The Full Circle of Encouragement

The Full Circle of Encouragement

Discouragement is when you build your house on 10-foot high stilts, and you still have flood water that rises halfway up to your ceilings.

The people of Coldspring, Texas, and surrounding areas suffered discouragement when severe storms flooded a large portion of the region in late April and early May. To make matters worse, a severe windstorm had swept through the region, toppling trees and shattering windows in Houston high-rises. The scale of destruction was overwhelming, and it conjured memories of another storm system that flooded and battered the very same area in 2017—Hurricane Harvey.

Amid the mud and muck, the clients were encouraged as they watched gold shirts from California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and New Mexico converge on their houses. They looked on in amazement at our group’s cohesion, our united push toward a common goal, and our embodiment of the adage, “many hands make light work.” There was no bickering. No complaining. No bad attitudes. And when I listened to the Coldspring residents share their admiration, I had to smile.

The Disaster Relief family is such a joy.

When Southern Baptists come together from across the country to be the hands and feet of Jesus—to love people who have had their lives upturned by disasters—we are one big family. Since many of us had served together in Lahaina and other areas, the joy of seeing one another again translated into joy in serving alongside one another… And the clients took notice.

On this deployment, however, encouragement flowed the other way as well. The sheer strength and resilience of these believing survivors encouraged us just as we encouraged them. Take Lawrence and his sister Belma, for example. Not only were they dealing with current flooding while remembering Hurricane Harvey’s similar destruction, but in 1968, their family was forced from their original homestead when construction began on the Livingston Dam. Despite it all, their faith remained strong. Listening to them speak about it uplifted and, quite frankly, humbled me. And the way we connected as the family of God was such a joy.

Encouragement comes in many forms, like when something lost is found again. Specifically, when our team stumbled upon a beaded belt, nice and dry in a zip-lock bag…that had somehow found its way back after it went missing…during Hurricane Harvey!

And then, sometimes, God sends His encouragement to us! Like when I began to wonder: As a chaplain, did my words and my presence even make a difference? And the Lord allowed a series of “coincidences” to reassure me.

Our team had left Texas for home in the early morning, but the Arizona team first stopped into a diner for lunch. While talking to their waitress, they discovered she was the daughter of one of the homeowners who we had helped. The waitress asked if they could get this message to me, who she referred to as, “the lady from Bakersfield.” She said to tell her, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

What did I say? I have no idea.

Perhaps nothing in particular. Maybe just being there and lending a listening ear was a comfort for her. Regardless, I’m so grateful that God used a series of “coincidences” and wonderful relay partners to bring that encouragement back to me. More than anything, this trip taught me that encouragement goes full circle—we encourage people in need, and then we experience that same encouragement when we see the incredible ways God is working.

About the Author

Deana Price
Chaplain, California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Deana Price caught the Disaster Relief bug from her first deployment following Hurricane Katrina. She is a member at Grace Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California where she serves on the worship team and gives leadership in the youth ministry. Deana and her husband Keith have been married since since 1985, and together, they have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

More About Deana Price
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