Relief efforts underway in Texas

Pam Noldan, a member at Risen Savior, Austin, Tex., was excited that there was something she could do to help. “When I saw the request for volunteers, I thought we can actually do this. Yes, we can help!”

Pam and her husband Lars are two of the more than 35 WELS members from the greater Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth area who traveled to Edna and Victoria, Tex., Aug. 31-Sept. 3, to offer support and relief to those communities which were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“God has visited us with a burden in our region, and we want to fulfill the love of Christ by carrying each other’s burdens,” says Rev. Donald Patterson, South Central district president.

These volunteers partnered with members of Redeemer, a dual-site ministry with worship in both Edna and Victoria, to address the critical needs of the congregation’s members, their friends and family, and also the community. Wind damage, downed trees, and loss of electricity for a long period of time are just some of the issues these communities are dealing with.

“We’re there to help the local congregation. But they don’t just want to serve their own; they want to impact the community—to shine Christ’s light,” says Rev. Daron Lindemann, pastor at Holy Word, Pflugerville, Tex., and district relief coordinator.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief is assisting with this local effort, including sending several Christian Aid and Relief trailers filled with generators, chain saws, and other relief supplies and equipment to use for the clean-up. Local Texas congregation members donated water, cleaning supplies, and food to help those in need in those communities.

The relief team responded to over 50 emergency requests in Edna and Victoria. While many came from Redeemer members, the word spread quickly that their church was actively responding with a relief team. Friends, neighbors, and members of the community called in requests as well.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief also has already sent $25,000 to help address immediate needs of the congregations and members affected by the hurricane and the flooding.

Lindemann says, “Thank God for our eager and willing volunteers, for safety throughout the weekend at relief sites, and for our witness to Christ’s love. The effort in Edna and Victoria is winding down, and our need to respond to Houston is us upon us. This is the next area of relief work.”

This is just the start of the relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey; as flood waters recede allowing access into the Houston area, efforts will be focused on Houston-area congregations that are dealing with the effects of catastrophic flooding in the area. Some locations got more than 50 inches of rain from Harvey.

A representative from WELS Christian Aid and Relief will be meeting with churches and leaders in the affected areas this week. “After the meetings, then we’ll determine who needs help and what help that would be,” says Rev. Robert Hein, chairman of WELS Christian Aid and Relief. “Texas helps Texas. They’re not waiting for us to come and rescue them; they are already reaching out to help their brothers and sisters in need. We always prefer to do a local relief effort and give these people the resources and the tools they need.”

As Christian Aid and Relief considers how to best mobilize volunteers as they meet with local leaders, Hein says those who are interested in volunteering can sign up online at wels.net/relief or contact Rev. Richard Warnecke, a WELS Christian Aid and Relief committee member, at 262-424-8792; pastorwarnecke@christpewaukee.org.

To promote good coordination of efforts, please direct questions about hurricane relief to Warnecke or to Hein, 262-334-7881; revrhein@gmail.com, rather than to local Texas congregations

Hein says WELS Christian Aid and Relief is not shipping supplies or donated items to Texas at this time. “If you wish to support this relief effort, the best way is to direct financial gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief and designate the Hurricane Fund,” he says. WELS Christian Aid and Relief will then provide funding for supplies and relief efforts in coordination with the local pastors in the affected areas.

Donate to Hurricane Harvey relief online at wels.net/give or by sending checks earmarked for WELS Christian Aid and Relief Hurricane Harvey to WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr., Waukesha, WI 53188.

View previous WELS updates about Hurricane Harvey.

View a slide show from our congregations and volunteers.