Blast & Cast Harvey Response: A Story of Discipleship in Action

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

2 Corinthians 4:5, ESV

It’s been a while since I’ve had the clarity of mind to sit down and write. In the aftermath of Harvey, there were just so many pressing needs in our community that every ounce of strength and determination was best utilized pulling sheetrock, passing out supplies, and taking the time to listen. Then, there was my own home to deal with (an effort that won’t be over anytime soon). Now that the immediate need of relief effort has subsided, we’re working on a financial aid plan for some hurting families and trying to get back to normal operations…although we aren’t exactly sure what the new normal is just yet!

Blast & Cast is not a relief organization by nature. We lack the workforce and financial support necessary to become one, and as a grassroots-oriented ministry, our team members are spread thin throughout Texas and Louisiana while living and working amongst their respective communities. Our mission is clear and our target is streamlined: we exist to reach outdoorsmen with the Gospel of Jesus in ways that churches cannot. That isn’t changing. Not only are we specifically not a church, we are absolutely dependent on strong, Bible-believing local churches to partner with and keep our team members engaged in discipleship and the work of the church in their local communities.

However, an outreach based organization like Blast & Cast can never attain its goals without seeing evangelism through to completion. Often, there is a temptation to count statistics like professions of faith or conversions in order to gauge success, but those statistics reveal very little about success when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission. Evangelism can only be completed by discipleship, so it’s not the numbers sitting in pews or marching down the aisles that matter…it’s the numbers that end up marching through the community and serving others while proclaiming Jesus that truly matter.

Here are those service numbers for Blast & Cast. We put together a survey for about 40 of our core volunteers that are spread throughout Texas and Louisiana and the results are, to me at least, impressive.

Worker days spent aiding emergency water rescue operations:      70

Approximate number of people rescued from flooded homes:         1450

Worker days volunteered at local shelters and aid stations:              150 (and counting)

Worker days volunteered mucking out homes and delivering aid:  159 (and counting)

Keep in mind that these numbers only represent the efforts of about 40 volunteers (there were many more!) during the initial 2-week period during and after Harvey and that nearly 1/3 of those same volunteers also suffered damage to their own homes!

I believe that our success as a ministry has been demonstrated in a real and practical way over the last few weeks as our team members stepped up in times of need and became servants of their community while proclaiming Jesus. While we may not be a relief organization by nature, we became one out of necessity. We pooled together the networks and resources that God gave us and simply went to work serving and meeting the needs of hurting communities. Not because of who we are as an organization, but because of who each of us is as an individual follower of Jesus that is called to meet the needs of the poor and hurting while proclaiming the Gospel.

Our work may have begun in a clump of mangroves overlooking a spread of decoys on Aransas Bay, but it was completed when Mitch Rossi went door to door in a flooded neighborhood passing out box fans and offering support. Our work with Mark Street may have begun 7 years ago when we were simply “those Christians” that beat him to his hunting spots, but it saw completion when he was working beside me to pull flood victims out of the water and wet sheetrock out of homes. Our work with Brad Sherman may have begun a few years ago when he was sleepwalking through church and largely unengaged, but it was completed when he worked tirelessly around the clock for two weeks, called every morning looking for a new service project, and is now described by his wife as a man that is not only engaged but actively and passionately pursuing opportunities to live out and share the Gospel with other men in his life.

The stories don’t end there. From Walker Fletcher and Jay Mehrens spending 10 days cutting trees off of homes in Portland, to Damian Peckenpaugh rescuing literally hundreds and working himself to exhaustion, to Robert Poage organizing daily rescue and relief trips from East Texas, to James Swanzy and Greg Young and Josh May making multiple trips from the DFW area to meet rescue and supply needs in Cypress and Baytown, to Robert Gross and Jeremiah Mathews working in the Port Arthur/Groves area, to the numerous donors that have stepped up and allowed us to purchase relief supplies and extend financial relief to the hurting. There are many, many more stories than I could tell!

As a ministry leader, this is the type of success that I’m interested in. Changed lives, communities served, the Gospel proclaimed. It has been and continues to be a very difficult time, and the difficulty is likely to continue for many months. Our financial sustainability will be tested as our largest donor base sustained a huge blow, and our upcoming weekend events will be tested with significant logistical challenges as well. However, God never designed us to conquer easy tasks, and God never commissioned a ministry effort without knowing how to provide for it in difficult times. The truth is, difficult times reveal character in both individuals and ministries, and difficult times allow ministries the opportunity to step up and meet God-sized needs in order to physically demonstrate the love of God in the provision of Jesus. I’m very proud that this difficult time has revealed such depth of character and life change in the Blast & Cast team. I’m overjoyed that our team is successfully demonstrating God’s love to hurting communities, and I’m incredibly thankful for every team member that the Lord has brought on board!

Our mission statement will probably never be revised to state that we exist to pass out box fans and bleach and rescue people off of rooftops during 1000-year floods. But, our commitment to meeting the needs of the community during a 1000-year flood does reflect our unwavering commitment to sharing the light of the Gospel with a dark and hurting world. We are a mission organization that reaches outdoorsmen for such a time as this, and we’ve now clearly seen how outdoorsmen are strategically positioned to reach their communities for Jesus and make a practical difference.

If you’ve been holding out on joining our team, whether as a donor or a volunteer, hold out no longer. This is the team that you want to be a part of!

Brodie Cooper