through. And if they wanted to, we prayed with them.

I mostly was running errands between groups but one of my favorite moments was when one of the volunteers asked me to go get some colored pencils for a family with 2 kids. One was a toddler and the other was an elementary age girl. When I went to the supply area to get the pencils, the lady there said we had toys to give to the kids too. So she followed me back to the family and we gave the kids toys, coloring books, a Barbie and their faces just lit up. The parents were so thankful, it looked like they were tearing up as they told their kids to tell us thank you. I hadn’t realized till that moment what a difference an act of kindness can mean to a family who’s lost everything.

So anyway, if you’ve been watching these storms and hurting for the people affected, don’t let that be the end of it. Do something to help.

I just read this article about all the ways you can help the people affected by this hurricane, so if you need some suggestions read this: http://www.austinmonthly.com/Austin-Amplified/August-2017/15-Ways-to-Help-Hurricane-Harvey-Relief-in-Austin/

And remember that even when what you can do seems small to you, it can be huge to the person you’re helping.

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Going to Church

Recently I’ve been thinking about why so many people don’t go to church anymore. There can be many reasons for it: getting scheduled to work on a Sunday, moving to a new town and not connecting with any of the churches there, being hurt by someone at a church, or having a baby and not having the energy to go. I don’t know everyone’s reasons for not going but I’ve noticed several of my friends and acquaintances struggling to make it to church on Sunday. It seems to be a widely spread phenomenon. So, I just wanted to share a few reasons why I think going to church is important for believers and if you’ve been struggling to go to church, or have a friend that is struggling, maybe this can help in some small way.

1. It’s important because God’s Word says it is important.

In one of the early letters written to the Hebrew church, the author writes “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Jesus also says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) He doesn’t tell us to follow Him by ourselves, but with other people. In fact He even says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) People should be able to recognize us as followers of Jesus by how we love other believers. But that doesn’t work so well if you cut yourself off from gathering with fellow believers at church.

2. It’s important because the Church is a body that supports each member.

As Paul writes, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5) We all need help. Even if life is going well for you now, eventually something will happen. It could be losing a job, a loved one, getting sick or depressed, or a number of other things. When you have a tight knit community around you, there are people to support you emotionally, financially, or in whatever way you need. And if it’s not you who needs help right now, it could be someone else in the church community who needs your help, encouragement, or expertise. But if you’re not there, the whole church loses out.

I’m sure there are many other reasons to go to church, many other passages in Scripture to support going but ultimately, each person has to make their own decision. I can’t force anyone to go to church. But in my own life, I can’t imagine trying to follow Jesus without the help, support, encouragement and guidance of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I really do feel like they are my family. They know me better than some of my relatives in my blood family. But feeling a part of the family means investing in relationships, it means going to church consistently and getting involved in groups outside of Sunday. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it is worth it in the end.

So if you’re still looking for that community, keep looking. If you have a church, keep going. And if you have friends that don’t come, keep inviting. Don’t give up.

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Lessons from Haiti: The Body of Christ at Work

Hello blog readers, I’m still reviewing my trip to Haiti, and all the lessons God taught me while I was there. We’ve made it through the first few days of the trip and are currently on Monday, the first workday of the trip. Hope you enjoy!

Day 4: The Body of Christ at Work

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So far on my journey, I’d felt that I was mostly receiving things. I was given delicious food, time with people, joy, even several valuable lessons from God about prayer and the unity of His church. And, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but our team had spent the previous afternoon at the beach. But it was a Sunday, a day of rest, and we were recovering from all the traveling. Still it didn’t feel quite right.

Thus Monday morning started with a new kind of energy; finally we would be able to work, to do something productive or beneficial, to give something back. In a sense, this is what you go into a mission trip expecting to do, and it felt odd that it wasn’t until Day 4 of our adventure, that the “real work” was starting.

Eagerly we awoke at 5:30am to begin helping with the soccer ministry in the village. We all carried bags stuffed full of soccer balls, cleats, and uniforms to the wide field outside the church. However, once we had handed out the equipment, most of us ended up standing around with not much to do. I’ve never played soccer, so I felt a bit useless as I watched the training begin. I ended up trying to interact with a few of the children from the village along with a few other girls from our group. We couldn’t say much, but we were still able to laugh with the kids.

Soon the training ended and we packed everything back up and headed back to the camp, which is called Jacob’s Well. (I’m tired of calling it the camp, so we’ll refer to it as Jacob’s Well from now on). We ate some breakfast and then began on a fencing project. I didn’t feel like I was doing a lot of work. I mean I carried a few cement blocks, or passed some buckets full of cement down the line, but mostly I was standing around, not knowing what to do, or taking a water break. The most beneficial thing I did was remind other people to drink water so no one got overheated.

So far I had felt pretty inadequate, like I wasn’t very useful for any of the projects going on in Haiti. But as we took a break for lunch, I looked at what the team as a whole had accomplished and realized just how much God can do with very little. I didn’t feel like I had contributed much to the fence, but there it was getting longer and put together. It was a lesson in God’s provision. Even if I didn’t know the first thing about building a fence, God had provided other team members that did, and he used the whole team’s effort to accomplish something I couldn’t have done alone.

Thankfully after lunch, I was able to start work on a painting project that is more in my field of expertise. But I’ll never forget that God uses a body, of different people, with different skills to accomplish His work. We all have purpose, we all have value, and we all can be used by God.

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