Converge churches working together in wake of hurricane

by Troy Emenecker
News

“We are…rooted, reaching, better together.”

With one simple click, a visitor to the Converge web page can find these words used to describe its mission. Rooted in the gospel. Reaching locally and globally. Improving as it moves forward. Coming together as a family of churches to encourage and strengthen one another.

For Cypress Community Church near Houston, Texas, “better together” has taken on a new meaning as its congregation looks to rebuild and strengthen its body in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Cypress Community lead pastor Justin Moore and his family were forced out of their home, along with four other church families living on the same street.

“We had had a flood in the area one year ago, but no houses were affected,” Moore said. “Even as water was coming into the yards, no one was super worried about it.”

While Moore and most of his neighbors did eventually head to safety – “We left right on time. When we came back, there was two feet of water” – one church family was stuck on the second floor and had to be rescued.

“Watching boats driving through the neighborhood, it was a war zone of sorts,” Moore explained. “The joke in Houston was that after a while, nobody knew what day it was. But we’ve grown stronger because of this.”

The flooding forced Cypress Community out of its home, nearby Lamkin Elementary School, for two weeks, though church members opened their home on September 3 for a Sunday brunch service. Moore said it was a chance to come together as a body.

“Meeting together as a church, as a family, it was needed,” he said. “It allowed us to see how everybody was doing and just breathe a little bit.”

Moore was also active on his and the church’s Facebook pages, helping him “keep tabs on our entire church body, know who was okay and make plans for the future.”

Broken hearts compelled to action

 That church family has extended past the borders of Cypress Community Church and out to Aubrey, Texas, about 40 miles north of Dallas. Church of Celebration Metro, based in Aubrey, has helped Cypress and other communities rebuild in Harvey’s aftermath, and continues to serve in Southeast Texas. After the hurricane hit, COC Metro sent a few members of its staff and congregation to Houston and Southeast Texas to aid in saving hundreds from the floods.

“As we saw the images of the damage and despair on our television screens, not only did our hearts break, but we were compelled to move into action,” COC Metro senior pastor Brad Wilkerson said. “Three of our men went to the Port Arthur/Beaumont area with their flat-bottom boats to rescue people. Others gave financially and have been a part of the ongoing recover and rebuilding process. It’s been simply amazing to witness the church in action.

“Jesus told his disciples, ‘They’ll know you belong to me by your love for one another,’” Wilkerson said. “We’re all part of the ‘one another’ and the response to Hurricane Harvey has proven that no matter your race or socio-economic status, your life matters. When we bond together in unity through the love of Christ, there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished. Our efforts will continue, and will be ongoing for well over a year, but with God’s providence and provision, we will continue to be better together.”

Converge Southwest has raised nearly $200,000 for relief efforts. Teams from COC Metro and Dallas-area-based Movement and Revolution churches will start heading down to Cypress this month to begin restoring the homes of several church families, including Moore’s. Moore said 13 homes are in need of rebuilding, seven on his street alone.

In the meantime, demolition has already begun on Moore’s street, Retreat Trail. Despite the street’s name, Moore hopes God will advance his love through Cypress Community on his street and throughout the neighborhood.

Showing people what Jesus is all about

“This is a really good time for neighbors to love neighbors,” he said. “Even more than just fixing our homes for ourselves, we want to make sure we’re helping our neighbors fix their homes.”

Having served on church staffs in the Houston and Austin areas for more than 12 years, Moore has seen what churches can do when they come together. However, the response by the Converge family was unlike anything he could have expected.

“I’ve never seen anybody come to the aid of a pastor or people like Converge does,” he said. “I really feel they care for me.”

Cypress Community’s relationship with Converge is a “breath of fresh air,” Moore said. “Converge is involved and hands-off at the same time, if that makes sense. They will give you the tools and the guidance to succeed, but also the space to grow as a church in the community where you exist.”

Bringing the gospel to the local community, even in the midst of a hurricane, remains the mission for Moore and Cypress Community as they look to the future.

“This is a hard time, this is a sad time, but this is an exciting time to really show people what Jesus is all about.”

Troy Emenecker is a guest writer. He attends a Converge church in Arizona.

    Point - Summer 2018

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