Gift of hospitality: Rangers thank Baptist church

Published 10:52 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

By Chris Moore


NEDERLAND — In the weeks following Tropical Storm Harvey, many government agencies and local volunteers pulled together to help get Southeast Texas back on its feet. For nearly two weeks, the Texas Rangers were stationed at the First Baptist Church in Nederland.

The Rangers returned to the church Friday to recognize the congregation and thank them for their help.

“The Rangers that were here did a good job, but we couldn’t have done it without you and the support of other people like you,” Maj. Jason Taylor said to the congregation. “They were sent over here, kind of, underequipped, but the fact that y’all were able to help out is tremendous. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

The Rev. Jason Burden, pastor, said having the Rangers present following the storm brought comfort to the congregation and the community.

“It meant that we weren’t alone,” Burden said. “For a while, we felt cut off from everybody. These guys showed up before the waters receded. That gave us a lot of hope that we were going to get out of this.”

Burden said the Rangers helped keep the peace around the area and kept people calm.

“They rolled in with some equipment that could navigate the flood waters and they helped a lot of people,” Burden said. “People know that when the Texas Rangers come to town, you know something serious has happened. Their presence communicated that the rest of the state was taking our situation very seriously.

“They were coming and going 24 hours a day. There wasn’t a moment our doors were locked because they were always in and out. They stayed on the job and on call.”

Burden said he was proud of his congregation and staff for the way the Rangers were welcomed.

“It was awfully humbling,” he said. “The Bible talks about hospitality being one of the gifts of the spirit, and this church has the gift of hospitality. We wanted to make our facilities useful and that was the best way that we could see making use of it. Between the time that the evacuees left and the regular volunteers from all over the state and North Carolina got here, the Rangers had the full use of our buildings.”

Lt. Bobby Smith said that there were other Rangers coming in from other areas that were requesting to stay at the First Baptist Church in Nederland because of how well they were being treated.

“I was stationed in Beaumont at Parkdale Mall and housing was scarce,” Smith said. “I started feeling bad for the ones stationed in Nederland until I came over here and saw how well they were being treated. Theses guys came from all over the state and they took them in and they made their stay over here as convenient as it could be and we certainly appreciate that.”

Smith said that having a place were the Rangers could recharge was invaluable.

“To take them in and provide those guys a place where they could all come together and disperse, a central location, is good,” Smith said. “They were treated first class. There is no doubt about it.”