In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Marilyn Maddox says things in Houston “are a bit upside down these days.” An online master’s student at Southwestern Seminary and director of counseling at Houston Northwest Church, Maddox says two of her church’s three buildings were flooded, and countless homes in the area have been damaged. Even so, she has this news to share with her fellow Southwesterners: “God is at work in Houston!”

The only church building that did not get flooded is the worship center. The first Sunday after the flood, the church held two worship services at their usual times, and they were both standing-room only. Beyond serving as a place for worship, the church has also become a hub for donations and has organized teams to “mud-out” homes—even as they mud-out their own church buildings.

One day, while a team was working on a house, Maddox visited the neighboring homes in order to compile a list of their needs. In the course of this work, Maddox stopped by the home of a homosexual couple, Rick and Rudy, who were new to the area. She spoke with them for a while, prayed with them, and then proceeded to their neighbors’ houses.

Half an hour later, Maddox noticed that Rick and Rudy had returned to their home with supplies to start cleaning, so she gathered about 15 people from her church to help them. By the time the sun set, the team had pulled up all of their flooring and removed about half of their sheetrock.

“Why did you do this for us?” the couple asked Maddox as the team departed for the night. “I told them we serve because Jesus was our example, and He came to serve,” Maddox says.

“We have a saying at our church—‘We don’t serve to convert, we serve because we have been converted!’” Maddox continues. “I got to spend some time telling them that we have been changed through Christ, and we can’t help but serve. They were even more astonished when they heard we were doing all of this out of a flooded church ourselves!”

On another occasion, Maddox and fellow church members were able to perform a similar service for a Muslim family. They, too, questioned why the church members were being so helpful, particularly given their different beliefs.

The family added, “If more Christians acted that way, then more people would want to be Christians.” The family allowed the church members to pray with them and agreed to let the church follow up with them in the coming weeks.

In addition to providing manual labor, Houston Northwest Church also acts a distribution center for getting donations out to the community, as well as to other shelters and churches in the area. Furthermore, those church members who cannot do manual labor have taken up another ministry—doing laundry for flood victims. People drop off their laundry; church members pick it up, take it home, wash it, and fold it; then it gets returned the next day. They wash roughly 200 loads of laundry per day, and Maddox says this has been a huge blessing to many people.

“God is getting much glory during this time as His church is really stepping up and serving and loving on all our neighbors,” Maddox says. “In the midst of the storm, God is showing up, and His people are being faithful.”