Star of Hope is among many Non Profit Organizations Houston! And, during Hurricane Season, it has been one of the few Shelters Houston Texas which remain occupied during the some of the storms. The closest storm in my recollection--as for many of us--is Hurricane Ike, Fall of 2008. However, the stories I want to share today--the FIRST day of Hurricane Season--are from Hurricane Rita...
Still ministering to the evacuees and victims of Hurricane Katrina--a human flood coming from Louisiana and Mississippi to Houston and the surrounding areas--Star of Hope's Women and Family Shelter began to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Rita. With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina still on everyone's mind...we were working with frightened, hurt, confused, abandoned and broken people leaving all they had--even loved ones--behind.
We as staff were used to working with those dealing with the "storms of life"--unemployment, drug addiction, abuse, and brokenness. But, this STORM was different--these precious men, women and children were clinging to the last few things they had left in this world--EACH OTHER!! The trauma was real...the fear was real...and, they were about to experience it all again!! Now these families and individuals faced a new threat; another STORM of life...Hurricane Rita...was threatening a direct hit to the Galveston/Houston area.
Outpouring of donations from all across America--Houston Non Profits, Christian Ministries Houston and Houston Non Profit Donations --SOARED. America responded to the material needs of the evacuees who fled to the Houston area. Food, blankets, clothing, water and other material items were coming in by the truckload...an answer to prayer!!
A few last minute buses were able to evacuate some of our residents (elderly, sick, very young)--an answer to prayer. The rest of us "hunkered down" in the cinder block safety of the Women and Family Shelter. I was among about 8 staff members who volunteered to "stay behind" and ride out the storm with the ones who had nowhere else to go or who could not be evacuated. That Friday night we held a Worship service--we prayed, sang hymns, and thanked God for His protection. All the residents and some locals who joined us went to bed early and staff began a vigil to pray and "watch this storm."
Of all the "storms of life" we had helped others through--this was the first one we could actually WATCH the progress and path!! We prayed for the storm to lessen--it was a Category 5; we prayed for the storm to turn--it was due to hit Galveston Bay directly. In the wee hours of Saturday, September 24, 2005, the storm came ashore in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm--answered prayer!
As we woke up Saturday morning (some of us had not slept), we found some wind damage and the lights were out--a generator provided some emergency lighting. Some of those Houstonians who had sought shelter with us as a "last resort" wanted to return to their homes and we all wanted to get on with life. As a few "relief staff" joined us later in the morning, we prayed again--for "light" and for transportation for those who wanted to return to their homes. As soon as we said, "Amen" and lifted our heads from prayer--a YELLOW TAXI CAB appeared in our driveway--an immediate answer to prayer! Staff talked with the cabbie and made arrangements to transport those who wanted to return home. The cabbie even returned to ensure all who had a place to go were taken there. We ate breakfast and lunch in the dim light seeping in through the skylights.
The mood was light, and happy as the residents rejoiced in God's protection, love and provision. And, as more staff began reporting to work to relieve those who had stayed through the storm...the electricity was restored at 2:00pm...it was only out about 12 hours--an answer to prayer!!
So, as this year's Hurricane season officially begins...and, predictions are made...I rely on the only thing I KNOW to be true---God answers prayer!!! In the midst of the storms of life--"hope floats up" as God answers prayer!!
"We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." Psalm 33:20