Friday, November 17, 2017

Making Connections for Eternity!

Our focus on connecting resources to needs allows us to reach deep in the communities we serve with strategic ministry efforts. With three back-to-back hurricanes, CSM has been deeply involved in disaster relief while also continuing to create lasting change by bringing healthy living, educational advancement, improved homeownership and spiritual formation to Birmingham. Lasting change impacts communities for generations which is why CSM is heavily investing in kids, families, and education.
Summer camp at True Vine in Inglenook

This summer, we mobilized 10 interns to kick off two new local camps with partner churches. Tutoring, additional educational opportunities, mentoring, and meals are ways the camps impact the lives of vulnerable children. Through our community gardens and garden center, we teach kids about nutrition, science, gardening, and even how to build hydroponic systems! Our campus is host to hundreds of students who volunteer and learn how CSM assists the Church in Birmingham to effectively minister to those in need.

Two charter buses arrive at KAA from Birmingham with Tracy
For the last 26 years, Tracy has organized city-wide trips to Kids Across America (KAA) in Missouri so that youth who would typically never be able to attend a world-class Christian camp can have a life-changing camp experience. This annual KAA trip has become an integral CSM outreach to the communities we serve. Deedee went to KAA on a trip Tracy led in 1991, and then attended KAA as a chaperone this past summer with her daughter Samone and two bus loads of kids from Birmingham! Deedee’s life had been profoundly impacted at KAA camp, and was blessed to see her daughter experience the same thing sixteen years later.

Tracy with Deedee and daughter, Samone
A long-standing and memorable tradition at KAA is the large bell that is only and loudly rung when a camper wants everyone to know that they have made a decision for Christ. That bell was ringing so loudly this year, the angels could hear from heaven! To know that our ministry of connecting resources (in this case, camp fees, paperwork, chapperones, and charter buses from Birmingham to Branson, MO) to needs (in this case, kids from under-resourced communities where we serve with our strategic partner churches) is impacting generations for eternity gives us the confidence to ask you to join with us.

Investing in the educational and physical health of our youth is transformative. Our volunteers and donors are making a profound impact with lasting change for generations. We can do all this because of God’s grace and your commitment to invest in CSM. We are inviting you help us make an additional 3,500 connections in 2018! We are raising $105,000 to resource 3,500 more connections to create lasting change in many lives. Thousands of families NEED OUR HELP! Please designate your donation to CSM by December 31st. You can go online to make your donation at to help CSM make more connections for eternity.

Kids arrive from Birmingham 
Canoeing for the first time!

Godly and loving KAA counselors
Camp is a new experience
Don't ever look back!
Our CSM summer interns ran the camps...
 and poured the love of Jesus on the kids!
Samone thanks you for helping to make camp possible for her

Cooking Well Observed by Caitlin Sloane

Cooking Well class creates community
Community is so important. As humans, we thrive on our innate ability to connect with those around us. We have evolved to find many ways to fulfil this need. We connect to others through culture, language, food, geographic boundaries, perceived norms, common interests and values, and health risks and conditions. Some go to church, others join book clubs, dance classes, walking groups. Some simply enjoy being amongst friends or peers in social settings, such as the grocery store or farmer’s market. As a future Registered Dietitian and current Graduate student in nutrition studies, I have learned to value the importance of having a community. When we feel supported, our own health, as well as that of the nation, is positively impacted.

Caitlin Sloane,
Samford Dietetic Intern,
brought her extensive
culinary and nutrition
expertise to Cooking Well
during her rotation at CSM
With this in mind, I have been honored and excited to spend these past few weeks working with Judy Vann at Christian Service Mission, as we bring together strong women in the community of Birmingham to cook, laugh, learn and eat together. At the Cooking Well Lessons, a 6-week series loosely stylized after the USDA Eat Healthy, Be Active program, individuals learn skills that will not only help them in the kitchen, but that will also help them to make healthier choices and think about their food culture differently. Lessons involve culinary tips, such as how to properly cut a red onion, as well as a 20-minute-long nutrition class. The hands-on cooking, as well as nutrition education, bolster each other in showing class attendees new and innovative ways to think about their food and health. I think I must have smiled for 3 hours straight, as I watched participants share food stories, life stories and troubleshoot the ins and outs of preparing a home cooked meal.

Allie Sanderson teaching culinary skills to everyone
On week number 3, we made a colorful and vitamin packed Greek Panzanella salad, with several organic vegetables from the garden at Christian Service Mission. Sometimes, buying fruits and vegetables can seem too expensive. When you factor in the concept of purchasing organically, it can add a whole new level of stress! For this week’s nutrition education, I focused on sharing the “Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen” with Cooking Well participants. We learned that some fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe and avocados do not need to be grown with pesticides, which can be toxic when eaten in large doses, and that others, including spinach and strawberries are best purchased organically because of their pesticide content.

As we made our way back to enjoy the lovely dinner we had prepared together, we felt more empowered. We gained new knowledge and insight into just one of the many ways that we can take charge of our health, for a happier and healthier community.

Caitlin chatting with the ladies from Bethel Baptist at dinner after class

ThankServing Day 2017

It's that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder and we're drawing nearer to one of our favorite events! No, I'm not talking about the Iron Bowl. I'm talking about our annual statewide Thanksgiving food distribution - THANKSERVING DAY! Every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, our staff and our partners gear up for the mad rush of collecting, packaging and delivering over 4,000 Thanksgiving meals to families all over our city and throughout our state!

Tracy at his best
As far south as Montgomery and as far north as Huntsville, we utilize our partnerships and relationships with over 20 churches to capacitate and facilitate our very large Thanksgiving outreach event. Over the couple of years, this event has grown from a distribution of around 1,000 meals to this year distributing over 4,000 meals. The only way we are able to accomplish such a feet from our large warehouse with a small staff is to work in conjunction with about 1,000 volunteers, 23 distribution sites, 40+ pastors and church leadership and several schools and churches delivering their bounty from very successful canned food drives! All of that working together provides us the opportunity to distribute over 4,000 meals to reach 4,000 families in partnership with their local church.

One such partnership is one that has been forming and functioning for several years between Oak Mountain Presbyterian, Urban Hope Community Church and Christian Service Mission. CSM sends the food, Urban Hope and Oak Mountain pack the food and then in partnership with Fairfield City Schools, Urban Hope distributes the food to the community after a Gospel presentation from pastor Alton Hardy of Urban Hope.

Turkey and grocery distribution from the dock
Everything that we do at CSM is to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If there is one thing that we are thankful for during this season of giving thanks, it's that our Savior came and died for us and for those that are packing these meals, those that are distributing these meals and those that are receiving these meals. There is no greater calling than the one that God has called us to love our neighbors and make disciples. Thanksgiving is an awesome opportunity to do both on the same day!

Connecting resources to needs through the local church... now that is responsible care. What good is a bunch of food to feed 4,000 families for a day, unless it is used alongside of the Gospel that feeds families for eternit? A huge shout out to all of the people and partners that have helped make this initiative possible, and may God continue to bless our efforts and multiply his kingdom through CSM!

A Note From Tracy Hipps: My Father Knows Best

Tracy Hipps, CSM Executive Director
I wake up everyday day with the voice of my Father, ready for our time together. I cannot wait to sit down to listen to my Father’s words. My Father knows me best and loves me more. In December 1977, I was adopted into my Father’s family, and I have never looked back. Today, 40 years later, my Father calls out my name and knows every hair on my head. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is so intimate with me and meets me in this place. He knows what is best and what I need daily to live, breath, and serve Him.

I have been asked over the last few years to write a book about my stories, and I always say, “The book has been written, and it is The Word.” Over the last few years during my daily journaling I have written devotions that come from my time with my Father. The last couple of months, every journal entry has been about my Father. I have one voice that echoes in my head, and that voice is my Father’s. I remember what my Father says when I need to respond to situations. I listen for the voice of my Father as I lead the CSM team daily. I talk about my Father to all who will listen, and I repeat what He says through the day.

My Father knows best when it comes to relationships and with whom to invest. For me, my greatest praise is the relationship I have with my children as their father. My Father knows best when He is teaching me how to be a father and now, a grandfather. I love being with my grandkids and watching them grow up. My grandson, Kyler, just celebrated his 5th birthday. My prayer is that my son will be the best father he can be for his sons. I have learned to be a father only by spending time with my Father.

This article is not specifically about CSM or about our work and accomplishments. Because without the relationship with My Father, I would not be where I am, and CSM would not be where it is. CSM is an amazing place to serve, and I serve alongside amazing people who are all walking in relationship with our Father. We are a family of servants walking in the path and guided by our Father. This holiday season, my prayer is that my Father would become your Father and that we will walk as a family.  We do service because we are called to serve, but our stories are what we will take with us into eternity. My Father knows best and He loves you the most.

CSM Boots On The Ground in Texas

Aaron and team from Birmingham in Texas on recent disaster relief trip 

In response to the flooding in Texas after the hurricane, CSM sent Housing Ministry Project Coordinator Kirsten Agee and her husband Tim to Texas to prepare for CSM Housing Ministry Director Aaron Parsons and a work team from Magic City WoodWorks. They traveled together from Birmingham to be there the entire following week to help partner ministries by installing sheetrock at Hillcrest Baptist Church and repair damage on KeeKee Youman’s house.

Kirsten shared, “We were expecting the area to look like New Orleans with all the blue tarps but it wasn’t like that.  We did notice that a lot of businesses were closed and small piles of debris at the road so either they got the cities cleaned up fast or there wasn’t as much flooding in the areas we went through.  The hotel we stayed in had damage on the 1st floor but the rest of the place was functioning fine.

Kirsten Agee
We got the tour of Hillcrest Baptist Church by their young pastor. They had no damage in the sanctuary which was certainly a God thing since every other building had flooding. They had already done all the gutting necessary for the repairs to be done. They had an electrician in to check the wiring and they got the ‘ok’ to install the sheetrock in every area except their oldest building. Sadly, they are going to have to bring that building up to electrical code before anything else can be done in there, which was not an expense they were counting on. Part of our team finished installing all the sheetrock except in their offices.

Next we went to KeeKee’s house to assess it so we could purchase the materials needed to do her repairs. We determined the only storm damage she had was to her roof as it was leaking in a few places.  The other damage to her house was from several leaking windows that had a lot of rot around them.  We decided that if we didn’t help her, no one else was going to. Tim figured all the materials the team would need and we headed off to Home Depot – a mere ½ mile away. When we asked about a delivery to be made in the next few days they just laughed. HD was about four weeks out on deliveries, so we had to shuttle the materials ourselves. Six trips later, everything was at her house awaiting the team.

That afternoon we went to assess the house of one of the Hillcrest church family. They had about 2 feet of water in their home during the storm. They had already gutted the damage and were ready for work to be done. Unfortunately, they did not have flood insurance. They said they had lived there 50 years & never had flooding. Tim figured up the materials they would need so they could price it out and make a plan. They said they would just have to work at it as they had the funds. Meanwhile, this sweet woman is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and had just had surgery. We were sad to leave them, but learned that the damage in Texas is deeper and more difficult than the eye can easily see.”

Aaron was so moved by the experience in Texas. Most of these guys who traveled to Texas had come to MCWW to learn a trade. Part of their training is to see what it is like to serve, which is why they decided to do this trip with Aaron. He says that at first the guys were hesitant about the work involved, so he broke them up into groups to work on different projects. Aaron was able to work with the same guys the whole time on the roofing and had a great time to watch them enjoy serving while working hard and well. They had Bible study in the evenings where the guys would give examples of things that touched them during the day. The mission was intended to not only serve, but also to minister to and alongside the team from MCWW in a way that was life-giving. The church also served them by feeding them, giving them a taste of Texas.

When KeeKee shared her story of what all she has been doing since the hurricane and how she has been serving so selflessly, the work crew from Birmingham was overwhelmed at how much she had sacrificed to help others after the storm. Giving her contact information out to neighbors in need, she basically gave up her life for the six weeks following the storm. After hearing her story, the team felt that it was a really good reason to be there serving. Then the church leadership told them that the work they completed in two days would have taken the church team three weeks. They were so very thankful for that, and the crew was humbled to have served them.

Aaron laughed, "Fifteen guys in a house with one shower…  It was fun. Every evening was a lottery to get in the shower. Part of the bonding process was staying together. Several of the guys are interested in doing work with CSM in Birmingham. Made some great friends. It was an incredible trip."

Magic City WoodWorks posted after the trip, “This time last week our team was in Port Arthur, TX. We had the honor of serving an amazing family and church who put it all on the line during the recent hurricane that hit Houston and surrounding areas so hard. We went down to help but quickly realized that our team greatly benefited as well. We had a blast on our 11 hour van rides (yes, one van). We became roommates for a week. We stopped in Louisiana and ate alligator (cultural experience). We honked the horn like crazy passing state lines. We took our skills and talents and put them to work for our neighbors to the southwest and did our best to leave it better than we found it. Thanks to @csmission and RJ Mechanical for everything. If you have ever thought about shutting down your operation before to go serve after a catastrophe strikes, you should. It's an amazing double sided experience that we will cherish forever. Texas Forever.”

CSM is connecting resources with needs, and honored to be “boots on the ground” for the Body of Christ in many places.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Note From Tracy Hipps: We Serve At The Pleasure Of The Father

Tracy with Roger Byrd of Bob's Bikes who donated 30 bikes
to help with transportation needs in Puerto Rico 
I have always been moved by the statement, “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” I heard it yesterday on TV as one of the President’s men were speaking. As a believer in Christ, who has been bought with a high price, the Bible says, “So you must honor God with your body.” To me that means, “I serve at the pleasure of my Father.” My life is not my own.

Last month, God anointed CSM with an assignment perfectly aligning with our mission to “connect resources with needs.” On the same day Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Lord set us on course to be a part of the relief efforts with His people for His people. I can tell you exactly where I was on the CSM campus the day the Lord gave us the assignment. On that day, trucks and people came just as they did in April 2011, people whom God had given the same assignment. Together we served at the pleasure of the Father. When an assignment is given, God gives the blessing (strength and resources) to fulfil the assignment for His glory.

This specific assignment was to share resources with our partnering churches in Texas for the people whom they already serve. We reached out to CitiIMPACT, one of our national disaster relief partners, and The Forge in Houston. Together, we are serving communities in Houston alongside a network of 24 churches sending 5 truckloads filled with more than 100,000 pounds of supplies to that area. We reached out to a church in Beaumont, Texas, sending much needed supplies to their community. This church partners with a local church in East Lake, and we provided support to strengthen a church relationship at a critical time.

Sent with love from Birmingham
God gave the assignment to serve Texas, and we did our best to accomplish that assignment. However, the biggest blessing for me was to serve the area of Port Arthur, specifically the Coast Guard where my son Tal serves. This has become a permanent assignment for my son and his family to serve for the eternal good. We sent a semi-truck of supplies to care for the Coast Guard families who were affected so they could continue their first-responder work with the knowledge that their needs would be met. We sent laborers and financial resources to help with reconstruction for Hillcrest Baptist Church which was badly damaged during the storm. Hillcrest is also where my son and family attend. The Lord has allowed us to serve the church and serve the community. In the next couple of weeks, we will send a CSM team to Port Arthur to aid in cleaning out and rebuilding homes so that we can continue to serve the Lord with the gifts He has given us.

Our next specific assignment followed quickly with Hurricane Irma. The resources continued to come in letting us know that we were to serve in Florida as well. We sent several truckloads of water and resources to aid the areas in South Florida, Bradenton, and Highland counties. God brought a pastor and his family from Miami for whom we provided chainsaws and yard cleaning tools. They mobilized their church to serve people affected by the storm in the community near their church and in the Florida Keys where many houses have been destroyed.

Water Filters 
The assignment continues with Puerto Rico, working again with CitiIMPACT to send resources to the island. It was important to us to know that the money and resources you have donated would be used effectively and safely as we sought ways to aid the PR. Thankfully, CitiIMPACT has churches and logistics contacts in the area who could let us know exactly what they need. We serve at the pleasure of the Father who guides us at CSM to “connect resources with needs.”

This time, the assignment involves construction supplies, tools for rebuilding, and bicycles. We were told that bikes are needed for transportation since the roads have been widely destroyed and fuel is unavailable. As soon as we put the word out, individuals and business owners answered the call and 30 brand new bikes along with water filtration units, cleaning supplies, buckets, blankets, and other asked for goods were shipped to FL to be put on a container to PR.

When you serve at the pleasure of our Father, you serve the One who owns all the cattle, land, ships, and production by man. We serve at the pleasure of our Father who is immeasurable and unlimited. We can measure what we steward. To date we have sent 33 commercial trucks, 750,000 lbs of resources to over 50 churches, 1 cargo container, and we have served thousands of people. The immeasurable impact is the effect on the people serving and being served. The effect God has had in the lives of people all over this country as His people serve is immeasurable. “God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

CSM exists to “connect resources with needs” and to always serve at the pleasure of the Father who gives us all assignments to glorify His Name. “God can do anything, you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 MSB) We serve at the pleasure of our Father who knows our name, who hears the cry of the people, and assigns us our duty.      

Friday, October 20, 2017

CSM Experience Impacts Intern

Lee Baxter, Samford University
Nutrition and Dietetics Graduate Intern
Cooking Well is our six-week healthy cooking program designed to be a springboard for discipleship and relationship in the communities we serve in partnership with eMeals and Samford University. Lee Baxter, our most recent Cooking Well intern from Samford’s Nutrition and Dietetics Master Program shared some observations from her experience.

"Cooking Well is looking to bring life-long change by engaging face-to-face and building trust in under-served communities with healthy lifestyle encouragement and education. Christian Service Mission has been building relationships with church and community leaders all around Birmingham, and paving the way for Cooking Well to dive into some of the most under-served areas of our city. Cooking Well is an opportunity to teach with purpose and effectively reach a community through a non-threatening platform.

I loved hearing the testimonies from some of the recent course graduates. It was awesome to hear them express their own personal journeys and new levels of success with their health goals and lifestyle changes. I can also see the on-going individual and community impact the program has had by the way they are already teaching and encouraging others. 

Lee teaching the Cooking Well nutrition segment
Cooking Well is tackling health equity barriers head-on and can reach a wide array of groups. Faith is foundational to the success of the program since the local churches are the portals to serving these communities. 

I love the “trifecta” of culinary, nutrition education and fellowship embedded in the Cooking Well class structure. The fellowship component is a key element of support and relationship that underpins the information and skills they learn in the classes. 

I am excited to see how Cooking Well continues to grow and develop and what each group get out of it. It will be diverse in successes as it is diverse in the groups that go through the course. I loved being a part of Cooking Well."

We appreciate Lee's hard work for CSM during her rotation as an intern and on-going involvement with Cooking Well as a volunteer. If you would like more information about Cooking Well, please contact Judy Vann.

Local Hero Helps With Disaster Relief…

Daniel, Michael, Davis, Jake and Sam 
The last month and a half has been a roller coaster ride around CSM. We have been taking in and sending out donations almost every day since the first weekend in September. We have needed a lot of helping hands to make that possible. As a small staff, we rely very heavily on our volunteer base to accomplish all the different tasks and facets of our ministry, and this past month and a half has proven that time and time again.

Jake Pratt (L) and the Vestavia crew were here working hard
to help Michael (R) sort water to send to disaster areas
There have been days that we have received truckloads of donations for the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Many of these donations were unexpected on our end, and desperately needed on the other end. To meet these emergency demands, often without any way to quickly sort, palletize and ship those donations out, gave us the opportunity to see God’s hand at work!  Seemingly every time a truck, a large donation or a need arose, God sent us people to meet that need! One such volunteer that has been with us for the last two years is our local football hero Jake Pratt from Vestavia Hills High School.

Jake and his friends from VHHS have been coming to CSM for the last couple of years to help Michael Bowen every Thursday afternoon during the school year with our food/garden ministry. This month they have been 100% dedicated to joining in the CSM disaster relief efforts. Jake has had a busy senior year at Vestavia as he made the varsity football team, scored a touchdown in his first game, and got to do an official recruiting visit to Clemson University... not to mention his school work on top! However, Jake has remained committed to his service with us at Christian Service Mission amidst all of that.  Jake and his friends have been so consistent and so helpful this past month and a half to come in and box up water bottles, sort clothes and organize donations to send to those affected by these hurricanes.

To Jake and the rest of the Vestavia Hills ‘High School to Work’ Program, thanks a ton for your continued partnership with CSM and for all that you have done to help those in need in this time of disaster! You continue to help further the vision of CSM by helping us to connect resources to needs through the transforming of lives through the Gospel of Christ! You guys are awesome!

CSM Life-On-Life Housing Ministry

Mr. Bruner's neighborhood
Aaron Parsons and Randy Sain are CSM’s experienced construction and engineering experts behind all the reconstruction work of our Housing ministry in our under-served communities. They came in the office the other day excited to share how affirmed they felt in their ministry. “We go out in twos so that we can always pick each other up, no matter what we face in a day. We don’t want to be so hyper-focused on the tasks at hand that we miss what God is doing all around us. Every day we see how man makes his plans, but God ordains his steps. In our previous professional lives, we would have been head-down in our work. Now we see that the work puts us in proximity to people who need Jesus.”

Aaron (right) up on the roof
This is the story they told: Aaron and Randy left CSM one recent morning to check on the Samuel Bruner job, where they had workers replacing his roof. As they were leaving, an older gentleman mowing his yard two houses up the street sees Randy and Aaron and leaves his mower running to hurry in their direction shouting, “Jesus is Lord!” As they engaged in conversation with him this bold believer told them, “I am a street evangelist. This world is my church and everybody needs to know Jesus!” Randy and Aaron affirmed him, “Wow! The Holy Spirit is evident in you. We know the Holy Spirit is here and we are united in Him.”

Randy happy when he is helping others and has on the tool-belt
From there, Randy and Aaron grabbed lunch at a ‘meat-and-three’ near Acipco, where their waitress immediately let them know that she is “a street evangelist… out of the church and into the streets to share Christ.” Aaron says, “We were stunned to meet two people who referred to themselves as street evangelists within a matter of hours.” They felt that God was impressing on them that they were street evangelists, too!

After lunch, they returned to the truck and were about to pull out of the parking lot when we heard a tap on the window. There was a woman who merely said to them, “I am hungry.” Randy leaned toward her and said, “Hey kiddo, how are you doing? My name is Randy. Let’s go inside and get you something to eat.” They went back through the cafeteria line. The server looked at the woman and pulled out a “to-go” box. But Randy stopped him and said, “This is not a to-go order. She will be eating with us.” Then he told her, “Order whatever you would like.”

Completed Bruner house 
As they were finding a table, Randy flagged the “street evangelist” waitress and told her, “I am bringing the street to you! She is hungry and has had a rough time, and she needs prayer.” So, the waitress stopped what she was doing and prayed over the woman in a powerful way. Afterwards, the waitress looked at the woman and said, “You need to know that Jesus loves you,” then told Randy, “I can take it from here.”

Aaron and Randy were clearly moved by all that happened that day. “We knew we were seeing the perfection of God in a very simple thing. That is exactly what Jesus would do… comfort hurting people as a father or brother. We want to be open to engage with people so that they would be drawn to Him.” This is one of many ways that CSM brings the Gospel to Birmingham.

Hurricane Alley

The day after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, we started receiving calls asking if we were going to collect donations and send supplies. Tracy said, “Wait. Wait and see where God is working and how we can work with Him.” Everyday there are overwhelming needs and we can jump to action in many different directions, or we can wait and pray and see where He is leading us.

By day two, we had connected with a national disaster relief agency who we have worked with in the past and who shares the same heart and mission of empowering the local church by providing support and logistical help when needed. This was the perfect group to partner with for these disaster relief efforts. They had workers in the affected areas assessing what was needed at each location so we could customize the supplies for them.

As you know, this has turned out to be an incredibly destructive hurricane season. We have had the opportunity to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico because of your generosity and support.

Twenty-four trucks were sent to Texas with locations in Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Baytown, Rosenburg, Texas City, and Nederland carrying 486,362 pounds of relief supplies! Nine trucks were sent to Florida with locations in Bradenton, Ft Myers, and Hialeah Gardens bringing 237,797 pounds of supplies ready to help the people. Members from our Housing Ministry team and CSM volunteers are on their way to Texas to help with some of the rebuilding efforts this week.

Last week, we sent a container to Puerto Rico with 14,000 pounds of critically needed supplies, including water filtration buckets and bicycles donated from individuals and Bob’s Bikes of Homewood. We are so honored to be a conduit for your outpouring of love and support to those in desperate need around the country.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Note From Tracy Hipps: Seeing God’s Hand — Even in the Storm

All hands on deck during disaster relief
This month Harvey arrived, lingered, and left behind a path of destruction and then Irma struck Florida and we are watching the Church be the hands and feet of God. In the wake of Harvey we were asked to assist with resources for Houston, Port Arthur, and Beaumont and then Florida. CSM has been in a position to help in the aftermath of both hurricane disasters with truck-loads of supplies. This is what we do: the Lord provides the resources and we open our hands to give to those in need. As of today, we have sent 20 trucks to Texas and 6 trucks to Florida totaling more than 600,000lbs of resources.

To recognize the hand of God, all we have to do is watch, listen, and connect with people. We see the Lord’s hands move here every day. We watched God provide resources to help in Houston in inexplicable ways. God provided the opportunity to share resources with friends we have served with for more than 20 years. One of our warehouse partners, MedMission, had gloves and masks that they were able to donate for us to send, critical items for dealing with flooding and clean-up.

One of our church partners, New Rising Star, had plans for a pastor from Beaumont, TX to guest preach but he needed to stay home and we were able to provide resources to his church after Harvey damaged so much of their city. The majority of the resources we have sent have assisted faith partners, providing resources to share the love of Christ with the people of their city.

It is important for me to acknowledge the hand of God moving in places. My hope is that people will see Him and believers will be encouraged and those whose hearts are being stirred towards God will see Him and be amazed. Port Arthur is located between Beaumont and Houston. My son, Tal, and his family live in Port Arthur where he serves as a first-responder with the Coast Guard. His family evacuated ahead of the storm, but Tal stayed to work and serve. After Tal reported damage to his town, church, and first responder’s homes, we were able to send supplies and a volunteer group to help clean and rebuild. My son has worked hard during the days after Harvey and I am proud.

To come along side what God is doing you need to labor where you are gifted in the place and season of your calling. My friend is the Executive Director of 'The Forge' in Houston. He has used these times to unify the churches so they can work together to help families in need. Antioch Church in Beaumont has used the four truckloads of resources to serve their community with the Gospel at the center. And, Hillcrest Baptist, where my son and his family attend church in Port Arthur, was almost entirely flooded. This week we have people there helping to restore it, sending with them supplies to encourage and share the Gospel with the community of Port Arthur. $10,000 needed to be raised for the restoration of this this church and as of today it has been done. My son and family are seeing the hand of God in all of these miracles.

As a ministry leader, community servant, man of God, and a father, I recognize God’s hand moving, acknowledging His actions in connecting resources with needs, and giving Him my hands to work and in praise for what He has supplied. His hand is at work by answering prayers and allowing CSM to come alongside what God is doing.