Within days after wind and rain wrought by Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, General André Cox witnessed The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster services. The General not only encouraged families who’ve lost their homes and possessions, but he took note of covenant-fulfilling service by area soldiers—many of whom were victims of the storm’s wrath.
“I met with dedicated officers, soldiers, employees, and volunteers who are so selflessly serving others, often working incredibly long shifts to try and meet the needs of those affected by this tragedy,” the General said.
“I spoke to a soldier who, in spite of losing everything himself, is at his corps every day to help others!”
General Cox was told of one officer’s son, who took the family’s boat out to a nearby flooded neighborhood and rescued 40 stranded people on his own. The General marveled at hearing of the soldiers in Beaumont, Texas, who decided to forego their Sunday morning Holiness Meeting in order to wade through the waters to the Army’s warehouse where they’ve been working ever since—distributing food parcels and cleaning supplies.
In another corps nearby, Port Arthur, the building was destroyed as well as all but one of the soldiers’ homes—yet they are working valiantly at other Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service Centers.
“Advisory board members are providing hands-on practical support, as well as utilizing their business and strategic expertise to help us manage this incident,” he said.
The General met with the behind-the-scenes team in the Incident Control Room, and personally met with soldiers and volunteers preparing to roll out their well-stocked and garrisoned mobile canteens for another day of feeding in flooded areas and disaster shelters.
Among the most heartbreaking, and yet encouraging, scenes was in a neighborhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward, where the homes of some 2,000 families were flooded.
“My heart was moved to see street after street where people’s ruined possessions were simply piled up on the sidewalk, and they have been left with just the shell of their house,” he said.
Through an interpreter, General Cox told the mostly Hispanic residents, “We’re here to tell you that God is with you, and we are here with you—and that we will continue to be for the long haul!”
General Cox witnessed firsthand the structures and systems that enable The Salvation Army to provide a swift response, mobilizing our people and resources to provide practical and prayerful support to real people in real communities.
“My visit here enabled me to see this practical expression of our faith,” he said. “to witness the outworking of our sacred covenants, and to see what social holiness looks like in reality!”
Acknowledging that although, sadly, we live in a world where tragedies strike, an event like this reinforces the truth that The Salvation Army needs to be “the church on the street” living and working with the people in the mess and vulnerability of life.
“I am struck by the enormity of (this) task; but I am reminded that we have an even bigger God!
“There is a place in our world for The Salvation Army, and we still have a mission to fulfill.”
—Major Frank Duracher, Assistant Editor