A Category 4 hurricane in Texas, followed by flooding that brought raging water halfway up their front doors, didn't wash out a small congregation 25 miles northwest of Houston for long. Christ United UCC in Cypress returned to their fellowship hall for worship on Sunday, to celebrate the amazing blessings that God is bringing them.
"If you look past the water, you see God's hands at work doing marvelous things in people's hearts – wonderful," Christ United Pastor the Rev. Jeffrey Willey told his congregation on Sept. 10. "Let's celebrate that which we do have."
The congregation does have the opportunity to worship in their facility again, after being displaced by two floods. The first, on Tax Day 2016, severely damaged the structure and sent them worshiping in rented school space for sixteen months. They had celebrated just one worship service on August 20, again in their fellowship hall, before Hurricane Harvey hit.
"After the Tax Day Flood, we worshiped in the parking lot and the congregation was upbeat with expectations that God was going to take the devastation and turn it into something good," Willey said. "And that's exactly what we've witnessed over the past year and a half. We've faced several seemingly impossible roadblocks, only to watch the Lord raise up the right person or send the perfect resource to help us move forward."
But after Harvey it felt different.
"After experiencing worship our nearly finished Fellowship Hall, only to see it demolished the next week, really demoralized the congregation," he continued. "This second time was simply too much to emotionally bear. Yet, since the weekend of the flood, we have once again witnessed the Lord bringing the right people and resources to keep us moving forward."
Moving forward with an experienced general contractor and with the help of lots of community members, the building was cleaned out and fixed up in time for worship in the hall on Sunday.
Willey told those gathered that "God is working on our behalf, moving hearts of pastors and congregations across the country," as he shared with them stories and phone calls from small congregations around the country who told him that "God has sent us to you."
"One couple in Alabama, who had just built an addition to their home, decided they couldn't truly enjoy their addition while our buildings were in need of reconstruction," he said. "So they tithed the cost of their remodeling project by dipping into their retirement savings. Another woman in the church began making custom t-shirts and selling them, dividing the proceeds between Christ United and a charity organization. These people are being moved by God to freely give of themselves and their resources for our benefit. It's overwhelmingly humbling to be the recipient of such blessing."
A UCC appeal set up to help those recovering from Hurricane Harvey has already received more than $200,000 in donations. Offer assistance on this Disaster Ministries page.