Five tractor-trailers lined up in a smooth arc along the front of Prestonwood Baptist Church, packed with water and diapers and dozens of other necessities bound for Houston and South Texas, where Hurricane Harvey left so many with so little.
As Prestonwood members, volunteers, and students from Prestonwood Christian Academy gathered to pray for a safe journey, Pastor Jack Graham said this was just a first step in what will be a long recovery.
Volunteers sorting donations before loading into truck
“As a pastor, this warms my heart for sure to see Prestonwood people being a part of this,” Pastor Graham said. “But we’re just getting started. Our intent as a church, and PCA and PowerPoint Ministries, is to be there in the rebuilding process.
“We’re connecting with churches in the Houston area so we can be there when the flood tides go down, and help still the storm in peoples’ hearts.”
The donations stuffed into the tractor-trailers are just the beginning, he said.
“Anything that people need, we’re loading up in these trucks. There are five of them leaving today; there will be more on Sunday and more next week,” Pastor Graham said. “We’re going to have convoys carrying more supplies as the days go by.
“We do this in Jesus’ name; we do it in the name of Christ,” he said. “There’s a lot of heartbreak and loss, so we’re going to be there sharing God’s love.”
Volunteers—many wearing bright-red “Prestonwood Cares” T-shirts—spent days in the afternoon sun accepting donations, sorting them, and packing them into the cavernous trailers in the northwest parking lot. They’ll be back at it as more contributions arrive, and more trailers pull up to haul the donations to the people who desperately need them.
Pastor Jack Graham speaking to drivers
Jim Wicker of JW Logistics, the company that provided the trailers and the trucks that pull them, said this first shipment from Prestonwood to South Texas is just the start.
“We have two convoys going out in the next couple of days, and we’ll be going to multiple sites in the Houston area,” said Jim, a longtime Prestonwood member. “We have additional supplies coming into our facility in Dallas, and we have three more trailers scheduled to carry those to Houston.
“And we’ll continue to have trailers on site at multiple locations through our partnership with Grace Bridge and Prestonwood,” he said. “And as those fill, they’ll be going down to Houston.”
The tractor-trailers are just a part of the Prestonwood response to the hurricane.
Gathering for prayer before trucks depart
Josh Rolf, Minister of Missions Mobilization, said members of Victim Relief Ministries are serving at the Dallas Convention Center, where many of those who lost their homes in the Houston area have found shelter.
A team of chaplains has departed to work with Victim Relief Ministries in Refugio. And another group is preparing to serve in the hardest hit areas around Houston.
“Probably the coolest thing is the organic nature of our members who heard about the problems in South Texas and just got into their cars and went,” said Mike Beeson, Director of Local Missions. “We know of several Prestonwood members who went down to help fish people out of the flooded areas.”
“The response has been amazing,” Josh said. “People went into the flood, into the storm, and they were down there pulling people out of the water.”
PCA third grade students praying
People interested in helping locally and in the Houston area can find a list of volunteer opportunities by clicking here.
In the short term, though, much of the work at Prestonwood is being done by the carload. Families from the church, Prestonwood Christian Academy, and other Christian schools and churches pull onto the parking lot by the Missions building, dropping off items that help meet immediate needs.
Cases of water stand in tall stacks. Boxes of snacks are tucked carefully into the trailers. Bags filled with necessities—clean, dry clothes in particular—will bring unimagined comforts. One donor left a man’s pinstripe suit and a complementary dress shirt with French cuffs.
Nearby, volunteers with big rolls of tape build boxes that are quickly filled and sealed.
Prestonwood Cares truck by JW Logistics departs
“There’s not another church in the country doing this (to this extent),” Josh said. “It’s pretty amazing to see this outpouring of love.”
Carter Morris, the President and CEO of Grace Bridge, a longtime Prestonwood member and former minister on staff, stood near the big trailer and talked about one of the greatest challenges he’s ever faced.
“We’re sending out five truckloads this morning,” he said, “sending things to meet immediate needs.
“And we’re collecting and sorting clothing and furniture for when people can get back into their homes,” whenever that might be, Carter said.
He paused for a few moments, volunteers swirling around him, and considered what these busy days have meant.
“Obviously, the support and love we’re seeing here perfectly represents our love for Jesus and His love for us,” Carter said of the storm victims. “Their Creator cares for them.”