NOTE: This article will also run in the September issue of The Westbury Word, our print newsletter. If you don't currently receive the Word and would like to, please call our office at 713-723-6428.
On Saturday, October 17, 1998, a huge rainstorm caused devastating flooding along the Guadalupe River in South Central Texas. Towns like New Braunfels, Seguin, Victoria, and Cuero experienced incredible amounts of damage to homes and businesses. At the time, I was pastor of First Baptist Church in Stockdale. Although our town was far enough away from the river to escape the flooding, we all knew people who had lost everything. The next morning, we had church as usual. The floods were mentioned and prayed about in our Sunday School classes. I may have mentioned the subject before my sermon…I don’t really remember. But that was about it.
A little while later, I had a conversation with an old friend. Bob had been my Sunday School teacher in my teen years, and was still my insurance agent. He said, “I think it’s a shame that churches had worship on October 18. We should have cancelled services all around this area so we could help our neighbors drag their wet carpet and furniture out of their houses, and help them find places to stay.” He was right. We missed a great opportunity that day. We could’ve shown our un-churched neighbors that Jesus cares about them. Instead, we gave the impression that Jesus hides in a church building when things get tough. Of course, that wasn’t our intention…we were just doing what we’d always done on a Sunday morning.
In a way, that’s the point behind Faith in Action Day, October 11. We’ll be cancelling worship and Sunday School that day so that we can all be involved in ministry in our community. Our website has a section dedicated to this, or you can call the church office to learn more. For years, Christians have operated under the assumption that if we built a nice building, hired a good preacher, and had good programs, people would come flooding in. If that approach ever worked, it doesn’t work anymore. We can’t expect people to come to us. We must go to them. My prayer for Faith in Action Day is that we would show our friends and neighbors the love of Christ in a way they can truly feel, and that we would learn that we can’t just go to church…we must BE the Church. I hope and pray that it becomes so much a part of our church’s mentality, our ministry DNA, that whenever tragedy or hardship strikes our community, we are the first to respond. That’s the way Christ would want us to be. Please pray for this event, and prayerfully decide soon which ministry opportunity you and your family will participate in on October 11.