James and Barbara Guilbeau’s home has seen better days. The outside garage wall was completely rotted out, and the sheetrock in the kitchen had fallen victim to a leaking roof for nine years, thanks to Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Photo by Sarah Ellsworth
Clyde McMinn of Wylie Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, tears off the rotted garage wall at the home of James and Barbara Guilbeau in Houston. McMinn was one of more than 50 volunteers participating in Super Week of Caring, a service-based outreach leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl.
That’s why the Guilbeaus were thankful for a team of Southern Baptist volunteers who are making numerous repairs around their house this week in Houston as part of the Super Week of Caring efforts spearheaded by Texas Baptist Men.
“Many of these individuals are uninsured, underinsured, disabled or elderly,” said Gerald Davis, the long-term recovery coordinator for Texas Baptist Men. “We target that group of individuals that usually falls through the crack.”
Davis said the group decided to partner with the city of Houston during Super Bowl week leading up to Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons to take advantage of the hype and to devote themselves to service.
“At the time, we just knew the (Dallas) Cowboys would be here,” Davis said. “We envisioned ourselves caravanning from Dallas down to help our neighbor in Houston. It didn’t quite work out that way, but we’re here regardless.”
On Jan. 31, a group of seven Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers from Wylie Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, worked on the Guilbeau house while other Texas Baptist Men volunteers did similar repairs at another house a block away in Houston’s Acres Home area.
The disaster relief team at Wylie began about five years ago.
“That’s our calling,” said Clyde McMinn, one of the volunteers from the church. “We’re not preachers, we’re not song leaders, we’re not Sunday school teachers, and we felt that our calling was to do disaster relief and help people in need who have had a disaster in their life.”
“We’re put here to serve,” said Donna Baker, another Wylie team member. “These people need help, and I can help. It’s a blessing. It makes you feel really good.”
Photo by Sarah Ellsworth
Volunteers with Texas Baptist Men replace the garage wall at the home of James and Barbara Guilbeau in Houston. The home was badly damaged by flooding in March and April of 2016.
The Guilbeaus, like many families in Houston, were victims of severe flooding in March and April of 2016 that Davis said hit nearly 2,700 single-family homes and multi-family units. Though the couple recently got a new roof, the damage done by the leaks remained. James Guilbeau is a truck driver by trade, but Barbara’s poor health has limited the amount of work he can do.
“This is giant. This is humongous,” James said of the repairs being made to his house. “It’s an absolute boost for me and my household.”
In addition to the home repair projects, Union Baptist Association (UBA) in Houston offered other events tied to the Super Bowl.
The association has scheduled a Souper Bowl of Caring offering on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, providing area churches an opportunity to collect a special offering to benefit the UBA Mission Centers of Houston, which seek to address hunger in the community.
The Church at Bethel’s Family will hold a tailgate party on Sunday, Feb. 5, to express appreciation for the 50-60 volunteers who are expected to take part in the Super Week of Caring ministry. Davis said the work is being done “because of our calling in Christ.”
David Bridges, a member of First Baptist Church in Houston, said he wanted to volunteer during the Super Week of Caring because he had the spiritual gift of being a servant.
“I just feel a calling to help people who have a need – people who have been caught up in things that are beyond their control,” he said.
Volunteers are completing 21 different projects this week at four different houses. Other projects in the Houston area, in partnership with the city, will be ongoing throughout the year, Davis said, and not just during Super Bowl week. He said volunteers are still needed in the months ahead to help with those projects.
For McMinn, the ministry he’s doing this week comes with great rewards.
“We feel that God gave us these talents and the time, and this is where we need to be and what we need to be doing,” McMinn said. “It’s all about these people, but sometimes we feel like we get more of a blessing than they do.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth writes for Baptist Press and is an associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)