A team of 11 volunteers from The Orchard Evangelical Free Church traveled to Houston, Texas, Oct. 4-8 to serve as part of the Evangelical Free Church of America Crisis Response Team.
The Orchard team spent most of the time partnered with a local Evangelical Free Church of America congregation, Trinity Fellowship Church, located southeast of Houston. The church had been flooded just weeks before, but was still able to house and feed volunteer teams who came to the area to help.
When the team arrived, they encountered front lawns piled with mountains of garbage, appliances and belongings that had been gutted from wet homes. Since the city is only able to remove trash piled near the street, most of the team's work was moving damp drywall, damaged furniture, and destroyed household items from the front lawn to the street.
Team member Colleen Schuberth said, "The incredible amount of drywall that encased everything after sitting outside in the rain and heat for so long looked like a sculpture with each household's belongings on their front lawn."
Although the work seemed never ending, the team was able to meet, listen, offer prayers and encourage the families that they met along the way.
Team member Tom Friske said, "I was surprised by the sense of love among strangers. The (Evangelical Free Church of America Crisis Response) coordinators' attitudes and abilities were strongly focused on serving. I'm more used to work trips where we focus on business, not so much on people."
"(Volunteers) came from different walks of life and circumstances, yet none of that means anything when you're shoveling debris or praying in a circle," said team member Alex Anderson.
"I was touched by the community/neighborhood in which we served. Everyone seemed to be banding together to help each other. That's not to say everyone was heading next door to borrow sugar, but, generally speaking, everyone seemed to have an acceptance that they couldn't take care of things just themselves."
The Orchard plans to continue to send teams to Houston through the Evangelical Free Church of America Crisis Response Team this winter and spring.
The Orchard is a multi-campus evangelical church serving the greater Chicago area. Campuses in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Itasca, Marengo and Northfield each stay true to the gospel-centered mission, while also tailoring ministries to each unique congregation.
Learn more at theorchardefc.org.
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