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July 22, 2015, 2:40 PM

Sharing God's Love – in the Year of the Flood!

At First Christian Church, San Marcos, we have been emphasizing different ways of sharing the love of God in our lives. We have been practicing how to be more aware of the people we know and don't know. We have been sending cards of encouragement and friendship, honoring our people in uniform, greeting strangers at store counters with a warm word, and even learning to forgive those who hurt us. In the month of July our emphasis was feeding the hungry. As individuals and as a group we can feed the elderly and homebound via Meals on Wheels. We can provide food to the many hungry in Hays County by contributing both food and cash to the Hays County Food Bank. As the old jingle goes, “Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven!”

In our community, three factors combine to make our desire to feed the hungry especially critical.

1. We live in a very poor community. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas only has 4.3% unemployment, and San Marcos has only 3% unemployment. However, despite the low unemployment numbers, people are poor. The US Census Bureau reports that Texas has 16.2% of our population below the poverty line. But in San Marcos the number is 35.6% below the poverty line. That's more than 1 in 3 people in our city who live in poverty. Why? Not because of our student population. It is, according to the San Marcos Daily Record report on poverty, because the jobs in San Marcos do not pay well enough for a person or family to afford to live, to pay bills, buy food and clothes, rent or buy an apartment or home. That means many “working homeless” families, and many missed meals.

2. This is the year of the flood. Memorial Day weekend experienced the worst flood along the Blanco River in recorded history. At least 5 of our FCC families were directly hit by the flood, with two of the homes completely destroyed. Our families are at this time in safe, secure places, but the loss has been very great.

After the flood the response to help everyone was truly wonderful and amazing. In our own church so many of you contributed hours and days to the clean-up efforts. Others did laundry for our many volunteers who lived for almost three weeks in our church building. Some provided supplies, others food, others bedding and clothing, others furniture and beds, and still others contributed cash to help our families.

This has been a very humbling experience. In our denomination, Week of Compassion, our national and international service ministry, contributed money to FCC to help flood victim families, and they also came to review the disaster areas, and will continue to provide support and assistance for the rebuilding efforts in the fall. Other organizations also came to Hays County, including Samaritan's Purse, Hope Reigns, Americorps, Austin Disaster Relief Network, and many, many others. They came from all over the country. Most were Christians. Many had been victims of disasters themselves, and now are part of a huge team of first responders to natural disasters across the county.

There is still much to do, until our own church members and all displaced families finally have a home to live in again. We will have opportunities in the immediate future to volunteer, to host volunteers, and to provide help with the huge reconstruction projects being planned together in a four-county area including Hays, Guadalupe, Caldwell and Blanco.

3. It is summer. That means food for children through the school system is not available to those qualified for food subsidies. For our adopted school, Mendez Elementary, about 95% of the students qualify for food subsidies. In the summer they do not have access to school meals. Add to this that many of the Mendez students live in the area of town which has the cheapest housing—the flood plain. So now, many are without a place to live, and still without food to eat. This is a time for us to redouble our efforts to supply food to the Hays County Food Bank. In a normal summer they run short of needed food, but this summer the need is greater than ever.

Jesus said of his own acts of compassion, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Not greater in substance, but greater in numbers. We are the hands and feet of Christ. This is a time for us to remember who we are. It is a time to give, to share, to feed, to build, to love.

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