In Rockport this past week we learned to live with the reality of evil in the world. As Christians we believe the evil we encounter is the result of sin affecting both the natural creation and the hearts of people. We continue the maddeningly slow cleanup from a Category 4 Hurricane, an example of natural evil that we did not cause and could not control. We also grieve with the rest of the world over the shootings at FBC Sutherland, an example of moral evil in the hearts of people we also did not cause and could not control. What can we do? We should be vigilant, we should be prepared, we should be good managers of what God has given to us. But I am unable to control so many things in this world. I tend to fear what I do not understand and cannot control. I invite you to remember Simon Peter’s guidance to us all, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Offering for FBC Sutherland Springs
This Sunday we will collect an offering for FBC Sutherland Springs. I have already sent $10,000 to them on behalf of our church. I understand the funeral and medical costs of families are being covered. Therefore, our financial gifts will go to the church to help them meet their financial commitments as they seek the Lord about how to go forward and minister to their community. Let’s show our generosity just as so many around the country showed their generosity to us.
I know people are concerned about church security. FBC Rockport will seek to find the balance between the convenience and freedoms of our members, and doing what is reasonable to make our property secure. We want to be welcoming and open to all people while being vigilant. I am going to do three things. First, I want to ask for more volunteers to serve in our Usher/Greeter ministry. We will need people to be at our doors being both welcoming and vigilant. We will provide training for all our Ushers and Greeters. All who are interested in serving should contact Barney Reed or the church office. Second, I will work with the Aransas County Sheriff Department and the Rockport Police Department to train our staff and volunteers in safety and emergency procedures and to develop reasonable safety plans for our property once the building is completed. Training will be open to all members and to our sister churches in the area. Third, I will ask our Deacons to consider what else, if anything, needs to be done to keep people safe on our property. There is no end to the money we could spend, but what is truly needed? We may need to add some things to the 2018 budget, such as security cameras. I will ask our Deacons to consider this matter and make recommendations to the church.
Work on our roof is almost complete. They plan on starting on the kitchen next week. We should plan on work to continue well into March. In January we will look at beginning Wednesday night activities, staring Discovery Days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and opening more of our building mid-week. I hope to continue to house work groups in our building Friday-Monday each week. We should expect many people to stay in our building during Spring Break and this summer. I intend to make as much of our building and property available to the recovery and rebuild efforts in our community.
Community Thanksgiving Service
FBC Rockport will host the Community-wide Thanksgiving Service this year. It is scheduled for November 19 at 7 p.m. This is the time for Christ-followers to gather to give thanks for God bringing us this far, to send a clear message to Rockport-Fulton that we are committed to the people who live here, and to pray for God’s mercy upon those who remain homeless, displaced, and discouraged with the slowness of the recovery efforts.
Long Term Recovery and Unmet Needs
We continue to host the Volunteer Reception Center for Aransas County, where property owners can get assistance from volunteers with crisis clean-up. We will likely do this for another six months. When the county officially starts its rebuilding phase we will support their efforts. This is not the place to explain how the process will work, but our part will be to help those in Aransas County who have “unmet needs.” These are the people who did not get help from FEMA with their homes, who did not get help from an SBA loan, who did not have insurance, and who cannot afford to pay for labor and materials. They will have to go through a case management process that will bring together the money and materials donated to our community with the volunteers who will work to rebuild and restore what was lost. We will host volunteers who will work in these efforts. We will be a base for Texas Baptist Men and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief groups for as long as they are able to stay. It has been a real joy to work with these Baptist relief workers. We will also host Samaritan’s Purse on our property for the next two to three years. FBC Rockport is committed to the long-term recovery of our community and we will work closely with others to see the process through to the end.
Jeff and I continue to work closely with Samaritan’s Purse so they can set up and get to work as quickly as possible. They will first put an office trailer on our property to begin their case management work and oversee construction of the building they will work from in the coming years. We hope the building is finished in the next six months. We will report more on this process as we have definite answers. I have been impressed with Samaritan’s Purse and look forward to working with them and Texas Baptist Men to share the love of Jesus with people in our community.
Harvey Relief Fund
I previously reported that FBC Rockport received around $380,000 from churches and people around the country to aid our rebuild and relief efforts. Jeff will put out a more detailed report in the coming days. So far, I have distributed at least $150,000 in aid to our church members and other citizens of Aransas County. The need remains great and we are still accepting contributions. Money may be sent to our church and designated “Harvey Relief.”
Please allow me to say again how much I love and thank God for you all. Kim and I are glad that ten years ago God led us to Rockport. We try to be open about our discouragement and about our commitments. We will not abandon our post. The Lord is good and faithful. There is nowhere else we would rather be than in Aransas County with all of you.