Texas churches that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey but are being denied relief by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are suing the agency citing discrimination due to their religious status.
Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Once again, heaven sent a message of hope to people stricken by natural disasters in the form of a lone statue of Our Lady that survived a devastating fire that resulted from Hurricane Harvey, a miraculous event that has occurred again and again over the last few years.
Fox News is reporting on the incident of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was found standing intact in the midst of rubble caused by an electrical fire that ravaged three Texas homes during Hurricane Harvey.
The fire, which destroyed three homes on the Rojas family property in Robstown, which is located about 20 miles west of Corpus Christi, were completely destroyed in a fire during Hurricane Harvey. Amidst the total devastation of the property, a lone statue of Our Lady was all that was found intact.
“Some may blame God and some may blame the hurricane but the only thing standing were holy things,” said homeowner Natali Rojas to local news station KRIS. “As you can see this statue is the only thing that survived. I dug in there for things and all I found is a Virgin Mary.”
Her father, Jesus Rojas, said he was just grateful no one died in the fire.
“I believe that throughout my life I’ve suffered a lot, we were migrants. We worked all of our lives in fields and trying to show our families how to stay strong, how to believe in God and keep everybody together as a family,” Jesus said.
“Appreciate what you have, listen to the warnings, hug your children and thank God for today and yesterday, and pray for a better tomorrow,” Natali said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family rebuild.
As remarkable as this story is, it’s not the first time that God has allowed a statue of Jesus or Mary to survive in pristine condition in the middle of total destruction.
For example, this past spring, a tornado ripped through the East Texas town of Emory and destroyed St. John the Evangelist Church. According to the Diocese of Tyler, 45 people were huddled just 10 feet away from where the tornado hit and all escaped unharmed.
But the church was left in ruins – except for one lone statue of Our Lady that was left completely untouched.
When Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast in 2012, a statue of Our Lady was the only thing left standing on a plot of land in Breezy Point, New York. It had been placed in the garden years ago by the family who owned the property which was flattened by the storm and the fires that broke out in its wake. The sight of the Madonna was so startling that it has now been dubbed “The Breezy Point Madonna.”
In January of this year, William Carey University, a Christian university located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, suffered extensive damage by devastating tornadoes that ripped through the area.
In the midst of the devastation, a statue of Jesus remained standing in the center of the campus, a clear sign that heaven was watching over the site as the storms ripped through.
But this time, God left behind an even more explicit message to those of us who suffer through the storms of life. It was found in the chapel, which had been extensively damaged – except for the Bible on the pulpit which was left completely undisturbed.
It was found opened to Psalm 46:
“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.
Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea.
Though its waters rage and foam and mountains totter at its raging . . .
God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken.”
Amen, and alleluia!
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