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Hardin County, Texas rebuilding report

The Winter Rebuilding Ministry in Hardin County, Texas began on January 6th and continued through the end of March. During the 3-month period nearly 500 weekly volunteers representing over 50 congregations served. These willing workers served under the direction of the Ministry Coordinators, a Spiritual Oversite Team, skilled Construction Leaders and a Kitchen Coordinator. We were blessed to work in conjunction with the Director of Hardin County Disaster Recovery and a very organized disaster rebuilding organization called iConnect Outreach. Partnering with these organizations contributed greatly to the success of the rebuilding effort.

Six new homes and 14 major remodels were completed for families whose homes were destroyed or significantly damaged as a result of Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017. While Hardin County was spared the powerful destruction of the winds, many of its residents suffered severe flooding - homes completely submerged. Nearby Beaumont recorded 26” of rain in 24 hours, a U.S. record.

Through the process of case management, the needs and resources of impacted families were evaluated leading us to help those who could not recover on their own. Once a determination was made of which families we would serve, preparation of the building sites began. The existing damaged homes were torn down and the lots cleared of debris. Each lot was surveyed to insure the correct placement for the new home. All of this work was completed prior to our arrival, opening the way to begin construction immediately.

We were richly blessed by our gracious hosts at Crestwood Baptist Church which was the center of our operations. They welcomed us to use their facilities to house and feed our volunteers. We cooked in their commercial kitchen and shared meals in the adjacent dining room. Sunday school rooms were converted into dormitories providing sleeping quarters for our weekly volunteers. Their parking lot provided storage space for our fleet of vehicles and a staging area for building supplies. All of this was offered at no charge as their way to participate in the local recovery effort. A beautiful relationship emerged.

While the restoration of these physical dwellings is the most visible evidence of this ministry, the greater purpose is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The team’s morning devotion focused on the theme of “Sharing the Gospel.” Each participant was encouraged to speak the gospel to themselves, to fellow team members and anyone they came in contact with. Through the development of relationships, trust and understanding grew. This provided opportunity to encourage the believer in their faith as well as pointing the unbelieving to Christ. While it is easy to count the number of homes rebuilt, gauging the impact of the spiritual outreach effort is more challenging. We plant and water and know that only God can give the increase.

Near the end of March, a special evening was set aside to glorify God for his faithful provision. Homeowners and their families, neighbors, partners, community leaders, and our gracious hosts from Crestwood Baptist Church gathered to hear God’s Word and participate in a time of praise and reflection. Testimonies were shared. One homeowner commented – “Everyone was so happy!” as young and old worked together. “You have restored my faith in humanity” was another homeowner’s testimony. Even a local propane supplier expressed how deeply he had been impacted as he observed our team in action and became acquainted with some of the long- term team who frequently visited his business. While we appreciate these testimonies, we continually point to Christ as the one worthy of thanks and praise. It’s not about us; it’s about him! The evening concluded as we all sang together – “To God Be the Glory!”