Saturday, September 24, 2005

Off To Biloxi!

If all goes as planned, we will be sending our first construction crew to Biloxi, Mississippi on October 14-16! Our first job will be to reshingle the roofs of two houses; one of them will need some new decking and extensive trim work. We have two crews shaping up and hope to do the repairs on Friday and Saturday. Cottage Hill in Mobile will have all the materials needed in place when we get there. If we are not able to finish by Saturday evening we will follow our Savior's model and "Pull an ox out of the ditch." That means we will finish the jobs on Sunday!

We have an R.V., a camper, and a dormitory provided to house our workers. Teams from Maine, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia will rendevous at Lemoyne Boulevard Baptist Church. Can you get any more New Testament than that? You've gotta love it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Waves and Winds Still Know

Our adopted church in Biloxi continues to dig out of the disastrous mess that was left behind by Katrina. Our coalition of churches (Partners in Christ) continues to pray, recruit workers, raise money, and flesh out plans to bring assistance. The ability to communicate with our Mississippi mission is still an adventure! Cell calls seem to bounce back endlessly with busy signals and internet connections are spotty. Nearly every member of the church we are trying to assist has been hit with destruction at some level and they are overtaxed with mere survival.

All three churches in the partnership are chomping at the bit to bring relief. The church in Mobile is sending over work crews to Biloxi this weekend, our church is assembling two crews to put roofs back on houses (one of our project leaders is coming from a church in Maine)! The church in Dothan is organizing teams to make face to face contact with several communities near the church, we have an organization that is providing us with 20 thousand bibles to distribute.

It's the wee hours of the morning. I have been unable to sleep but I'm very keen on praying. The words from an the old hymn have been going through my mind; they put Katrina and all our storms back in the right perspective:

Be still my soul
The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them
While He dwelt below.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Responding to Katrina

I just got back from Biloxi and Slidell. It is impossible to adequately describe the destruction that Katrina unleashed, but I will try. Countless boats and automobiles had switched places -- cars in the water and boats on the land. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to rubble and splinters. Big red X's were spray painted across the doors, indicating that the houses had been searched for bodies. None of the houses I saw had become coffins. There were mountains of waterlogged clothes, mattresses, curtains, and sofas -- taller than houses -- where lawns used to be. Millions of trees were uprooted by the wind or killed by the invading salt water -- everything looked brown and dingy. A terrible odor hung in the air.

All along I have never doubted that our fellow countrymen would respond to the brokenness left in Katrina's wake. I have not been disappointed; there has been an outpouring of generosity, compassion -- a steady stream of food and materials flowing into the Gulf area.

As a church, we began to seek the best way to respond. We tried to envision what the Gulf area will be like 3-6 months from now. In the end, we concluded that we must make sure that we, as God's people, help as many churches as possible get back on their feet. So our church, along with two others, have formed an initiative we are calling Partners in Christ, based on Philippians 1:3-5. We are making a long-term commitment to the Gulf by adopting at least one church crippled by the storm. Our partnership will assist our adopted friends in several ways: We will be sending construction teams to do physical repairs on the church facility, provide financial assistance to the church, and human resources to help the church minister to its community.

Our goal is to keep ministry flowing to an area so desperately needing the touch of God through His people. We envision a day in the near future when our friends who have been knocked down by Katrina will rise up again, walk, and then run.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Katrina: A New Adventure

Columbus, Georgia is beautiful, economically healthy, growing, and in my opinion the recipient of God's special favor. I love living here. I find it rewarding to rise early, step outside, and see stunning sunrises. I like driving slowly down Warm Springs Road early in the morning with the sunroof open or the windows rolled down, enjoying the sounds and the fresh morning air on my face.

It doesn't seem possible that just a few hours away is a world of staggering devastation. In fact, it seems so impossible that I could easily put it out of my mind (as long as I didn't turn on the T.V. or read a newspaper) and continue on with my nearly perfect life. But I could not continue in a vital walk with God and neglect the new adventure He has called me to. What is the adventure? Influencing the people in my very stable world to use our resources to bring the hope of a new beginning to many whose lives have been turned upside down!

Katrina has given Christ's Church an opportunity to follow God's desired response to unprecedented destruction and need. Has such need ever arisen on our own soil? Is it conceivable that any life could be unaltered by what has taken place? How about yours? How will you respond?

In the following posts I will share how God has altered our lives and led us to respond.