By Chris Moon
All pastor Greg Garcia could do Tuesday evening was wait.
Garcia, founding pastor of Creekside Christian Fellowship in Needville, Texas, and his wife were in a hotel room, having been evacuated from their home in Katy, Texas, as the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey rose. The last he had heard, hours before, was that the water was at his garage—and it was expected to rise another two feet.
Serious damage to the family’s house and the loss of three cars seemed quite possible.
“If that happens, we’re down to a car. But that’s all right,” said Garcia.
The good news for Garcia was the state of the Creekside facility, which is about 45 miles southwest of Houston with an average Sunday morning attendance of 475. When it was constructed about 10 years ago, the church opted to invest $20,000 to elevate the foundation one foot above the flood plain.
So even though the building sustained some roof damage from Harvey, it was dry inside and was able to be used as a temporary shelter for people being evacuated from their flooded homes.
On Monday, the church posted on Facebook: “If you know people in need of shelter tonight please send them to Creekside in Needville.”
Volunteers from the church are helping those who are being bused to the facility. Some of those volunteers had lost their own homes.
“They figure, ‘I might as well go to church and help others.’ It’s the most awesome thing,” Garcia said.
Creekside already has identified at least 10 homes that it plans to help restore once the flooding subsides—some of them belonging to members of the church and some of them just neighboring homes.
“Whoever is in our sphere of influence,” Garcia said.
Asked Tuesday night what he has learned from the disaster, Garcia was thoughtful.
He said he learned the importance of the word anticipated—as in the water was anticipated to rise and flood his home. And if Garcia’s home was flooded, it was anticipated that his family would be forced to remain away from it for at least a month by local officials.
There’s some uncertainty in the word anticipated. Unfortunately, it was attached to some unpleasant news.
“It’s this really crazy important word,” Garcia said. “It means, ‘This is how your life might change.’”
But there have been some bright spots for Garcia. Since its founding 13 years ago, Creekside has had a motto that “salvation hangs in the balance.” To that end, the church always has made itself available for community activities, like sports activities and school functions, in hopes that people would become comfortable with the church and view it as a place welcome to everyone.
During the evacuations, one young man found himself trying to get away from the floodwaters and hopped on an emergency bus to Needville. The bus took him to the Creekside building for shelter. The young man knew the building because he had gone there as a child for gymnastics.
When he walked in the door, he told the people there, “I knew this church was going to be open for me,” Garcia said.
The pastor noted, “Ministry is for the here and now, but ministry also is an investment.”
To help with Creekside’s hurricane relief efforts, donations can be made to Creekside Christian Fellowship, P.O. Box 1129, Needville, TX 77461. Much more information about the church’s relief efforts are available at its website.