Harvey: Aftermath of a Monumental Crisis

On Thursday Aug. 24, 2017, the Ascending Leaders board concluded our annual meeting with a lunch-and-learn event at Houston Baptist University, listening to 30 area discipleship practitioners. The Houston-area attendees were checking the weather updates on their phones; the out-of-town board members wondered if their flights would be affected by Harvey’s imminent landfall. Board member Dr. Robert Sloan, President of HBU, checked in on the college’s emergency planning. Everyone agreed that the meeting was over just in time. On the drive home, Mike waited in a gas line to get enough gas to last a week, not realizing floods would keep his car in the garage for the next seven days.

No one expected the hurricane would stall west of Houston as a record-breaking tropical storm, sitting there for days picking up water from the Gulf of Mexico and dropping it over the area surrounding the United States’ fourth largest city. By Thursday morning, a week later, the rain gauge total at Mike’s home measured 44+ inches of rain. Harvey had officially broken the continental U.S. record for rainfall from one storm.

Like everyone else in the region, Ascending Leaders’ plans for the fall drastically shifted. Three staff members evacuated, family and friends endured flooding of their homes, and it was a month before the whole team was back together at our offices in Sugar Land. One church in a coaching partnership had over 200 members flooded. And yet, the storm provided opportunities for disciples to love their neighbors more selflessly, and to surrender to God during scary unknowns. In the aftermath of a community crisis, the real impact of doing discipleship well becomes clear. It shows up in the people sacrificing their best interests for the sake of the displaced. It’s seen in churches with open doors and lines of volunteers. When you get discipleship right in your church, you have an abundant outpouring of faithful service when crisis hits.

Here are some personal accounts of “God things” that happened during Harvey:

  • “I’ll never forget Gina stepping in to help a neighbor while the rest of the neighborhood was standing around gawking. It gave us the opportunity to minister to this Mandarin-speaking family. An unexpected benefit was the great dumplings they brought over the next day!”
    – Mike Johnson, AL Founder/President


  • “The reporter from Detroit spoke of his surprise over people coming together and sacrificing to help each other in the middle of this devastation. I was impressed that he said he had never seen this before.”
    – Teri Watson, Accounts Assistant


  • “A neighboring church invited our Chinese church members to a training session on how to help following a flood—mold remediation, and things like that. Despite little notice and difficult roads, a hundred people from our church showed up for that. That was a gift from God, because it helped equip us.”
    – Ellie Tow, Executive Assistant


  • “After Harvey hit, our church members called for help first to others in their community groups. And I witnessed that with my own community group, with everyone texting and calling each other with offers of shelter or help as the flooding got worse. It was beautiful to see everyone living out our goal of doing life together as a church.”
    – Megan LaFollett, Communications/Resourcing Lead

Mike and other staff members received calls, e-mails and texts from people out of town who wanted to help and needed advice on where to give aid that would effectively help people. Thanks to Ascending Leaders’ national connections, we were able to link people across the country who wanted to send resources to the front lines in the very early hours and days of recovery.

A Framework for Focus: The Key to Getting Unstuck

One of the most important parts of my role as Communications Lead for Ascending Leaders is understanding not only what it is, exactly, that we do as an organization, but also why it’s needed. If I don’t understand the difference we make, then any communication of what we do or how we do it would be an empty vessel, words without meaning. I was drawn to Ascending Leaders because of my own passion for seeing people grow in Christ. In my ongoing quest to assimilate over a decade of work helping churches get more effective at doing just that, I’ve spent the past month researching our relationship with a few specific churches, each chosen to provide an example of churches at different—dare I say—stages of coaching. Here I’ll share the information I found most illuminating, before stating my personal understanding of the “why”.

Madison Church in Grand Rapids, MI, is crafting testimonies around the stages of faith to help people articulate their faith and understand the stages. Would you like to try your hand at it, and see what you might discover about yourself? Visit our blog for a guide on how to do just that.

A video of Mike Johnson’s “Stages of Faith” testimony is available to watch on our website or YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for more testimony videos from Ascending Leaders staff, as we continue to practice what we preach!

In Conclusion

Several key words and phrases came up repeatedly the research process: alignment, defining, assessment, measurable, outcomes, focus, perspective. The consistent theme I found was that the framework Ascending Leaders uses to help churches clarify their discipleship process takes “stuff” (and usually good but confusing stuff) and turns it into a well-defined pathway. Vital to this transformation is an outside perspective from a coach with an adaptive spirit, a common vocabulary among leadership, perseverance, a sensitivity to what God is already doing in the church, and a clearly defined and measurable desired outcome. The “why” a church might call us in to help turns out to be surprisingly simple: Do their people know where to grow? If they don’t, then they are STUCK. Coaching for clarity leads to momentum—and that means movement, or becoming unstuck.


Highpoint Bonus: Rachel Young on the biggest challenge facing the church today

spiritual-friendship-coverInterested in learning more about spiritual friendship? We recommend Mindy Caliguire’s excellent book on the subject.

Spiritual Friendship introduces you to principles of friendship that bring focus to your spiritual life. You’ll discover what it takes to have a rich, God-centered relationship that will nourish your soul. You use this book in small chunks of daily reading, covering the whole book in the course of four weeks. Also included are four guided group discussions for use with a small group or a spiritual friend.

#StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/20-2433799 for your holiday gifts and Amazon donates to Ascending Leaders.

From Blog

Name the Monkey: Poll


Subject Line Testing


Proud Pie and Pumpkin Spice: Day 1 of Prayer (the intense way)


DiscipleshipDare: John 21 Imaginative Entry


#pg-7263-0 , #pl-7263 .panel-grid-cell .so-panel { margin-bottom:30px } #pg-7263-0…

Follow us

© 2022 – Ascending Leaders – All rights reserved.


for Additional Scholarship

Your Cart

Cart is empty.