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.

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