More Than Faith

Hurricane-weary people who hadn’t eaten in days and were too exhausted to travel another 30 miles to refuge in Houston’s Astrodome found their way to Baytown, Texas. Area shelters and motels filled up quickly with several thousand displaced people. And the Alliance Bible Church went right to work.  
     “We wanted to fill in the gaps that the larger organizations couldn’t,” says Bill Allen, an elder at the church. “So we adopted one motel and went door-to-door, asking the people their names, ages, and their immediate needs beyond food and shelter.”  
     The volunteers brought lists back to the church, where every church member was encouraged to help. “It was a way to engage the people,” says Allen. “They could fill the needs on the list and deliver them personally to the evacuees.”  
     Several local churches have joined the effort, collecting clothes, infant formula, hygienic items, and more. With these supplies, volunteers were able to fill most of the needs. Then, if they felt led, the good Samaritans could go the extra mile, having people to dinner, taking them to the store, bringing their medicine, or inviting them to church. The 200-room facility is housing 8 to 10 people per room. “There is one extended family that has 95 members staying at the motel,” Allen says. 
     There are hundreds of stories of survival. Hazel Wilson, her daughter, and one-year-old granddaughter, were stranded in their apartment for four days after Katrina struck. “When the water receded in our area,” says Wilson, “we were able to go out and look for food, wherever we could find it. But we had to be back in the apartment by dark.” The sounds of looters and vandals terrified the women. “I prayed, ‘Lord put your arms around me and my children and block us from any harm that is out there,'” relates Wilson, who was unaware of the whereabouts of a son, another daughter, and two grandchildren.  
     Through text messaging, Wilson reached her brother, who had evacuated but left a truck in New Orleans. He told her where to find it. “It took us two days. When I found it, the truck was locked. I didn’t have a key,” says Wilson. Knowing she needed help and would have to risk asking nearby looters, Wilson prayed first, “Lord, please don’t let them hurt us.” When she approached four youths for help, one whispered something to another. “That guy said, ‘Man don’t do that. The lady has a baby. We need to help her.’ I thanked God for His protection.”  
     As the vandals-turned-helpers broke into the truck, an overhead police helicopter was warning looters that they would be arrested immediately if caught stealing vehicles. Wilson was afraid they would land and arrest her. “Would they believe my explanation?” she asked. But the helicopter flew on, the boys hotwired the truck, and Wilson “tore out of there.” Later she was reunited with the rest of her family, and they headed for Texas. “I know it was faith that saved us from the hurricane, protected us from harm, and brought us here [to Baytown]. I thank the Lord every morning I wake up,” says Wilson. 
     Other local churches that have collected supplies and clothing are helping the Alliance church fulfill the needs of the displaced people. “The pharmacies were filling prescriptions for free,” says Sandy Allen, Bill’s wife and the church’s Alliance Women president. “Every request we received to fill a prescription was answered with the needed medication.”  
     “We are building relationships,” says Allen. “There wasn’t a speck of mistrust or worry about race. Just people loving and caring for each other.” 
     More than 20 people from the motel attended Sunday worship services in the Alliance church that averages 150 people. “Many were in tears because of the generosity of our members,” says Allen. “We asked them not to give [during the offering], but to receive God’s love and blessing. But, gratefully, they gave. Our offering was double the usual amount.”  
     The church’s goal is to sponsor five families who want to remain in the area. “Already, some have found jobs,” says Allen. Church members want to be involved. “People who are normally quiet in church have come alive,” he says. “They have found something they have in common beyond the Christian faith—Christian action!”


Get Involved...


We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »


Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »


Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »