Outside a heavily damaged church building in the battered Gulf Coast town of Rockport, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation declaring this Sunday a day of prayer in the state.
“As we gather today here at this church, it’s important that we remember that the greatest power that exists is the power of God and the way that God can touch and move all of our lives,” the governor said Thursday, nearing the end of a week in which his state suffered what many are calling the worst natural disaster in American history in terms of its scope.
Abbott was accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, and Rev. Franklin Graham, whose relief organization Samaritan’s Purse is on the ground in Southeast Texas mobilizing volunteers.
“It was God, acting through the lives of so many Texans, who came to the rescue of other Texans. It was the power of God that was able to pull the people out of the water and literally save them,” the governor said.
Declaring “there is no storm as tough as the people of Texas,” he vowed, “We will rise again, and we will rebuild this great town and the affected areas across the entire state of Texas.”
Abbott, who has earned praise for his oversight of the crisis response, said Sunday will be a day to pray for those affected by Harvey, which hit the Texas coast Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and then lingered over the Houston area as a tropical storm, dumping as much as 50 inches of rain on some areas.
He also encouraged prayer for the first responders and the volunteers.
“We will pray regardless of what faith or church background you may have,” Abbott said. “We will pray as one united people, for the future of the state and the future of this country, for healing and for hope, for rebuilding and for the next great generation of Texans.”
Prior to Abbott’s remarks, Graham recalled the Gospel story of Jesus and his disciples in a boat during a storm.
“You’ve gone through a storm, and let me tell you, the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s still here,” Graham told the crowd gathered in Rockport.
He then prayed for the people of Texas, asking for “an army of volunteers from across the country” to help rebuild.
The vice president said he wanted Texans to know that President Trump and the American people “are with you.”
“We are here today, we will be here tomorrow, and we will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before.”
With first responders overwhelmed by the unprecedented disaster, churches and Christian organizations have played an important role in the response, including the rescue effort, as WND reported, and will be relied upon in the long rebuilding effort.
Karen Pence was also asked to pray. She prayed, in part: “Heavenly Father, we thank you for these amazing people, who are an inspiration to us all across the United States and across the world. We pray you would build them up, give them the strength and the endurance as they go forward.”
‘It is right and fitting’
In his declaration, Abbott said “it is right and fitting that the people of Texas should join with their fellow residents and with others from across the country and around the world to seek God’s wisdom for ourselves and our leaders and ask for His merciful intervention and healing in this time of crisis.”
Abbott told reporters Wednesday the Texas National Guard has made more than 8,500 rescues and 26,000 evacuations. He has activated 14,000 members of the Texas National Guard and is asking for another 10,000 National Guard members from other states.
“The worst is not yet over for southeast Texas,” he said.
Meanwhile, two flood-themed drawings that invoke faith in God – one regarded as a mockery of Texans and the other a smear – are stirring controversy.
A political cartoon published Wednesday by Politico depicts a Texas secessionist who attributes his rescue from the flood to God rather than the government.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo ran a cover that reads “God Exists! He Drowned All the Neo-Nazis of Texas.”
The cover image features swastika flags and arms, submerged in water, giving the Nazi salute.
The magazine was the target of an Islamic terrorist attack in 2015 that killed 12 of its staffers after it published caricatures of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.
Responding to a tweet calling his Politico cartoon “vile and contemptible,” Matt Wuerker said: “Just trying to point out times like this we’re lucky to have rescue services. Don’t see how this takes away from private individuals heroism.”
— Matt Wuerker (@wuerker) August 29, 2017
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) August 31, 2017