Published September 19, 2017
HOUSTON—Paul Matlock, 73, was sitting in his yard, staring into the distance, overwhelmed, when Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers arrived.
Floodwater from Hurricane Harvey had climbed more than six feet inside his home; it was chest high when he managed to escape with his wife Diana, 63, and their toy fox terrier. They had flooded twice before but never this badly. They knew when they left that they would probably lose almost everything they owned. And the sight when they returned confirmed it.
They had just finished restoring their home following last year’s “Tax Day” flood. A granite countertop and brand-new stainless steel appliances lined the kitchen where Diana Matlock enjoyed cooking for friends and family.
Little is salvageable now.
“I spent three days trying to figure out what I had done to make God so mad at me,” Matlock said as he watched SBDR volunteers carry items to the curb. “I’ve lived a pretty moral life. And (the hurricane) affected all of my immediate family and my wife’s family in Louisiana.”
His spirits were immediately lifted when he saw that he had not been forgotten by God—in fact, he was being helped yet again. When the SBDR trucks roll into the driveway, his first thought was to grasp the volunteers’ hands and join them in a prayer of thanksgiving.
“I’m convinced God sent them here,” Matlock said.
For thousands upon thousands of homeowners like Matlock in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast, Southern Baptist volunteers are on-site or making plans to be there to add their labors and share their faith.
Through the North American Mission Board, information on volunteering or making a donation can be found at namb.net/Harvey.
At the Matlock home, SBDR unit leader Brian Batchelder said the couple knew what needed to be done but had no idea how to do it alone.
“We provided the how,” said Batchelder, who attends Broadview Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas. “People need to see Jesus in the middle of a crisis. That’s why we come—so people can see what Jesus means to us and how He can help them.”
When Matlock teasingly asked volunteers not to scratch his ruined truck, Batchelder knew the homeowner was beginning to find hope.
SBDR volunteers say they try to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus, easing the spiritual burden as well as the financial through providing cleanup aid at no cost.
“This isn’t about us—it’s about Jesus,” Batchelder said, gazing at the gold-shirted volunteers working in the Matlocks’ house and debris-laden yard. “We’ll be gone, but He’ll still be here.”
SBDR volunteers expect to be stationed in Texas for many months as assessment and recovery continues. (BP)
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