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Who Is My Neighbor? (Texas Disaster Relief)

Flooded refinery and flooded water plants. 3 Hours stuck in 1 mile of traffic.Loaded van with fresh produce and cleaning supplies.Delivering aid to the mosque.Giving everything away in the poorest neighborhood of Beaumont.Port Arthur... completely flooded.What they needed the most... water.Sharing our life story with our new Muslim friends.Our produce getting cooked at a local Mexican restaurant to be delivered to the shelter.Empty van. Full hearts. Still praying for Texas.

We were sitting in the back when they asked us to stand so they could acknowledge our work. About 300 men turned around and waved with gratitude. It was morning prayers at the Islamic mosque of Beaumont and we had just driven 26 hours straight to get there.

Actually, we were trying to get to Houston. A church was waiting for our supplies and our labor. But all the roads to the city were closed and we kept being reminded of Jesus saying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

So yeah, we went with the flow… and it took us to a mosque.

24 hours after Hurricane Harvey attacked East Texas, I texted my friend Ned and suggested we go help. The images online were brutal and the flooding seemed to be getting worse. Ned owns a produce company, so we thought it would be amazing to rent a cargo van, load it up with fresh produce and head on down to the friendly state.

I then made a video, asked for help and… off we went.

Our friend Elijah joined us on the all-night ride. We were in good spirits, grateful for the opportunity to serve others and ready to do whatever it took to help those affected most.

Then, we got a bit frustrated. Our plan was completely ruined. We had a specific agenda, with specific things that we brought for the specific requests made by Ecclesia Church in Houston. But after being stuck in traffic and after speaking to the police, we knew for sure that Houston was not accessible.

We first connected with a church and helped them unloaded thousands of bottles of water. Then, we spoke to Mustafa at the mosque and he asked us without hesitation, “Do you need a place to stay?”

Well, we did. All hotels were booked. All restaurants were closed. And all the shelters were at full capacity! Even more, hotels and shelters were being evacuated because there was still a risk of more flooding and more than 180 thousand people in that whole region were without water.

So it was at the mosque that we remembered the words of Jesus again, “Who is your neighbor?”

The answer was clear… these beautiful people were our neighbors.

And Jesus wanted us to serve them.

We spoke with 3 families from Port Arthur who had lost everything. Their homes were still underwater. So we encouraged them and gave them what we had. After the mosque we drove by a line of cars that extended for two miles. Each car was waiting for a case of water. Waiting for hours and hours. So we stopped the van on the side of the road and began to serve people. Ned and Elijah organized bags of veggies and fruit. I went to each car and handed them out.

Then, we quickly realized (obviously) that people needed water most! So we drove more than two hours east and filled our cargo van with water bottles. We drove back and then spent more than 2 hours driving through the poorest part of town. The kind of area that needs a lot of help whether there’s a hurricane or not.


Follow me on Facebook to watch a few of the videos we did from the road:


We were told at least 20 times, “Thank you so much! No one else is coming through here.” Unfortunately, we were also told that the local church was only giving out water and goods to its members. No one else could benefit.

But Jesus brought us directly to them.

It’s amazing how something as simple as a drink of water can change everything. And it’s amazing to know that this is what Jesus asked us to do (to him) in Matthew 25… “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.”

These too were our neighbors. And it was our privilege to serve them.

So yes, we helped a local church, then stayed and donated goods in a local mosque, who then connected us a Christian Mexican restaurant, who then used our produce to feed thousands of people at the local shelter and then we delivered the dehumidifiers to a local community leader who would get them to the homes in most need of them.

“Who was our neighbor?”

Every single person created in the Image of God.

And what else can we say but, “Thank you!”

To all our friends, family and you gorgeous strangers who donated $7,100 to our efforts via The Happy Sonship Non Profit. We want to make you aware of the impact you had, so this is the breakdown of how we used your generosity:

$820 for water.

$3,851 for dehumidifiers and air movers.

$110 for gloves, garbage bags, rope and cleaning supplies.

$280 for travel expenses (food, accommodation).

$400 van rental.

And an almost $1,500 donation to the father who lost his house but spent his week helping his daughter and his elderly neighbor recover quickly.

Note that he was the man in Houston that we were meant to help for two days. We could not make it directly to him, but your donation will help his daughter (who is a single mother) recover after losing her home.

Also, we took:

500 lbs potatoes

400 lbs green cabbage

200 pounds of apples

200 pounds of yellow onions

50 pounds of tomatoes

40 pounds of bananas

10 cases of BBQ sauce and salsa

19 dehumidifiers

6 air movers

Plus 1,000 lip balms (because Beard and Lady lip balms are amazing and there’s nothing like tasty lips to push through hard days).

Ned’s business, Alexander Fruit Company donated the more than $500 we spent on gas. Elijah donated his time as an incredible photographer/videographer and traveling DJ extraordinaire.

And we showed the people of Beaumont and Port Arthur that we were standing with them.

I’ll share a few more stories in the coming days. But for now, keep praying for the people of Texas. And stay ready to join us on our next trip.

When Jesus says love your neighbor… the answer is always, everyone.

Peace.

 

+ Empower us to do more at the Happy Sonship NPO. Give now and/or become a partner with us and 100% of your donations will be tax-deductible. We are serving the poorest of the poor in Peru, Ethiopia and reaching prisoners here in North Carolina. Plus, whenever disaster strikes again, we want to be ready to give, serve and go.

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