The Words of the Jenkins Family

Out of Despair Hope Rises in Houston

Michael Jenkins
September 3, 2005

(ACLC in Houston with Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings, Rev. Jenkins, Pastor and Mrs. Ethel Hayes, Rev. Hernandez and George Brewer)

Brothers and sisters, the suffering is great and the tragedy astounding, however the reality is that the people we met at the Astrodome are for the most part people of faith who have come through a great trial in their lives The focus of much media attention has been on on the emergency relief efforts, the suffering and the separated loved ones. However, another story is emerging that gives hope and encouragement. It is the story of the people themselves overcoming the tragedy with an incredible spirit of determination and hope. I saw the greatness of the church community and the greatness of America in Houston. The greatness that comes when people of faith come together and sacrifice themselves for all people, both those with faith and those without. When people of faith lead the efforts to comfort and care for the people it has a very special quality of multiplying faith.

Yes, the first step is to save the people from danger, then feed, clothe and house them. That is being done in Houston. What is the next step? Give them Love and Compassion and get real with the people. They have been through a devastating trauma, they have no homes, they lost everything, all belongings, important papers - basically everything. They have what they were wearing and that's it. For some the loss is not measurable, some lost their loved ones. Some are still searching for them.

The State of Texas is doing a tremendous job, also the Red Cross is there in force. At the Astrodome I saw massive truckloads of food and tremendous organization and care for the people. They are getting the basic needs taken care of there, and its being done with care. Americas heart pours out for the Gulf Region and especially the people of New Orleans. Americans are trying to give support and sustenance to our brothers and sisters in need. The need that is most prevalent in Houston at this time is very real and tangible. Food is well taken care of there, clothing is needed. The trauma and circumstances must be addressed and I see the religious community coming together in a great way to fulfill this need.

Rev. Bennit Hayes of Gloryland Baptist Church has made his church (which is just a couple of miles from the Astrodome in Houston) the ACLC Emergency Relief Headquarters. He is calling upon all ACLC pastors to support this effort in Houston.

Rev. Hayes was one of the key organizers for a special meeting at Rev. C.L. Jackson's Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in which Houston city councilman and other city officials gathered to address the needs of the thousands of refugees who have poured into Texas from New Orleans. Tens of thousands are coming and some estimates are that 200,000 refugees will be given temporary support there. We should all take a moment to thank the people of Texas for what they are doing because it is a massive act of care and compassion.

Archbishop Stallings and I arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday. Rev Mark Hernandez and Mr. George Brewer picked us up and Rev. Hayes organized a meeting for key pastors with us at Gloryland Baptist. Rev. C.L. Jackson of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Rev. Melvyn Lewis, Elder Scott of the Church of God in Christ and other pastors joined in. As we began to meet one of Rev. Hayes ministers came in with a big smile. Rev. Hayes said, "She is smiling because her family took the Rodriquez family from New Orleans into her home. The children and the family, who are Christians who were housed in the Astrodome are among the 25 families that Pastor Hayes has found homes for." ACLC is needed there in a big way. Of course there is need everywhere but somehow Providence has placed Rev. Bennit Hayes, our most prominent ACLC National Board member at the center of the storm. He is an able captain and determined to win victory for the people. Bishop Stallings and I now pledge that ACLC pastors from the whole nation will stand with Rev. Hayes to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the people. God is there in Houston and every Christian leader that steps up to sacrifice for the people magnifies that light and the warmth of God's love.

From the meeting with Rev. Hayes we went with his wife Minister Ethel Hayes to the Astrodome. As we approached the Astrodome the we could see the people of New Orleans everywhere, all around the dome on the sidewalk and in the parking lot. They were there, almost in a daze.

We entered through a special area for Pastors and caregivers and entered the arena. Its one thing to see it on TV but when you go inside it is quite a shock. It is a city of people under the dome. Red Cross stations are there with volunteers with computers registering and giving medical attention to the sick and injured.

We were stopped by the first family who saw us. Sister Brooks was so happy to see the clergy there. (Archbishop Stallings had his collar on). We shared with her and prayed and were quite surprised with the spirit of this mother and her children.

It was difficult for them to get out because one of her sons is bound to a wheel chair from a injury sustained a couple of years ago. There was no way for them to get out - not with the wheelchair. Somehow they could get everyone including the child in the wheelchair onto the roof of their house and then after a two days, they were picked up by a rescue boat and brought to a bridge.

She was strong, she came through the trial with faith. She began to testify right away, we believed and trusted in God she said. We go to church, but our church is gone now. She shared that the bridge was quite difficult. It was so hot and there were no restrooms so the people were suffering greatly. (Actually they were quite lucky that they made it out alive).

Still, the whole experience was unexpected. It was so different than what we had been seeing on the news. She was smiling and filled with the spirit of love. Bishop Stallings and Minister Ethel Hayes prayed for her. I offered her a donation for her family, she took the offering and said Reverend, I want to plant this seed in Minister Hayes church" She gave the $40 to Rev. Hayes and said we gave this for God and pray that others can be helped.

Rev. Hayes organized transportation for the Sunday morning service. Rev. Hayes was asking everyone to come to the parking lot of the Fiesta store across the street from the Astrodome. They sent the vehicles and many came. Rev. Hayes wanted to show the people of New Orleans that we are brothers and sisters,

The following day the Brooks family came to church and there was a celebration for them and many other families who came from the Astrodome. Pastor Hayes took her $40 offering and showed the congregation. Because of that sacrifice one family was deeply moved by the spirit of this mother and based on Pastor Hayes call to embrace the people, they opened their home for them. The Brooks family was crying. They joined the church. They couldn't believe it. The love of God is real !!! This is the spirit of Jesus. God did not bring the storm, rather God extended his love through the people.

Pastor Hayes called and said that it was so inspiring, that mother's heart to give the money to God actually multiplied to become a nice home for this family. God is real and the sacrifice of the people of faith is multiplying the inspiration that people feel to help others. Its contagious !!! Now we need to support Rev. Hayes to back up his service to these families. 25 families have already been taken from the stadium into Christian homes. This is personal and it has profound impact on the people.

He said we are people of faith and we are caring for our family. He shared that his concern at the government agencies have their crucial role to play but they can't get that close to the hearts of the people and give the most important element the people need to bring peace and hope in the time of trials, that most important element is love and care and the confirmation that God is with them.

One of the people saw us praying with sister Brooks and approached Rev. Mark Hernandez asking him to pray with her. She had been so frustrated. For two days she was looking for her relatives and couldn't find them. When you are there in the Astrodome you can understand why. People can't just stay on their cots 24 hours per day, there is a whole city milling around looking for family and trying to figure out what happened to their lives. She had been looking and looking for her daughter and her grandchildren.

She asked Rev. Hernandez to pray with her. He gave his sincere prayer to find her daughter and grandchildren. While they were praying she shrieked -her daughter and grandchildren ran up at that moment. All were in tears. That is the power of God. How important that we take our ministries into the Astrodome with Bishop Stallings and Rev. and Mrs. Hayes. How important it is that we bring God's heart and love to the people. The people are on edge, if they see the light of faith their faith will be kindled, if they see the ugly darkness of fear, and hopelessness, some will be taken down that path of despair. Leadership is needed at this time of crisis. Leadership with love and faith !! This is why Father Moon is now going to visit Twelve cities of America.

Rev. Hernandez went on to minister to another family. There were four generations, Great Grandma, Grandma, Mother and Children and â?. Lawrence. Lawrence is the fiancé of Danielle Bierria (the mother), the children are from a previous marriage. Rev. Hernandez was giving his sincere care and compassion. (Rev. Hernandez has a special gift for compassion as one of the central Hispanic leaders True Parents has raised, his family and ancestors endured and suffered a lot to overcome and be a spiritual leader for America). He asked Danielle and Lawrence what they needed. They said, "We are Catholics and what we really want is to be married by a Catholic Priest. Rev. Hernandez smiled and said just a minute, I'll get Bishop Stallings. Bishop Stallings came and carefully spoke with the couple concerning the faith and commitment. He asked them if they are really committed to never divorce and never be unfaithful. Do you really want to get married he asked them. Danielle has such a beautiful shyness and her smile revealed that it was like a dream for her. Especially in this circumstance. The Archbishop then spoke with Lawrence with such a Fatherly love. It was really a beautiful moment. They were committed. I had my Holy Wine in my pocket !!! They shared the covenant of the Holy Wine (we blessed ration water with the holy wine and put in the cap of the bottle. Danielle took it with both hands and drank, then Lawrence received it.

Bishop Stallings did a formal Catholic wedding ceremony. Rev. Hernandez read from the scripture Genesis 2: 19 - 25, then Pastor Hayes read I Corinthians 13 about what matters most - LOVE.

Bishop Stallings had them exchanged vows and prayed for them. During the prayer suddenly many people came around and held their hands above the couple in prayer. Grandmother Trina Stephensen sat on the cot and with a smile held her hands over the couple, so did the great grandkids, so did Great Grandmother Rhonia. Four generations were a witness. God is real, don't you love Him? He is pouring down on the Astrodome. His people are suffering and his people of faith are on the move to heal his children.

Then with rings on loan from Sister Hayes and Rev. Hernandez they exchanged rings and shouts of praise and clapping rang out from the second level bleacher seats at the Astrodome. As the loud rejoicing rang out, people on the floor stood up and waved. It was unreal. There no amount of suffering that can extinguish our hope for our people and for America if we turn to God and build his family and kingdom. No amount of suffering can extinguish the hope of his people.

Bishop Stallings pronounced them now as a Blessed Couple and asked them to pledge to never divorce and never be unfaithful. They embraced and kissed. Please brothers and sisters. Let's embrace America with Faith, lets send our resources and give our time there to lift up our people with Faith. The people are prepared and the churches are ready !!!

We went onto the floor and the stark reality of families who can't find their loved ones hits you as you see a make shift station in which you can post you relatives names and hope they respond. On a big piece of cardboard torn from a box the sign reads Lost Person Station. This area brought back such a serious feeling to Bishop Stallings and I. . It reminded us of the postings at Union Square during 9/11 when families of those that were lost in the twin towers posted pictures and notes praying to find their loved ones. There was a long line there of people registering more information concerning loved ones.

Bishop Stallings made a sincere appeal as he embraced another beautiful family. He called for ACLC to come to Houston, focus on the Astrodome with Rev. Hayes and bring healing and comfort to the people who are in pain.

Finally we met Sister Collette. She testified to us. Its all about faith. Only God can really see you through on this kind of trial. She said, "I want to testify that my faith has been tested by it has also been strengthened. I stayed on my roof and then on the bridge and learned something I will never forget. I saw people being boated to the bridge and coming through the water to the bridge. I saw people lose hope and panic."

She shared that some coming through the water to the bridge saw the water rising again as the approached the bridge lost their hope, lost control, panicked and drowned right before her eyes. She said she saw the meaning of faith. Sister Collette said, " Fear without faith can only see the reality of the present and be overcome by it, while faith goes beyond the reality of the present and focuses on the hope of the future." Despair only sees only the present, faith sees the hope in the future. Faith keeps you going through the trials. That's why America needs Faith at this time. Faith to overcome the trials and tribulations by an old world that is crumbling. Faith leaders are needed to pick up a torch and light the way for America to see a future that is a World of Peace.

It was clear in the meeting that the Christian leaders of Houston are organizing rapidly and the spirit of the Lord is there. They have forgotten totally about normal day to day business and Pastor Hayes has made his church the ACLC headquarters for Love and Service. Pastor Hayes is sacrificing everything and has made his church the center of Love and Compassion. Let us now launch True Parents tour of Love and Compassion for America.

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