It’s an often-used phrase — “You don’t miss it until it’s gone.” And for the rural twin cities of Hull and Daisetta, Texas, what was gone was water. The cities’ only source of water was disabled when a mechanical break occurred 200 feet below ground on Oct. 6, leaving the communities with no water pressure, much less water to drink.
Although the well was repaired within days, the process for making the water drinkable has continued on for nearly two weeks, with authorities struggling to get bottled water in significant quantity into the communities for the roughly 1,500 residents.
That is until Taylor Choate, pastor of Harvest Church (AG) in Daisetta decided to take a chance.
Choate says that he is fully aware of the capabilities of Convoy of Hope, but he also knew that the compassion organization had been sending significant resources, including vast amounts of bottled water, to the communities recovering from Hurricane Ian in Florida. Would they even have any water left to ship?
“I was once told, the worst anyone can tell you is no, so on Thursday (Oct. 13) I got onto the Convoy Facebook page and sent a message,” Choate says. “Within about an hour, I got a phone call from (US Disaster Service Program Engagement Director) Eric Gordon.”
Choate’s initial request included portable showers for the community as many people, especially those with underlying health issues, needed clean water to bathe in. Gordon confirmed Choate’s suspicion that the shower units had all been deployed to Florida. However, after some research, Gordon was able to offer 18 pallets of water to be delivered by that Saturday (in just two days).
Choate confirmed with Daisetta Mayor Eric Thaxton that the city could use the water. Thaxton was thrilled with the prospect. At that point, the cities had been without potable water for 11 days.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, as promised, the Convoy of Hope truck arrived early Saturday morning, but instead of the 18 pallets promised, the driver unloaded 27 pallets of water at the church to bless and distribute to the community.
“My first thought was, Where are we going to put 27 pallets of water today?” Choate admits with a laugh. “But we didn’t have time to figure it out because we already had a line of vehicles ready to receive the cases of water.”
Since the church had earlier scheduled a workday for that Saturday, volunteers were readily available to help with the water distribution – loading vehicles with three cases of water per family. Throughout the morning hours, 10 pallets of water were given away. The school, which needed water for students, was given seven of the pallets.
“In the afternoon, we gave out nearly seven more pallets of water — after church on Sunday and into the evening, there was only one pallet left, which the city picked up on Monday morning.” The need had been met!
“Convoy of Hope was happy to help meet the clean water needs of people in Hull and Daisetta during their water crisis,” says Ethan Forhetz, national spokesperson for Convoy of Hope. “We know the importance of clean drinking water, so when we heard of the problem, we immediately worked on ways to get a truckload of bottled water to people who needed it.”
And as an added bonus to giving out water at no charge, the church secured a couple of hundred dollars of quarters and made up baggies of laundry detergent and dryer sheets to assist residents in need with the cost of doing laundry in neighboring communities’ laundromats.
MORE THAN WATER
When Choate accepted the pastorate of First Assembly of God (now Harvest Church) in Daisetta about 10 months ago, the congregation had dwindled to two older women who were widows. In fact, when he was first asked about the leading the church, he knew the obvious and wise decision was to decline.
But God had a different idea, and after prayer, Choate experienced a little bit of 1 Corinthians 1:25, which compares man’s wisdom to God’s wisdom. In short, he accepted the church.
“When he came to our community, he hit the ground running — he has made a huge impact,” states Mayor Thaxton, who notes how through God, Choate has breathed new life into the church that has grown to 30 congregants. “His outreach ministry is just wonderful. He is very much involved in our community.”
Choate lives with his wife Morgan, and 3-year-old daughter, Matilda, in Dayton, about 20 miles west of Daisetta. He’s also a bivocational minister — teaching geometry at Dayton High School.
Yet, as Thaxton alluded to, Choate has made Hull-Daisetta a second home, excited for the church body to become an active and integrated part of the cities.
“Over these 10 months, we’ve done big food drives, giving out food boxes to help 200 families each time, we gave out 65 backpacks filled with school supplies to kids who needed them,” Choate says. “We also have little block parties, where we provide free hot dogs and things like that.”
“We have a community fireworks show that they were a part of,” says Thaxton, who attends a local Baptist church. “Brother Taylor loves to cook outdoors and during that time he’s out cooking for everyone, he’s spreading the gospel!”
And coming this Thanksgiving, Choate says the church is already planning to bless at least 30 families in need with a complete Thanksgiving meal through their “Operation Thanksgiving” outreach.
However, outreaches don’t come without cost. Yet Choate explains that in addition to those attending the church, he has seen financial support come in from a wide variety of people and places.
“God has been sending us miracle resources from all over — it is what is sustaining our work here,” Choate says. “The testimony of finances that have come in from people I don’t even know has been so humbling and is a constant reminder that God isn’t done in this harvest field.”
“I just love what he’s doing for our community,” Thaxton says. “We all know it’s God’s will that put it on his heart (to meet community needs), and our community has been blessed for it.”
The multiple outreaches aimed at meeting needs, the blessing of Convoy of Hope providing more than 23,000 bottles of clean water, and the ongoing involvement and interaction with the community by Choate and the church body has not only drawn the attention and appreciation of the mayor, but people in the community.
Choate regularly posts to social media to let people know what the church is doing, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative of the church’s involvement. The church has grown from two to 30 over the last 10 months and Choate points again to meeting needs in the community as a key factor as it has drawn people with the same passion to the church.
“I love doing outreaches and getting involved in the community,” he says. “I repeatedly told the church, even just the two widows at the first of the year, ‘If this church dies, it is going to die while working in the harvest field, but if it is going to revive, it will be because we committed to working in the field before us.’”
That calling to the harvest is the reason the church was renamed to Harvest Church. And that calling is also what is drawing new people to the church. Yet, as the church is still more in the process of planting seeds — though already seeing a response — the future harvest means more “laborers” will be needed.
“I’m praying for kids workers, nursery workers, youth workers, and worship leaders,” Choate says. “We need Spirit-empowered workers to labor with us . . . people who are willing to listen to God’s call to go to the hard places and revitalize churches and communities for Christ.”