Responding to Hurricane Harvey

Responding to Hurricane Harvey

How can we help?  In the face of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, this is the cry of hearts inundated with images of the flooding and interviews of those displaced, having experienced the loss of all of life’s possessions. Our hearts are heavy, our eyes are teary and our prayers are intercessory in the face of so many loosing so much.

Having been involved in relief efforts from Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and flooding here in Colorado along Saint Vrain, I have some observations with regard to responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

First, it is impossible to assess the totality of the disaster while it is still occurring.  The area of impact is experiencing complete infrastructure failure at this point.  Roads, water, sewer and electrical components continue to be compromised or destroyed. It will be several more days before Harvey is done. As disasters go, the current operations would be labeled as “Search and Rescue” and “Emergency Relief”.

There are several groups that a church can support that are well suited for these stages of disaster relief.  I would suggest that if churches want to engage immediately that they consider sending their support to Samaritan’s Purse.  Other early responders equipped to move into disasters in these early stages are the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

Once these groups have done the work that they are best prepared do, the recovery stages can begin. The recovery stage, when people can begin rebuilding their lives, can only begin when basic infrastructure components are restored and people are no longer worried about safety and survival.

This is a long-term disaster that will require long-term support that over the next several weeks and months will move from “Search and Rescue” and “Emergency Relief” to recovery.  The recovery stage can have very distinct stages that require different support needs. Those stages are:

  • Early RecoveryThey have a place to get food and water and a temporary or transitional shelter that can withstand wind and rain. They can go about their daily lives, beginning to resume some kind of normal existence.
  • Medium to Long-Term RecoveryDuring medium to long-term recovery, the work of building permanent physical structures to replace tents, trailers, or plywood houses begins, as does restoration of social structures.
  • Community DevelopmentCommunity development is a means of improving on the “normal.” Traditionally, this phase is not considered part of emergency response.[1]

We are currently looking for strategic partnerships – organizations and churches that will become staging areas for ongoing relief.  Our long-term strategy will be prioritized by:

  • Helping churches that desire to minister to their communities as staging or resourcing areas of relief.
  • Helping families in those churches gain stability in their lives so that they can help minister to their community.
  • All the while looking for opportunity to share the love of Jesus with neighbors by helping them rebuild their lives.

Like Katrina relief, we hope to discover opportunities for churches to send teams to assist in recovery.

CBAmerica will be receiving designated gifts for Hurricane Harvey Relief CLICK HERE.

To give to Samaritans Purse Hurricane Harvey Relief CLICK HERE.

[1] http://reliefweb.int/report/world/phases-disaster-recovery-emergency-response-long-term

 

Making an Impact in Hawaii

Making an Impact in Hawaii: New Chapel Reaches Military Community

By Chaplain Brian Hargis, US Army, Schofield Barracks, Oahu

Second Quarter Ministry Report: April – June 2017

There have been so many blessings that it’s difficult to keep track. That’s why we started a Blessing Jar in our new Chapel program – Impact Chapel.  Each blessing can be written down and stuffed in the jar.  On Thanksgiving we will empty the jar and rejoice at what God has done.

In May, my wife, Tracy and I celebrated 25 years of marriage!  What a wonderful journey it’s been.

Our oldest son, Jordan, came to visit us for 6 weeks. Since he is in the Army National Guard, he could join me on the “Best Unit Ministry Team (UMT) Competition” that included Land Navigation (or Geo-caching for civilians), Field Services, an 8-mile ruck march, and flying in Blackhawk helicopters.  We have never served together in this capacity.  Jordan also played and sang for IMPACT Chapel on Sunday.  It was great!

God has given me great favor with the Installation Chaplain, and he has encouraged and empowered our growth of the new service for Hawaii called IMPACT Chapel. On Pentecost of 2017 (4 June) we launched the “official” theme.  We experienced numerous salvations and baptisms during this quarter, and most notable was the April Easter Beach Service where our attendance reached 210 and we had 12 ocean baptisms!   We meet on the beach every 3rd and 5th Sunday.

God continues to meet our needs and exceeds every expectation. We are too blessed to be stressed or depressed.

Other blessings for the quarter included visits from friends and family, as well as conducting a Strong Bonds retreat for Single Soldiers.  I also traveled to Ft. Knox and visited 120 of my Soldiers there.  They are providing summer training to ROTC Cadets. I gave 3 field services and had a handful of counseling sessions.

At the end of May we Finished up 5 months of study on the Marriage Enrichment Workshop at Main Post Chapel.  Our average attendance was 15-18.  In August, I’m going to kick off a Biblical Parenting class.

Recently the promotion board results came out and I’m on it.   I should pin on Major in December or January.

We also sold our home in Louisiana, which was a HUGE burden lifted! Thank you for praying.

But for me, the biggest blessing of the quarter was with something very unexpected from my wife Tracy. She applied for PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) President, and was selected!  This is a big step for Tracy, and her sphere of influence is huge here on island.  She is an amazing woman who will do great things for the Lord and the ladies of PWOC.

Please pray for:

  • Continued strength and recovery from surgery.
  • Church ministry – salvations and growth.
  • Wisdom to lead and empower.
  • Favor with God and man.
  • Tracy – to lead and encourage ladies of PWOC.

 

For more ministry reports and stories of God working in and though CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  If interested in finding out about endorsement as a military or civilian chaplain, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Calling out to God in Desperation

Calling out to God in Desperation: Chapel Prayer Reclaims Lost Soul

By Chaplain Sean Callahan
US Army Reserve, Deployed

 

This quarter has been a whirlwind as we hit theater in Kuwait, and proceeded to spend nearly half of our time so far traveling to other locations (combat) where our Engineers are working. During this time, I’ve had the privilege of serving in Arifjan’s Zone 6 Contemporary Protestant Service with some really great Chaplains. But before I share how it relates to this chapel, I need to give you some backstory.

About 4.5 years ago, one of my Soldiers gave his life to the Lord after a long bout with drugs and PTSD. He accepted Christ in a mental health ward at the VA, and I proceeded to disciple him over the course of the 9 months he was in a PTSD program. He came out a changed man because of the work Christ did in his heart. He joined a video chat bible study I was leading, and was growing in leaps and bounds. Just prior to our deployment he felt God calling him to retire from the military and pursue a nursing career. Things were going very well: he was running after God, he was engaged to be married in the summer, and he was chipping away at his classes. I was forced to suspend the group as I prepared to deploy, but we kept in touch. Through the many years of discipleship, he had become a great friend.

In the beginning of June, I received a desperate message from his fiancé, saying that my friend, Neil, had stopped taking his medication and relapsed into drug use for the first time in 3 years (he had a very brief stumble before that, but had been largely clean for 4.5 years). He had gone to the VA twice but checked himself out each time and went back to the drugs. She hadn’t seen or heard from him in 2 weeks and was desperate for help. I immediately began praying and tried to reach out. Nothing. This was all the morning of the Sunday I was supposed to preach in the chapel. My sermon was on Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I went to the service, troubled, but committing it to God in prayer. I preached, and toward the end of the message I felt God lay on my heart a challenge: if you really believe in the power of my Spirit, then have the church stand up and pray. I had the entire chapel congregation stand on their feet and told them the situation. I then called on them to pray along with me, and at the end, in unison, to pray the words, “God, please bring Neil home!” I prayed while everyone silently prayed with me, and then together we all cried out three times (for holy emphasis), “God, please bring Neil home!” I closed the service, went to lunch, and then went back to my room to pray.

A few hours later, Neil responded to my text [sent from Kuwait]. His first response to anyone in over 2 weeks. It was dark, and now he wanted to die on top of being in chains to the drugs. I texted him Scripture, encouragement, and tried to keep him on the line until he signed off. All the while I prayed and had others pray. Again, later, he responded. Then, he agreed to get help in the morning. I went to bed praying, but the next morning he didn’t get help. So, my prayer partners and I (to include his fiancé), kept praying. We prayed and prayed the prayer I had said in the service:

“God, open his eyes. Give him a moment of clarity, just one moment, when he can see the truth of his state and what you want him to do. Break the chains. Bring him home.”

On Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours from the time the chapel congregation prayed, he finally worked up the strength to leave and drove to the VA hospital. We had a voice call and I could hear the beginning of change in his voice. He was scared, but needed to get free. He said on Sunday he suddenly “woke up.” He was laying on a couch in a house, and suddenly realized what was happening. He realized he hadn’t eaten in days, he smelled terrible, and he looked even worse. He realized that he needed help.

We spoke every day for the two weeks he was in the hospital, and now he is checked into a 21-day PTSD program with the VA. When I talk to him, he sounds like the old Neil: the Neil who loved Jesus and pursued him with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He has begun to pick up the pieces and get his life right. I believe that God woke him up that Sunday. I believe the Holy Spirit broke through that darkness and the chains that were holding him in place. I believe the Holy Spirit gave him the strength to face his shame and go get help. And now, I believe with all my heart, that God has brought him back like the Prodigal Son. He has continued His good work in his heart, and Neil is back on track.

I told the chapel congregation what happened the following week. People said they had chills listening to it. We all gave thanks and praise to God. Neil’s fiancé was beside herself with relief and thanks to God. She had been ready to give up all hope in prayer, but then God’s people prayed, and prayed, and prayed. This experience will forever remain in my heart as a reminder of God’s gracious presence, and the power of prayer when His people lift their voices together in intercession.

Distance is no hindrance to the efficacy of prayer. God heard a symphony of voices in Kuwait, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and other places, and intervened in Neil’s life in a small house somewhere in Long Island. God is awesome.

Pray for Neil, and his continued restoration. Pray for more opportunities to share the good news with Soldiers. Please pray for strength, as all the travel and the seriousness of some of the issues I have been dealing with in the unit are very wearying.

Pray also for Sean and his wife, Cindy, during this time of separation. Pray for health, safety, and good communication during deployment…on both sides of the world!

 

For more stories of God working in and through CBAmerica chaplains, check out our webpage at www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on what it takes to be endorsed for chaplaincy in the reserve components, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Mid-Deployment Update

 

By Chaplain Scott Noyes, North Dakota Army National Guard – Afghanistan, with Andy Meverden

Mid-point assessments are common in life; in navigation, corporate boardrooms, and even military deployments. Chaplain Scott Noyes sent in a brief, but exciting, mid-deployment assessment. His words are few, but the accompanying “Storyboards” with captions, give depth to their meaning and results. Scott writes:

My Greatest Blessings:

Surviving our first half of deployment has been my greatest blessing. Lots of moving parts here in Afghanistan; including our unit ministry team (UMT) movement. God has kept us safe in travel and has blessed our ministry. My chaplain assistant is a growing believer in Jesus Christ; and I was blessed to baptize him also (see photo below). As I encourage service members and civilians, I have witnessed God’s activity of change take place in many lives. God continues to schedule ‘divine appointments’ that I am able to witness and engage.

My Theme for this Deployment: “Not for busyness – but being about God’s business.” I am not interested in my plans – but God’s. And I have been blessed to sit front row to His show.

Pictures Worth Thousands of Words!

 

Please pray:

  • That I stop trying to please everyone; stop trying to do it all – but focus on the priorities of God; and that I stay energized in body and spirit.
  • Pray for my assistant Rick – that he continues to grow spiritually
  • Pray for our team – 136th CSSB (Combat Sustainment Support Battalion) team/leadership. I have encouraged our leadership to model with better ethics and morals. The tongue has given us much trouble.
  • And finally, pray for our families back home. That the Lord will give wisdom and discernment in managing those areas our Soldiers left void; strength and comfort in our absence.

Respectfully submitted,

Scott Noyes

Join Chaplain Noyes in prayer as he enters the second half of this deployment. Pray for the requests listed above, and especially that he and his team will “finish well!”

For more stories about frontline chaplain ministry, military and civilian, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.