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2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm

(August 19, 2001)

As the water in Houston’s worst flood kept rising, Ruby Byler’s home looked more and more like a hotel. The three-bedroom second floor represented the highest ground in her neighborhood. By the end of the evening on June 8, a total of 32 guests had made their way to Byler’s residence seeking sanctuary from the storm.

Rapid response: Volunteers put together Convoy of Hope care packets to distribute in flooded neighborhoods.


Byler welcomed all who came calling: a 3-month-old baby, a teen-age girl with a broken leg, a partially paralyzed man. By the end of the evening, some had to crawl through windows because the floodwaters prevented the front door from opening. Byler, a widow, found dry clothes for all as well as enough pillows and blankets so that everybody could comfortably bunk down for the night upstairs. They snacked on cookies, crackers and Gatorade. She had never seen some of the visitors before.

"I wouldn’t have turned anybody away for anything in the world," says Byler, a member of Lindale Assembly of God. "The Lord sent them here. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary."

The flooding, which came as a result of as much as 26 inches of rain in 10 hours from Tropical Storm Allison, damaged 30,000 homes, led to 22 deaths, and caused an estimated $2.1 billion in damage.

The standing water downstairs in Byler’s house ruined her antiques. But she takes it in stride.

"God is good," she says. "All of us in the house survived."

Unlike most victims, Byler had flood insurance for her home. Few residents, even those who had lived in Houston for more than half a century, had ever seen anything like the storm.

For Houston’s Assemblies of God churches, the disaster has provided an opportunity to put the gospel into action.

North Central Assembly of God co-pastor Larry Emerson and many of his congregants have spent the ensuing weeks ripping up carpet, tearing up floors, cutting out drywall and ripping out insulation. A total of 47 North Central Assembly families – nearly one-third of the congregation – had homes damaged by the storm.

"I can count on one hand the number of families in the church who had flood insurance to cover their losses," Emerson says. "There had never been a need before." Emerson’s father, Paul, who is co-pastor of North Central, was one of six A/G pastors who lost virtually all their belongings in the flood. He had to flee to his attic to escape the rising waters.

The A/G churches in the area received clean-up assistance the following week from Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Mo. Randy Rich, vice president, says COH delivered 31,000 pounds of cleaning supplies to churches. Congregation members then made care packets of supplies and went door to door distributing them.

"It’s been a good witness," Emerson says. "The Lord can take a bad situation and turn it into something good."

Congregations have made sure the immediate needs of families are met. For example, North Central A/G held a fund-raising barbecue on June 30 to help flood victims. In the meantime, many people moved in with relatives or into recreational vehicles or motels. Thousands of people had vehicles destroyed by the flood, but insurance covered the loss of many of those.

No A/G church in the region sustained major damage from the storm, but it did flood the South Texas District office. Water had not been a problem since the district office formed in 1954, but 14 inches of water poured into the building. District Superintendent Joe Granberry says the office sustained $107,000 in damage to furniture, kitchen equipment, computers, files, carpeting and walls.

"We didn’t have flood insurance but we will in the future if it’s feasible," Granberry says. He says many members of local congregations will have to borrow money to repair their homes.

"We have solicited donations from our congregation and had a tremendous response," says Lindale Assembly of God Pastor Randy Meeks. "Our priority is single mothers, widows, poor people." Thirty families in the congregation sustained heavy losses.

"Only three of the families had any flood insurance," Meeks says. "Many assumed they had, but they didn’t." Work crews from the church have been busy repairing damaged homes as well as buying furniture and appliances for the worst hit.

The night of the rising water, the Lindale Assembly gymnasium became a shelter for 150 stranded residents.

"Our people have enjoyed discovering one another," Meeks says.

Greens Bayou Assembly of God became one of the busiest refuge centers, in only the second week of service for Pastor Mike Allard. National Guard trucks and helicopters brought 300 families from the flooded bayou to spend three nights at the church.

"The Wednesday before, I had preached from Isaiah 58 about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked," Allard says. "I talked about Convoy of Hope someday coming to our church. The next week they were here."

Thirty families at Greens Bayou had flood damage, with 15 of those homes destroyed. Greens Bayou members distributed COH disinfectants and detergents to 600 families.

"It’s really drawn us closer together," Allard says. "When people lose their belongings it’s almost like a death. They don’t know what to do. Everything they own is out in the yard, and it’s all worthless. All they have is the church."

That faith is what sustained many Christians in the crisis. Widow Eunice Delaney of Christian Life Center kept praising the Lord as the water rose in her home. She climbed a chair and sang worship songs for hours, watching her television set and other belongings float by. As the water approached her neck, rescuers in a boat came in to whisk her to safety.

"She lost all her belongings, but she had peace," Christian Life Center Pastor Richard Rodriguez says.

Several of the churches report that newcomers have been attending because of the outreach efforts. Certainly the disaster will have an impact beyond the summer as people cope with lost possessions, rebuilding and financial strain.

For Ruby Byler, the flood of 2001 also changed her summer vacation plans. "I was going to go on a cruise, but I’ve seen all the water I want to see."

John W. Kennedy

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