It was exhilarating to see The Advocate’s “special” tribute to the church community of Baton Rouge for their sacrificial ministries following Hurricane Katrina. The many diverse expressions of the Christian community “stepped up” big time in ministering to hurting people in huge and unforgettable ways.
It has been observed that one of the reasons the church community was able to respond so quickly was the lack of governmental red tape to interfere with their engagement. I suggest that another major force that energized the church was the awareness that we who have been loved so immeasurably by God ought and do love others — in the words of Jesus Christ, a mark of authentic church.
There were many heroes and volunteers in the post-Katrina devastation that were not church connected, for whom we are indeed grateful. However, there is another part of the post-Katrina story that does not appear to be as well-chronicled and understood and that is how the churches from around the nation responded. This story does not seem to be given appropriation attention by the national media.
For example, I was given the opportunity to be engaged with Bible-based evangelicals from across the United States. I personally know of millions of dollars given by Christians from California to New York. These financial resources rebuilt flooded church facilities; provided food, water and clothing for people from St. Charles Parish to Biloxi, Mississippi; bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of building materials to restore homes; and provided financial support for hundreds of missionaries supported by these churches. Work teams came to the Gulf Coast area by the hundreds. I received phone calls from pastors from Portland to Philadelphia wanting to help. And this is just one small slice of what the larger church community did. These numbers could be multiplied by staggering amounts. Even to this day, I know of “work teams” that continue to make trips to certain parts of New Orleans.
To the churches across the U.S., we say a big thank you. With your actions, you represented Jesus Christ in an amazing way. We can be assured that thousands of people were powerfully impacted — physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Yes, it was the worst of times for hundreds of thousands, but it was also among the best of times for the many who served and the many who were served.
Larry E. Miller