Hurricane Harvey Response: A Small Providence Opens a Door for Ministry
by Nick Lammé, OPC Evangelist in Houston, TX (August 2019)
Nick Lammé ministers to the long-term needs of Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. This report was shared with OPC Disaster Response by Al Tricarico of Home Missions in August 2019. Rev. Lammé's work is supported in part by disaster response funds.
Over the last month, I have had many occasions to follow up on contacts made over the last year in outreach efforts in Houston. But I am grateful to the Lord that he is added many new contacts to this list. New contacts in the outreach in Houston have been almost exclusively the result of people we have worked with in the past, with one exception. In June, we held an open house in a neighborhood called Memorial Hills. This was the 3rd open house we had held in this neighborhood since December. What made this last open house different was that we invited the Rev. Carl Miller, who is also a licensed counselor, to speak on grief and loss.
The day of the open house, I decided to do one more pass through the neighborhood, distributing invitations while at the same time trying this strike up conversations with people I met on the street. One of the ladies that I spoke to while distributing invitations was the woman serving as water board president, "T." "T" told me about a lady who lived just a couple of doors down who had recently lost her husband. She asked if I would go visit "S" and invite her personally to the open house. So leaving "T’s," I walked back to "S’s" and after knocking on the door, I waited. When "S" came to the door she looked at me suspiciously. After introducing myself and inviting her to the open house, she responded, “Well, I don’t know. I really don’t like religious people, and I’m not religious. In fact, I see it is a very negative thing.”
I confess that "S’s" response to my invitation caught me a bit off guard. The only thing that I could respond at the moment was to tell her how sorry I was that she felt that way. I tried explaining to her that I understood her apprehension, but that the man who is going to be speaking was also a licensed grief counselor and that perhaps she could benefit from the parts of the talk that she didn’t find specifically religious. Thankfully "S" was willing to continue talking, and by the end of the conversation (which was quite brief), she indicated that she would most likely attend the open house. And in fact, she did. Not only did "S" attend, but she also interacted with Rev. Miller. When she left, she was genuinely uplifted, and took the gift bag with resources that we had put together for all of the attendees. I was not simply surprised that she had come, but very grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to minister to this person who is evidently not a believer.
When I visited "S" in her home about three weeks later, I decided to ask "T" to accompany me, so as not to make "S" unduly uncomfortable. But after talking in her house for a little over half an hour, "T" left and I continued talking to "S," who opened up about her husband, their marriage, and his death.
"S’s" husband had been a bodybuilder when he was younger, and the star football player here in Texas. "S" showed me all sorts of pictures and told me many stories about her husband. One of the story she told, though, was of their harrowing rescue from the floodwaters of Harvey. They were one of the last people to be evacuated from this neighborhood, and their house took on nearly 5 feet of water. As the floodwaters rose, "S’s" husband got trapped in the back and "S" found herself on the front porch, hanging onto a part of her house for dear life. She actually thought that she and her husband were going to die that day, right before a rescue boat showed up to take them out. Her husband had diabetes, and after exposure to whatever was in the water, his health quickly worsened.
Over the next year and a half, he would be in and out of the hospital, until he passed away this year in April. I am thankful that I was able to console "S" and pray with her. I was grateful she allowed me to minister to her in this way, especially since she does not consider herself a religious person. And I am grateful to the Lord for opening up this door for ministry which continues to today. Strangely enough, I don’t think I would have this door for ministry with her had it not been for an unlikely providence of the Lord. as follows:
During our visit, "S" mentioned that her laptop had died the other day, and she didn’t have money to buy a new one, and now she would have to go down to the library to use the computers there. I offered to look at her computer, even though I couldn’t promise that I would be able to fix anything. When I sat down at her computer, I realized that the problem was that she had not plugged in the laptop since her husband passed away. So, I found the plug, connected the laptop and hit the power button. When the computer turned on, "S" was more excited than I have ever seen anybody excited over a computer. Then I was able to connect her new printer to her computer, and she was even more excited. It was this very small providence that opened a door for ministry with "S."
As I continue to minister to Harvey victims, and seek to bring the good news of the gospel, and the comfort of God’s word to people who have suffered great loss, and continue to struggle with the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, my daily prayers that the Lord would bring me into contact with people who do not know him, or who have been out of the church and need to be reconnected with the body of Christ. The Lord has been good in hearing this prayer and answering it. Including "S," there have been four other contacts with families who do not know our Lord Jesus. I covet your prayers for my efforts to reach these people with the gospel.