As Texas experiences record-breaking low temperatures and sweeping power outages, churches and ministries across the state are opening their doors, serving as warming shelters and providing food and supplies to those in need.
A spokesperson for Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, led by Joel Osteen, told The Christian Post that on Sunday, the church opened as a designated Warming Center for anyone in need of shelter in the city. The church plans to stay open as long as needed, and no appointment or sign-up is necessary.
“Approximately a dozen people arrived last night, and we expect more today with power outages,” the spokesperson said. “We are working with the Harris County Sherriff’s department and local homeless organizations to be available. We have beds, blankets and other supplies. No one will be turned away.”
On Sunday, the entire state of Texas was placed under a winter storm warning, with officials warning that people may die of hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of generators. Residents were asked to avoid travel if at all possible due to hazardous conditions on roads, including snow and ice.
In Denison, Texas, St. Luke Episcopal opened their doors, providing beds and a hot meal to those in need. People can stay overnight at the church until 7 a.m. the following morning. From there they can go over to the soup kitchen where Center Cross Ministry serves breakfast.
“The coffee pot will be on all night long,” Father Don Perschell told a local news station, adding that the church is observing COVID-19 restrictions.
“When they arrive, if they don’t have a mask, we’re going to give them a mask,” Perschell said. “They’re going to be given an opportunity to find a space here in the hall and they won’t have to worry about somebody crowding in.”
Perschell said the operation is a “joint effort” with other churches in the area and is funded completely through donations to the church.
In San Antonio, several organizations and ministries have stepped up to the plate amid freezing temperatures, including Church Under the Bridge, a church built specifically to minister to the spiritual needs of the homeless community.
The church has opened its doors to the homeless community, offering a warm place to stay, dinner and breakfast, and a movie.
“No one should have to sleep outside unless they decide that on their own. There are many options available,” reads the church’s Facebook page.
Nearby, Life Restored Church — a church that aims to reach the disenfranchised, the hurting, and the vulnerable people of San Antonio and bring them to a healing and transformational relationship with Jesus Christ — opened its doors over the weekend and through Monday to offer dinner, breakfast and a movie to those in need.
On Facebook, church worker Alex Fleming called for the local community to assist in helping those in need.
“We need more help,” he said, revealing he had barely slept as the church cared for dozens of members of the community over the weekend.
“You're so vital and so important to helping us impact people's lives,” he said. “If you could survive this inclement weather, then we may have a chance to revive and to restore a life.”
Unlike many homeless shelters, the goal of Life Restored Church, he said, is to “re-humanize” those it serves.
“We feed them, we serve them, we pray with them,” he said. “We're loving on them, we're really humanizing them, that's a big difference that you see in a lot of other institutions that cattle prod people through versus rehumanize them and loving them.”