Rancho Cucamonga church raises over $50,000 for Houston church hit by Harvey
Sept. 09--RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- Less than a week after asking its congregation for help, Hillside Community Church raised more than $50,000 for a church in the Greater Houston area to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The partnership between churches was actually formed several years ago when Bayou City Fellowship cared for one of Hillside's own, pastor Aaron McRae.
McRae and his family were taken in by members of the Bayou City Fellowship on two different occasions while McRae's daughter was being treated for a brain tumor at a nearby hospital.
After seeing the widespread damage caused by the hurricane, McRae asked his congregation last weekend to donate at least $10 for their relief efforts. He thought the request would garner about $20,000 in donations, said Teri Godwin, communications director for Hillside Community Church.
As of Thursday, the figure had exceeded $54,000 and counting, she said.
"Our congregation is generous and we're delighted that in a week's time we're able to help people," Godwin said. "We're praying that local churches will also rise up."
Hillside created a link on its web page to collect the donations.
Because of the deep ties to Bay City Fellowship, McRae and Jeff Gokee, the pastor in charge of missionary work and service project, decided to also visit the region.
"That church really cared for (McRae) and his family and Houston has always been part of our family ever since," Gokee said.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, McRae and Gokee spent a part of the time praying with the Bayou City Fellowship's staff who had spent the previous 11 days helping the public.
"We just don't want to be involved in immediate efforts, we want to be part of the long term solution," Gokee said.
The rebuilding process, he was told, will likely take more than two years.
After learning more about the fellowship's plans, Gokee said his church will likely encourage volunteerism in the months to come.
The duo from Hillside also spent a portion of their time assisting with the distribution of clean-up supplies. Gokee said he met a man who was walking into his home for the first time since fleeing the rising waters. They helped him rip out the drywall to prevent mold from building up. The homeowner, Gokee said, became emotional as he recounted his rescue.
"He was telling us the story, and it was heartbreaking," he said. "The boat showed up and when the man had told his family he would stay behind to protect the house. His neighbor told him, 'The house doesn't need you, but your family does.'"
As they stood on the street, he could see a portion of the lawn that was torn up by the propeller of a boat. He also noticed all the homes on the street had been tagged with the letter C, which meant it had been searched during rescue efforts and was cleared, Gokee said.
"We are so grateful for the partnership of Hillside and many other churches across America," said Bayou City Fellowship Worship Pastor Robbie Seay in a statement. "We are seeing the church come together in a time of crisis, and together we can do many great things."
Those interested in donating can visit hillsiderancho.com/harvey