After the flood, cups of cold water
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” — Matthew 10:42, New King James Version
LEAGUE CITY, Texas — How do you prepare for a disaster? Having no control of a storm is very daunting. The psychological impact alone is almost more than a person can bear.
For that reason, Christians should be ready to come in and hold up those who are devastated and lost.
My dad, J. Bridges, believed this. He once told me that Christians should be the first on the scene of a disaster and the last ones to leave.
I’m a volunteer with Disaster Assistance CoC, an outreach mission of Churches of Christ that has been on the scene of more than 55 disasters across the U.S. We’re working with the League City Church of Christ in Texas, between Houston and Galveston, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. So far our truck is the only one on the scene handing out food and water, day after day.
Here, I’ve encountered so many souls who have touched my life with their stories of survival and inspired me with their response to our efforts:
- In the flood-ravaged town of Dickinson, Texas, I met Tom. He told me he how he inflated a small children’s swimming pool and used it as a life raft, placing his two grandchildren in the pool and walking next to it, out of his house, into neck-deep water. He spent an hour and 45 minutes walking, swimming and wading to get his grandkids to safety. He did not want the water or food I offered him. He asked me to give it to his neighbors because he already had been blessed beyond measure. “My grandkids are safe,” he said.
- I was blessed to meet a 6-year-old girl whose family lost all their belongings. I asked her what she wanted. She wanted her books. All of hers had gotten wet. Needless to say, she now has all the books she can read.
- I met a lady named Ruth who refused our relief supplies. Like Tom, she wanted her neighbors to have her part. “I only got about two feet of water,” Ruth said. “They got four feet.” I try to go by every other day and check on Ruth.
- I met a man named Harvey Smith who is a veteran. He wanted me to give supplies to his neighbors. He said, ‘We will be fine.’ I took his wife a Crock-Pot. It’s new, and it’s clean. She cried.
- Another lady was living in a camper in her driveway. We offered her supplies, and she did finally take a Gatorade. She mentioned how hot it was in the camper, so I took her a toaster oven so she would not have to use the camper oven. She was amazed that it was new and free.
- One day my new friend, Rachel from Indiana, and I stopped on the street and asked a lady if her family needed water. We learned that she had two flooded homes — hers and her son’s. She asked, “What kind of church is a Church of Christ?” I told her we are a New Testament, Gospel-based church. Her son was amazed that we were not pushing our faith on them, but that we gave them food and water and asked nothing in return. I told him that we try to show the mind of Christ to everyone we meet. The son talked for 30 minutes. We listened.
- The contractors working to rebuild homes have been awesome. When we visit, they’re quick to tell us that they’re not the home owners. Nonetheless, we offer them water, food, masks and paper towels. I have never been told “God bless you” so much in my life.
I am especially thankful for all of the volunteers that come our way. Understandably so, many have had to return to their homes. More volunteers are needed and will be for a long time.
This work cannot go on without volunteers — and a lot of prayers.
“Christians should be the first on the scene of a disaster and the last ones to leave.”
So many blessings come to us as relief workers. We can’t give out enough supplies to catch up with God’s blessings.
Just today, a contractor named Sonny Wilson gave me cash to buy sheetrock for an elderly woman. I asked him if there was anything else he and his crew needed.
“Just a cup of water,” he said.
This time I cried.
JANE SMITH is a member of the Church of Christ of Floresville in Texas, southeast of San Antonio. She volunteers with Disaster Assistance CoC, supported by board members and elders of the Lake Jackson Church of Christ in Texas.