Don't Drink the Water: After Harvey, a Different Kind of Water Crisis in Houston

"The water dripped on me and look what happened.”

There was a red welt on my colleague's arm where the water splashed him. Our team was out collecting water samples in an unincorporated neighborhood near Houston to test for contaminants. But based on the angry rash on Ben’s arm we didn’t need to wait for the results on this house.

Building Peace While Rebuilding Houston

Jeremy Courtney greets the Imam at a mosque near Denver, CO.

Houston’s devastation is horrific. After a year of so much division and violence, the easy thing would be to stay in our own communities—to show up for the people of Houston, but to show up with and for people who look like us and believe like we do.

Let me tell you about four congregations in Duluth, Minnesota, who believe they can write a new story of healing and reconciliation in their own city, even as they respond to the tragedy in Houston—alongside each other instead of apart.

Showing Up, Even Without a Hurricane

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas nearly three weeks ago, the entire country was laser-focused on responding to the crisis. Families, mosques, churches, and schools sent their love to Texas in the form of food, water, clothing, diapers, and tools. 

''Look For the Helpers.''

One of my all-time favorite quotes is by the sweater-changing, puppet-serenading Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

As the war with ISIS enters a new stage here in Iraq, there’s an invisible group of helpers that I want you to meet...

Moving Home After War Is Hard. But That Won't Stop These Brothers.

It was his nightly routine for years. After supper was eaten and the dishes washed, after the evening visitors had come to enjoy tea and conversation, after the children were tucked into bed and his wife began yawning, Sami moved through his home to make sure it was secure for the night. He checked the front gate to make sure it was bolted closed. He did the same at the front door, and then made sure the windows were secure.

After Harvey and Irma: How to Show Up

Image: NASA

Between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it feels like our eyes have been glued to weather radar images nonstop for a month. More than 100,000 homes were damaged by flooding in Texas. It’s still too early to know the scope of the devastation caused by Irma.

Syria: The First Signs of Hope After a Three-Year Siege

More than 200,000 people have been living under siege for the last three years in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, caught in a brutal war involving ISIS, rebel groups, Syrian government forces, and at times, Russian and American jets.

Love Overpowers Hate: What I Want My Kids to Know on September 11

Photo by Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0

9/11 is not over.

Sixteen years ago, America was launched into a tragedy we didn’t think possible. Our society was forever changed that day. Our children are still living with the fallout.

When Peace is Born Out of Chaos

The young women’s laughter echoes around the foyer of their Beaumont, Texas mosque as they unpack bag after bag of donated food for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

As they chit-chat, they diligently sort donations by type to make it easier for families to find what they need. Only occasionally do they stop to pass around a phone when one of them receives a text (or maybe it’s a snap? I’m too old to know) that needs to be discussed with the group.

Our Greatest Hope For You Is This...

We may have never said this, but there is something we want for you more than anything.

This thing is penultimate. It’s the reason we greet each day, why we live in Iraq, and why we do everything we do. It’s the reason we write, speak, share, story, email, and everything else—it’s our reason for being.

Can you guess what our greatest hope for you is?

Standing in the Gap For Unserved Families in Texas

The air is hot and heavy and the smell of mildew, mold, and wet drywall follows me as I walk through this unincorporated neighborhood near Houston, distributing emergency supplies. Every time I pass an enormous pile of someone’s ruined possessions on the side of the road, it gets stronger. When I step into Maria’s house, it’s all I can smell.

Texas Flooding: The Waters Are Receding, But Your Love Isn’t

The waters of Hurricane Harvey are finally receding in Southeast Texas, but the full extent of the need is becoming apparent. More than 100,000 homes were affected. Up to 500,000 cars were damaged beyond repair. Several small communities have been cut off by floodwaters for days.

But your love is on the ground. We’re rushing initial aid to vulnerable communities and building out a long-term response—in collaboration with churches, nonprofits, and other organizations all across the region—to help families get back in their homes and put their lives back together.

Texas Flooding Response Update: September 1

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey are finally starting to recede, but the damage left behind is overwhelming.

At the peak of the storm, 70% of Harris County was under water, including many areas well outside Houston. In some cases, entire communities were flooded, the devastation stretching across an area the size of New Jersey. Tens of thousands of Texans are currently displaced—stuck in overcrowded shelters, unable to go home.

Here are three things to know about our early response: 

Peacemaker Friday: Remaking the World for Kids Through Play

Kids are kids no matter where they live. They want to have fun, be silly, laugh and imagine. But, tragically, when violence strikes— whether in the form of bullets and bombs, or natural disasters—the joy of childhood is often one of its first victims.

The Real Reason We Could Say 'Yes' to Houston

If I give monthly, will my part of donation be used to help in Houston?

Several of our nearly 5,000 (!) monthly donors have been asking this lately, and a few more of you are probably wondering the same thing.

The short answer is yes.

Four Practical Ways You Can Help Families Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has dropped 51.88 inches of rain—that’s 4 ¼ feet of rain—on Cedar Bayou, Texas, just east of the metro Houston area. In our shock, we say things like “unimaginable!” Except that we can imagine it perfectly well—we’ve all seen the stunning images of rivers where roads used to be. Over the last couple days, members of our response team have seen it with their own eyes.

To Houston: A Message of Love From Iraq

Preemptive love is not a one-way street. It is not from “us” to “them.” It is not from “here” to “there.” Because there is no “us” and “them.” There is no “here” or “there.”

We belong to each other.

Hurricane Harvey Hits Houston: We're Responding

 Families are evacuated from flooded neighborhoods in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey. Photo via Texas National Guard. CC BY-ND 2.0.

Hurricane Harvey barrelled through Texas over the weekend and camped out over the Houston area, causing massive devastation. Tens of thousands are fleeing. Thousands more are trapped, their homes and cars underwater. The violence of this storm is unmaking lives, as sure as bullets and bombs do so in places like Iraq and Syria.

Peacemaker Friday: This Young Iraqi Refugee is Turning Pain into Peacemaking

Ahmed Badr, founder of Narratio. Image via

Most tragedies never fully disappear. They share your breath, your blood, and walk around the ridges of your ribcage when they can’t fall asleep.

Ahmed Badr was 8 years old when a bomb crashed through a window of his family’s home in Baghdad. It was a dud missile, meant to cause destruction, but not explode. It shattered a piece of his home, but it also shattered his entire life—forcing his family to leave their home, family, jobs, and everything they’d ever known.

Help Dig A Well of Life-Giving Water in Mosul

Imagine your child saying ‘I’m thirsty,’ and having nothing to give them.

That’s the situation of many families in Mosul today. But it doesn’t have to be. You can provide a source of clean water for an entire neighborhood in as little as three days.

Read the blog at Preemptive Love Coalition
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