"Extraordinary movement of God" occurs in a south Texas town as Samaritan's Purse, Rapid Response Team chaplains, and local churches work together to respond after devastating floods
As the rain-swollen Brazos River crested at historic levels shortly after the Memorial Day weekend, its floodwaters swallowed entire small Texas communities and left destruction—and distraught lives—in its wake.
Particularly hard-hit was Holiday Lakes, a town of about 1,200 people 45 miles south of Houston. The damaging floodwater inundated houses, destroyed property, and breached underground septic tanks—spreading bacteria everywhere.
“[The flood] pretty much covered the entire town,” one Holiday Lakes official said in early June. “It’s getting into 90 percent of the houses.
“It’s devastating, really. It’s going to change this town forever.”
And change it did. But the town’s physical terrain wasn’t the sole focus of change. Far from it. There’s plenty of good news in this flood story. The spiritual landscape was dramatically altered as well.
A Harvest of Souls
In the weeks following the flood, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains partnered with individuals and churches to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Together—some days in sweltering heat—we came alongside hurting homeowners in Jesus’ Name to haul waterlogged belongings to the curb and to rip out damaged walls, floorings, and ceilings. And homes were sprayed for mold, all in an effort to ready them for repair. In total, 373 volunteers invested 7,636 hours to assist 58 homeowners with mud-outs and other jobs.
But we didn’t stop there. Led of the Spirit, our teams walked through doors He opened to share the hope of the Gospel. We praise God that 99 people gave their hearts to Jesus Christ!
Now consider this: according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, nearly 60 percent of churches in the U.S. average 7 to 99 people attending Sunday services weekly. So look at those 99 commitments to Christ in Brazoria County from this perspective: a whole new congregation was birthed. Most of those saved were from the town of Holiday Lakes—astoundingly, nearly 10 percent of residents decided to follow Jesus over the course of this relief response.
“God did something very special and unique here,” said Samaritan’s Purse program manager Randy Corn, who oversaw this deployment. “This spiritual harvest was an extraordinary movement of God.”
We praise God that 99 people gave their hearts to Jesus Christ!
Cere Muscarella, pastor of the Life Foursquare Church in nearby Angleton, which hosted our teams, added: “It was a blessing to have Samaritan’s Purse come here. Their coming was ‘Heaven sent.’ From the first day, people were being saved in their homes, at the shelter, on sidewalks, in the streets. The harvest was coming off the trees, and our people were there to see that.”
Not only did Pastor Cere praise God for all those who gave their lives to Christ during the past four weeks, he’s also grateful for the impact this deployment has had on those church members who took part. This especially included those who initially served as interpreters for our Site Leadership Team members and the Rapid Response Team chaplains at various venues. As they watched the Gospel being presented, they became comfortable and confident to take the lead themselves in sharing the Good News with other residents they met.
In fact, the pastor feels confident the final decision count surpassed the 99 figure, with perhaps dozens more having been led to the Savior by church members as they proclaimed Christ to many others.
“Our congregation is extremely outreach-oriented and our members are very intentional when it comes to evangelism. It’s part of our culture,” Pastor Cere explained. “During this deployment, we served food. We passed out free ice cream. We worked in homes. We helped as interpreters. And when opportunities surfaced, our members took advantage of them and God blessed.”
Many of the people who accepted Christ speak only Spanish, and Spanish-speaking members of Life Foursquare Church proved especially adept at assisting during those witnessing encounters. For instance, Alex Montealegre, one of the church’s Hispanic pastors, was driving around the Holiday Lakes area and passed a man who was sitting on the side of the road, with his head between his legs. Pastor Alex turned around and went back to the guy and they started talking. He encouraged him, but he didn’t end his witness there. Pastor Alex returned to the church, packaged up some boxes of food and went back to man’s home. This time Pastor Alex took two of the RRT chaplains with him. They were able to talk again with the man, along with his son and daughter-in-law. All three gave their hearts to Christ.
Randy Corn remembers another instance when our volunteers went to a home during the evening to spray for mold. The floor had been completely removed, so our Site Leadership Team member, David, had to walk carefully from one joist to another while spraying. Though the other volunteers who came that shift couldn’t spray with David, that didn’t stop them from working in a different way. They still took advantage of the opportunity God brought their way.
“When David finished and came outside, he saw the volunteers playing with the children and interacting with the adults, speaking Spanish to everybody, and there had been three salvations,” Randy said. “Then they moved down the street to another house, and they shared again and had another salvation. They were on fire about evangelism.”
Regarding this devastating flood, Pastor Cere reflected: “People’s hearts had been softened and sensitized, and people knew they needed help. And they were open to Jesus because He’s the Great Helper. When people join hands like this, the world sees the beauty and the strength of the Body of Christ, His church. It was marvelous.”
[Editor’s note: Our response in Brazoria County, Texas, was completed on July 24. Thank you for praying.]