Cowley-Powell relief group helps with hurricane cleanup

Members of a Cowley Bible study decided to turn their prayers into action and are in Texas this week helping people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Rocky Mountain Fellowship meets each Wednesday at the home of leader Johannes Slabbert in Cowley and when the hurricane hit, members were moved to do something to help.

The group of seven – Slabbert, John Richards and Derek Alvarez of Cowley and the family of Rick and Stephanie Ramsey and daughters Realynn and Rylee of Powell – planned their trip to Victoria, Texas, which was hit hard by the storm. They coordinated with the international, nondenominational Samaritan’s Purse organization, which has provided all of the tools and support for the volunteers.

Members of the Rocky Mountain Fellowship group from Cowley and Powell pose after arriving in Texas this week for hurricane relief work. Pictured are (l-r) Samaritan’s Purse volunteers Jeff (no last name provided) and Dale Peterson, and Cowley/Powell volunteers Johannes Slabbert, John Richards, Stephanie Ramsey, Raelynn Ramsey, Rick Ramsey (behind), Rylee Ramsey and Derek Alvarez.
Courtesy photo

The group left Wyoming on Sunday afternoon and arrived Monday, then started work Tuesday morning. Slabbert said they were to work for three days, then start home on Friday.

The local volunteers would be going into homes and performing a “mud-out,” Slabbert said, gutting the home of water-damaged material, carrying out furniture and even removing drywall, then spraying a Clorox solution to kill any mold that has developed. The service is provided to people free of charge.

“Our only expense is the gas to get there,” Slabbert said. “One bond pulls everybody there, and that’s the love of Christ.”

If asked why they wanted to go, Slabbert would reply, “Because Christ first loved us,” he said. “It’s cool to go love people like that.”

It was during a volunteer relief trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, following a flood around nine or 10 years ago that Slabbert was saved.

“That’s why this is so dear to my heart,” he said. “The joy of the Lord is amazing in the people who serve.”

He moved to the United States from South Africa in 2003 and has lived in Cowley with his wife, MaryBeth, and four children
for about a year. He said he and others are working to start a church, the Water of Life Church, that will initially meet at Rocky Mountain Elementary School.

Though affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Slabbert said the new church, and current Bible study, will be non-denominational.

“It’s a safe place where everyone is welcome from all walks of life,” he said. “People can grow in the word, any denomination. We have LDS, Catholic, Baptist, a good mix of everything. Everyone is welcome. We are just studying the word.

By David Peck