Motivated by Love
Reaching Further to Meet Strangers’ Needs
As I sat in my office at home in Cleburne, trying to get caught up on paperwork and other to-dos, I was having a hard time concentrating. The images we had been watching on TV of the 50-plus inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey devastating South Texas, were in my head. They were not allowing me to focus on my work.
I felt like I needed to do something to help the folks down there. I saw on the news that people were being rescued from their homes with boats and they showed a couple of men who had come in from California to help. Seeing that made me think, “If they can come all the way from California to help, then I should be helping, too,” since I was only five hours from the disaster.
On social media I learned that two friends, Randy Peterson and Robin Houghton, had purchased an amphibious vehicle and were heading south to help. This caused me to spend the next several hours trying to call the authorities in the Houston area to see if my jet skis would be any help. When I finally received a response from the Sheriff’s department, they said they had enough boats.
I started thinking of the other ways people would need assistance and it looked as though many residents would need food and water right away. I told a buddy of mine, Ronnie Moller, that I was thinking of bringing supplies to the affected area and he immediately said, “I'm in.” As we discussed what we would do, he suggested we connect with someone locally––possibly the area Adventist pastors––so that we would have a destination for the supplies.
At the time, much of the aid was focused on the Houston area, as the effects of the storm were immediately evident there. We decided to focus to the Beaumont and Port Arthur areas, which had also been hit hard. My wife, Dawn, made some calls and learned that Fernando Leite was the pastor of the Beaumont Seventh-day Adventist Church. We called his cell phone and learned his family had been evacuated from the area. We shared with him what we wanted to do and he connected us with Gloria Harder, a member at his church who had extensive experience working with the community.
We called Gloria and she told us they were in desperate need of food and water. Their water system had been damaged and the water wasn't safe to drink. When we told her we could bring food that didn't need to be refrigerated, along with water, she was thrilled. She said, “If you can bring stuff down here, we can open up the church and serve people from there!” We hung up with Gloria and put the wheels in motion.
I met Ronnie and his wife, Niscah, at Sam's Club where we bought a large number of jars of peanut butter and jelly and all of their bread. We also bought carts full of snacks to help in make lunches and two pallets of drinking water. We loaded everything in our trailer and Ronnie and I headed to Beaumont. It was three o’clock in the morning.
Along the drive, we stopped to pick up other needed items that came to mind. We knew we needed a lot more bread because we wanted to make enough lunches for the people, but every grocery store we stopped at was completely out of bread. We pulled over to get gas at a convenience store that had fuel and found a bread truck right there. After explaining what we needed to the driver, he took us down the road to their warehouse to meet with the manager of Bimbo Bakery/Mrs. Bairds of Madisonville, Texas. He was so incredibly kind that he arranged for us to load up about $3,000 worth of bread, all completely donated. We were in awe of how God was working things out.
Ronnie and I continued our drive and we called Gloria to touch base with her. She said there was a line outside the church that had started at 4:30 a.m. People from the area were waiting on the food and water we were bringing. We drove through 18 to 24 inches of flood water for nearly six miles to get to Beaumont. I had assumed there may be 15 to 20 people waiting at the church, but as we arrived, we saw that there were cars lined up along the road for three miles. Little did we know that Gloria had called a local TV station the night before and had them broadcast that there would be food and water distributed at the Beaumont Church the next morning.
The volunteers at the Beaumont Church were amazing. We arrived on Friday and met with close to 40 volunteers. Together we were able to serve every family that came through. We praise God for the opportunity to serve and the providence He provided.
Afterward, Ronnie and I headed north a couple of hours to the closest hotel we could find. We bought another trailer load of food and water and stopped to get some rest.
When we headed back the next day, the volunteers, which included many people from the community, had swelled to 79. The Sabbath morning service was not a sermon from the pulpit, but rather a sermon of action in the parking lot, serving others in their time of greatest need. That day, film crews from ABC, CBS, NBC and The Washington Post came to the Beaumont Church to report on the effort. Word travels fast!
We used social media to report on what we were doing and many were moved by the Holy Spirit to join in and help. The Joshua Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we are members, adopted the Beaumont Church, as did the Burleson Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Our friends Tad and Michelle Long, along with their friend Nancy Williams, saw what was happening and brought a food trailer down and stayed for five days, cooking hot meals for thousands of people.
I started receiving calls from all over the country and trucks pulling trailers full of supplies came from Florida, Louisiana and other states.
Sergio Covarrubias, a Facebook friend of mine from Denver, saw what was happening in Beaumont and asked if we still needed supplies. He talked to Denver radio station KBPI, who was asking listeners to donate items to send to South Texas. They were able to bring six trucks pulling very long, enclosed trailers full of food, water, cleaning supplies, shop vacs, tools, and a stack of cash and gift cards to help families repair and rebuild their homes. Popular radio DJ Willie B even led the trip in one of the trucks himself.
It has truly been an amazing and humbling experience to witness what God can do when we allow ourselves to be His hands and feet. The effort is still ongoing and will be for the coming months, and maybe even years. Our focus now is on helping families who lost everything get a fresh start. We are identifying and determining what furniture these families need to re-establish their homes.
At this time, we have just delivered our first house-full of new furniture in Beaumont to Treva Johnson and her family. We are blessed to have a wholesale source where we can buy new furniture. We are processing a list of families and are raising money to purchase the furniture they need. Please pray for all those affected, not only in South Texas, but all the other areas hit by other disasters as well. We pray that people don't see us, but rather God working through us, for we know all the glory is His.
Mark Miosi, pictured top left, lives in Cleburne, Texas with his wife, Dawn, and children Zachary and Alexis. Ronnie Moller, pictured bottom left, lives in Grandview with his wife, Niscah, and children Sarah, Trey, Aiden, and Riley. To join the efforts in Beaumont, contact Mark Miosi at firstname.lastname@example.org.