The Springs Community Christian Reformed Church in Southeast Austin, Tex., is not a large church, but its 30 or so members have a large heart for its flooded community.
When 15 inches of rain fell in two hours on October 30, more than 200 families within a two-mile radius of the church were displaced.
Already an underserved, economically challenged area, this is the second major flood in two years. Some homeowners were still making repairs from the first flood. Onion Creek, which runs through the county of Austin, rose to 39 feet (12 m) during this flood, leaving behind significant damage.
No one from The Springs Church was personally affected with a flooded home, but helping others in need has affected them, causing them to empathize with those who have had their homes flooded and feel overwhelmed. It has given them opportunity to serve others in their community with compassion.
Pastor Richard Villareal said, “Members are becoming proactive, calling to ask, ‘How can we serve?’”
One church group made tacos to share with those displaced. Others have taken time to hear the stories of those who have lost much. One women who lost three of her brothers this past year is now dealing with the loss a flood creates. Taking time to hear their stories, to give a hand, has impacted those receiving to feel not only renewed hope, but to also feel heard and cared for.
On Sunday, Nov. 1, The Springs Community Church took “church” to the community. After a devotional, members went door to door handing out leaflets with information of resources available in the community, giving the church an opportunity to meet people who opened their doors, allowing them to assess their needs, hand out water bottles, and offer the hope of the gospel in the midst of overwhelming disaster.
Nearby Sunrise Christian Reformed Church’s pastor Mark Hilbelink came with a small group on November 2 to help as well. It became apparent that one of the immediate needs was for clean clothes, so off to the laundromat they went with bundles of laundry to be washed and folded and then returned to the owners.
“There will be need of more workers and Serve teams in the coming months,” said Villareal.
World Renew, the relief and development agency of the CRC, also has a needs assessment team in the area. Managers were already in the area following flooding in May in the nearby San Marcos region.