Bevin Center partners with NAMB for relief work in Houston
Lia Kaiser arrived in Houston devastated. Kaiser, an Ohio native, came to Houston to help with disaster relief after Hurricane Harvey. She thought they would mostly be doing clean-up, but she didn’t realize how much damage there really was.
“There were just sacks upon sacks of peoples lives out in the street,” said Kaiser, an education major at Boyce College. “You see dry-wall, you see wood that has to be thrown away. You see personal things like beds and mattresses and shoes and clothes that were thrown out, it was really devastating. These people lost everything.”
Kaiser went to Houston with a team from Boyce College. From Oct. 2nd to the 6th the team helped local natives recover from the damage sustained during the hurricane, which caused an estimated $180 billion in damages, impacted 203,000 homes, and killed over 80 people. Southern Seminary’s Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization commissioned the team, which included 12 Boyce College students. Justin Fountain, a master of divinity student at Southern Seminary and a Houston native, led the team. The team partnered with the North American Mission Board.
Not only did NAMB look to serve those affected by Harvey, but they prepared to serve those who came to do relief work, provided cots, showers, and meals, and held nightly devotions. The team focused on visiting victim’s homes and sharing the gospel with them, Kaiser said.
“We partnered with NAMB and every single house we went to we talked with them,” she said. “We might not have been able to form a relationship with them, but we at least talked to them about their beliefs or their religion. Going to these peoples houses you could kind of tell a lot about them.”
Justin described each day’s work as long, arduous, and filthy.
“They sent us out every day about 8 a.m., and we would work about nine hours every day at different locations around the city basically helping anyone that needed help,” Fountain said. “The homes there were completely destroyed … The students did outstanding work, had really good attitudes, and were very open to helping and doing what was necessary. The days were long, the work was gross.”
The trip hit home particularly for Fountain since he has lived in Houston for the last 10 years.
“It’s been my city for quite a while, so I got to visit a few friends near by,” he said. “Most of my friends were spared, a few of them weren’t. … All the people I know, everyone has done something. … Everyone is opening up whatever they could to try to house people that have lost their space.”
There is still much work to be done in Houston. The flood waters are being released from city reservoirs, many relief organizations have exited, but those affected by Harvey still need help.
“Even if you have insurance, you are looking at a six-to-nine month time frame,” Fountain said. “Right now everybody is slammed, anybody who does construction work is overloaded. The city is going to take quite a while to recover in the areas that are hit … There’s a lot of work to be done. The city itself will take another year and a half or so before it’s back to normal in the hard hit areas.”
Working with Boyce students proved helpful for the leaders of the team. There were logistical hiccups and their plan changed every day. Frequently they wouldn’t have the right tools and would need to get them from the store. But the students maintained positive attitudes and did what they could to help the locals, Fountain said.
“I was very impressed with their attitudes and their willingness to deal with problems,” he said. “We had to work with equipment that wasn’t exactly right for the job, and they aren’t experts on construction.”
Since the trip was student organized, all the Bevin Center had to do was find leaders for the trip who were old enough to drive the van. They met a week before to organize the trip, and then they went.
“Basically [Harvey] happened and then there was some discussion of doing something,” Fountain said. “Evidently all of the students that went came to the Bevin Center asking if there was [a trip] they could go on to one of the hurricane relief areas. It was student-led, student-prompted.”
More information about the Bevin Center is available at missions.sbts.edu.