“We need to get out of here.”
In the middle of the night, Ashley Aples told his wife, Briand, that they needed to leave their Houston home for higher ground.
Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on Texas and the Aples knew better than most what could be coming. So they grabbed their son and niece and fled Houston, making their way to Dallas.
At a mega-shelter set up in the Dallas convention center, Briand caught the eye of Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain coordinators Sue and Paul Dowdy.
While many others wore a look of despair, Sue noticed Briand—half-asleep, yet smiling.
“She had the joy of the Lord in her smile,” Sue recalled. Both Briand’s and Ashley’s smiles “were contagious,” Sue added. “[They were] fully relying on the Lord.”
The Aples had moved to Houston in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina flooded their house. They found themselves in a Houston shelter and decided to call this new city home.
Twelve years later, they trusted God again when a hurricane churned in Houston.
Paul and Sue were struck by Ashley and Briand’s faithfulness. Ashley said God kept telling him to ‘pick up the tent,’ Sue said.
“When God tells you to move the tent, you move the tent,” Ashley said, referring to a Bible verse about following God’s lead to share His love and salvation with others.
The chaplains also learned the family was in the middle of yet another storm.
Just over a month earlier, they had lost their four-year-old daughter to a rare type of cancer. For most—and rightly so—their world would come crashing down.
But Briand told Sue what she learned from her daughter’s death was something only the Lord could orchestrate.
“We need to praise the Lord all the time,” Briand said. “Even when we know we’re getting ready to meet Him, just continue to praise Him.”
Because that’s what their little girl did, often singing praises to Jesus and raising her hands up and dancing—because she knew Jesus, Briand said.
One night, though their daughter was very ill, she said, “Mama, I want to do a twirl.” She needed help though because the cancer had weakened her muscles and she couldn’t walk. After Briand twirled her around, her four-year-old, satisfied, let her mom know she was ready for heaven. Later that night, Ashley and Briand’s daughter met Jesus face to face.
Chaplains often pray for God to lead them to the right people to minister to. The Dowdy’s have also lost a child and could relate to the trauma.
What struck Sue, though, wasn’t their pain but their joy. “They have a strong, unwavering faith,” she explained. “In whatever happens, they’re going to accept it and go on and seek after His will.”
Real faith that’s bigger than their circumstances.
The Aples told Paul and Sue they believe all these trials happened for a reason—and that God is going to use them for a specific purpose.
Ashley has had the privilege to preach in the past and even led the memorial service for his young daughter. He feels God calling him to ministry.
In the meantime, they’ll stay with relatives in Arlington, Texas, and get their young son enrolled in school.
But after they get back on their feet, Ashley and Briand say they’re ready for whatever God has for them next. They’re ready to “move the tent again.”
Are you searching for lasting hope? Find it here.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is an international ministry of crisis-trained chaplains ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to natural and man-made disasters. Since its inception in the wake of 9/11, hundreds of chaplains have had the honor of praying with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, all in the Name of Jesus.