Relief Pours into Texas, Caribbean, and Florida
AG World Missions, Convoy of Hope, and U.S. Missions have come to the aid of hundreds of thousands of hurricane victims since Hurricane Harvey struck and Hurricane Irma decimated islands in the Caribbean and rampaged through Florida, but their efforts are far from over.
“Our Latin American Caribbean leadership are interacting with our missionaries and national church leadership throughout the Caribbean to ascertain the greatest needs and how we can most effectively help the suffering,” says AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis. “We have already disbursed emergency relief funds and will continue to respond as our missionaries in the field apprise us of the greatest needs and how we can help.”
Convoy of Hope reports that it has delivered 118 truckloads, representing nearly 3.5 million pounds, of relief supplies to Southeast Texas. To date, 101 of the loads have been distributed, with additional loads en route.
The organization, recognized as one of the compassion arms of the Assemblies of God, has distributed supplies to 47 cities, partnered with 33 churches and ministries, worked with more than 2,000 volunteers, and served more than 158,000 people.
"We are grateful for the incredible churches and partners that come alongside Convoy of Hope during times of disaster," says Hal Donaldson, president of Convoy of Hope. "Because of these partnerships, we are able to give help and hope to survivors in need."
AGWM and Convoy of Hope are also active in the Caribbean, with AGWM providing funds to assist relief efforts. Convoy has a team in the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands distributing supplies.
"We have 1 million meals staged in Haiti and more en route," says Chris Dudley, international response director for Disaster Services. "We are also working with local partners in Cuba to identify their greatest needs."
Chef John Stout and Mercy Chefs, who specialize in offering disaster victims hot, restaurant-quality “comfort food,” have been working 18-hour days to help meet the needs in Rockport and Friendswood, Texas. An AG missionary with U.S. Missions Missionary Church Planters and Developers, Stout who was ministering in Baltimore and arrived in Texas within days of Hurricane Harvey, says that over the past nine days, between the two sites, they have served more than 125,000 meals.
Although Stout says that with the help of 40 volunteers, serving up to 11,000 meals a day at the Friendswood location was manageable, the hardest part was hearing story after story of those who lost everything, but didn’t have flood insurance.
Stout says he spoke to several people in their 80s who were worn out from trying to dig out their homes, and whose futures were at best, uncertain. “I sat at a table with one man in his 80s who broke down and began to cry, he had lost everything,” Stout recalls. “So many times we sat and prayed with people whose homes were destroyed . . . You try not to dwell too much on each story, but you think, These could have been my grandparents . . . it’s difficult when you put yourself in the shoes of the victim.”
Yet despite the emotional and physical fatigue that comes with serving victims of disaster, Stout, who is the Dallas-area director of Mercy Chefs, has left behind a small kitchen at both of the Texas locations and is now in the Bonita Springs, Florida area, with his wife Rachel, serving meals there.
“We may never be like some of these large organizations [as to the numbers they feed daily],” Stout says, “but we find a need and do our best to overwhelm that need with everything we have . . . using the opportunities that arise to witness to and love on people.”
Image by Jill Carlson (jillcarlson.org) from Roman Forest, Texas, USA (Hurricane Harvey Flooding and Damage) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.