May 21, 2024

同軛手記 A Yokefellow’s Chronicle

Pastor Amos Lee 李英柏牧師

My wife, Ruth, and I have been in Houston the last three days. (Prior to that, we were in the Greater Los Angeles area for a week.) We got to visit some of the folks who were affected by Hurricane Harvey exactly a month ago. One had her home gutted but which has since been mudded-out (cleaned out of mud). She lost everything. Everything she and her mother had, had to be thrown out and carted away. Another family had their down stairs gutted and they had been hit three times and recovery for them seemed like an “eternal” process because they still had not recovered from the last two hurricanes and now was hit with a third! Similar stories echoed throughout the community – some affected more so than others. Most Chinese Baptist churches are not affected but many of their congregants are, especially those who live in areas in the path of water being released from the reservoir which was full and overflowing from more than the 52 inches of rain that fell within a short few days as Harvey hovered around the area.

The sad thing about some is that those who were living in areas not considered flood-prone were also affected by the deluge. They could not buy flood insurance ahead of time because no insurance company would sell it to them!

Houston is just as busy as ever and seemingly back to normal but with parts still under water after a month, the recovery efforts is going to be a long one. U-Haul trucks that used to bring cooked meals to those living in shelters and distribution centers are mostly gone and many of these had moved on to Florida to continue the recovery efforts there after Hurricane Irma. Still thousands remain in shelters.

Even with the semblance of normalcy in Houston, residents here carry with them emotional scars from the trauma of being dispossessed and experiencing lingering fear – fear triggered even by the sight of dark clouds in the horizon, thunder and rain. Psychologists have warned caregivers and others to be careful about what they say to such and to always lend a listening ear.

Churches in the area have really shined for Christ in such a devastating wake. They were indeed the first responders. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Teams were already on the ground and at work way before the federal government could send in theirs. It’s no wonder they are not getting any funding or allocations from Uncle Sam while other agencies are getting hundred of millions of dollars for their efforts. This is because, I believe, they have done such good work in more ways than one for nothing in return! Churches have opened their doors to take in those displaced by the flood from day one! And people are just amazed by the compassion and love of Christians and are willing to take a new look at the church that they once considered irrelevant. Praise God! I have heard stories of people who started to attend church to find out what made Christians “tick” and what made them do what they did! This has always been the strategy that God intends for the church to reach people for Him – to be as salt and light in a world that has lost its way – so that they may thirst after God and God’s people can shine the light to point them to the Truth who will set them free! In a dark world, it is always God’s intention for us to light a candle than to curse the darkness! And the world is dark indeed! And should we be surprised? We are living in the end times! The Bible reminds us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

It’s been a great experience visiting fellow pastors in the Lord in both the Greater Los Angeles and the Houston areas. A couple of them drove at least two hours each way to come and meet me. I am truly humbled! A note of thanks to the leadership of the regional Chinese Baptist Associations that make those sweet times of fellowship possible. May God keep building a spirit of camaraderie among us so that we can truly be yoke follows in the Lord to further His Kingdom work through the CBF of the US and Canada!

過去三天,我和妻子路得來到休斯敦探望一個月前受到哈維颶風影響的華人浸信會會友們。(到休斯敦之前,我和太太在洛杉磯一星期。) 我們探了一位失去了她和她母親所有一切的會友,另一位會友從上兩次颶風水浸屋的影響仍未恢復過來,現在屋子又被水浸第三次了!類似的故事在整個社區多不勝其數。雖大多數華人浸信會的教會都未有受很大影響,但很多他們的教會會友,特別是那些因被水庫放的水溢出而水浸了屋的會友, 也有那些没有購買洪水保險而浸了屋的會友,災情惨重,真是令人非常傷心 。

雖然休斯敦已回復像以往一樣繁忙及恢復正常,但部分地區仍有不少積水,也仍然有數千人住在收容所中,重建社區將會是一件長期艱苦的工作。這裡休斯頓的居民還帶著情緒上的疤痕和體驗水災後的恐懼和創傷來面對前面挑戰 ,心理學家已經警告看護人員和其他人士小心對災民說話,並總要專心傾聽他們。

休斯頓教會在這次有毀滅性的水災中都能為主發光,美南浸信會救援隊比聯邦政府救援隊更早 在災塲進行救災了。教會已經打開了大門,從第一天教會救援隊去搶救流離失所者!人們對 基督徒的同情和愛心感到驚訝,並願意重新看待他們曾經認為毫不相干的教會。讚美神! 我聽說有人開始參加教會聚會,想更了解是什麼使基督徒會做他們要做的!這正是讓上帝 和上帝的子民可以在世上作光作鹽的最好機會,使他們渴望得到神的亮光得到真自由!在這 末世的時代,聖經提醒我們:“我們行善、不可喪志.若不灰心、到了時候、就要收成。“(加拉太書6:9)