Houston Church Serving the Homeless Receives Post-Harvey Reconstruction Grant

April 17, 2018 • United States
Pastor Edward Buford at Sonrise Community Church said the church is getting on its feet with a Samaritan's Purse grant.
Pastor Edward Buford at Sonrise Community Church said the church is getting back on its feet thanks to Samaritan's Purse grant.

Samaritan’s Purse is distributing grants to help rebuild more than 150 churches damaged by the 2017 hurricane.

Pastor Edward Buford offers a dramatic analogy to describe the recent travails of Sonrise Community Church in Houston, Texas.

Pastor Buford said that nearly everything, including the seemingly-spared sanctuary carpet, is ruined and has to be replaced.

Pastor Edward said that nearly everything, including the seemingly-spared sanctuary carpet, was ruined and has to be replaced.

“Have you ever been in an emergency room when someone passed away and their heart stops? Then you see someone come in and they do something and the heart starts going again? That’s how we feel. We feel like our heart was restarted.”

The church, where Pastor Edward has served for more than 12 years, was flooded when Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas coast on August 25, 2017. A few months later, the church was still hurting. That’s when they asked Samaritan’s Purse for help with repairs and reconstruction.

“Let me be honest,” Pastor Edward said. “If nobody had shown up, we would have had to shut down. We were fighting, but things were getting real bad.”

“Like a Waterfall”

As Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 52 inches of rain on Houston, almost 300 men, women, and children found shelter at the church. But then the church began to take on water.

Flooding damaged most of the church's interior, which had to be removed by Pastor Edward and residents at Sonrise.

Flooding damaged most of the church’s interior, which had to be removed by Pastor Edward and residents at Sonrise.

“It was like a waterfall, all down the walls of the church,” Pastor Edward said.

The rain found its way in through a faulty roof. For days the water seeped down through porous seals and cascaded behind cinderblock and drywall.

The church had no flood insurance, and, being financially strapped even before this incident, they were unable to pay for any repairs. The church’s congregants are also its residents as dozens of people, otherwise homeless, live in the building.

Pastor Edward says the church covers operating costs with funds from one church partner and from carwash fundraisers. So, it was an unexpected blessing when Sonrise was bolstered by a $300,000 reconstruction grant from Samaritan’s Purse.

Now they will be able to remove everything that’s damaged and then replace the roof, walls, flooring, heating and air systems, and a long list of other items. The demolition and other non-technical work can be completed by the congregation—who are not only members and residents but also fill staff positions at the church. This will help the money go much further.

Members of Sonrise are helping provide labor during the rebuild.

Members of Sonrise are helping provide labor during the rebuild.

“Nobody receives a salary at Sonrise. Not even me,” said Pastor Buford, who says he works another job six days a week. “We never close. We’re open 24 hours a day. Where other people say there is no room there’s always room at Sonrise. That’s who we are.”

Even as Pastor Buford explains this, some of the residents use shovels to break up tile cement where the kitchen flooring had been. Soon this demolition will be completed and new tile will go down. This is just one small piece of the months of work left to do throughout the 65,000 square foot facility.

“It doesn’t look that big from the outside, but once you go inside you see that we have a lot of space,” said Pastor Buford.

“God Rescued Us”

Every square inch in the Houston-area church seems to be accounted for with worship space, training space, food stores, and living quarters. This is not a building where the congregation meets just a few times throughout the week.

Pastor Edward shows some of the living quarters where otherwise-homeless families live.

Pastor Edward shows some of the living quarters where otherwise-homeless families live.

“This isn’t just a church,” Pastor Buford explains, “It’s an empowerment program. And it’s often the place where people come when everybody else has turned them away.”

Samaritan’s Purse is providing reconstruction grants to more than 150 churches in southeast Texas that have been crippled by wind and water damage from Harvey. In the case of Sonrise Community Church, a grant made the difference between continuing to serve the community and closing the doors for good

“With Samaritan’s Purse showing up it was like God was saying ‘No, you haven’t failed. I want you here.'” Pastor Edward said. “I love these folks, but it was getting real bad. But God He rescued us. That’s what happened. God rescued us.”

These grants are but one aspect of our larger post-Harvey reconstruction effort in Texas that includes repairing or rebuilding 500 homes and replacing 250 mobile homes.

Please pray for our continued efforts in the Lone Star State and for churches and families as they strive to rebuild.

SUPPORT
U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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