Saturday, June 30, 2007

weep with those who weep for His glory

I hope this comes across better than a bunch of random thoughts that have been going through my head. And not as a woe is me but a prayer to break my heart for the people, pain, and destruction that are in Lakeshore. And my realization that the ministry here is bigger than I can wrap my mind around and God brings glory to Himself in a multitude of ways.

It's easy for me to show you the light heartedness and the fun that we have around here. And honestly for me it's a lot easier to focus upon that than dwelling on the destruction, the need, and the hurt that still exists around Lakeshore and expanding down the Gulf Coast. I am sad to say that over the past year maybe I have become jaded. I can remember my first time coming to Lakeshore and the terrible sight I saw. In January of 06 clean up had been going on for 5 months, though things were still pretty bad around here. Homes were still inches off the road, debris was everywhere, and many were just getting their FEMA campers after living in tents for months.

I came to Lakeshore last June to begin what was meant to be a summer mission trip, which ended up being a little longer. I love the work that is happening through the church. This area is such a huge mission field. This little Baptist church is a light in the very catholic community. I knew the first two times that I was down here that this was a church that was devoted to helping her community and not focused on just getting the church buildings rebuilt and getting back to normal. From the beginning this church was committed for the long haul. More important than that, this church was committed to preaching the gospel and emphasized glorifying God in every situation and circumstance. Maybe it shouldn’t amaze me as much as it did, but this little church continued to glorify God, though the community was destroyed by the storm; people’s lives were lost; and the storm left a multitude of people depressed and looking for hope.

Throughout this past year I have seen many things, some that were exciting and some broke my heart. I’ve been able to see: several people move into their homes, believers getting excited about doing what was right and growing in their relationship with the Lord, relationships have been built between residents in Lakeshore and volunteers around the country, and Lakeshore Baptist church continues to help whoever she can in the community. Along with the great things that are happening reality is there is still a lot of hurting people in this area, people who are depressed and have lost hope, people still living in FEMA campers with no idea of when or how financially they will be able to build a house, people who are affected by the drug and alcohol problems, and those who are still in dire need of the few groceries they can get from the distribution center.

I was reminded the other day that everyone in this area has a story and if you are willing to listen they will and need to talk. One group that was here this past week (Journey Community Church from MI) had one of their leaders (Beth) blog about their experiences each day here is Lakeshore. As I was reading day four of their trip, my heart began to ache as I realized that I have allowed myself to forget the hurt that I saw in people as they told me their stories the first couple times I was in Lakeshore. She wrote about listening to Linda a lady who works in the distribution center, Chip who lived in the house where our kitchen sits, and Ms. Nancy a woman in the community where Beth’s team was working.

Though I see it everyday, sometimes the need and the hurt that still exists in this area is far from my mind. I sometimes get too focused on getting projects done, rather than focusing the people behind those projects, the people who are still hurting. I will admit that I can in no way fully imagine what the folks on the coast have been through in the past two years. I’ve never been through a natural disaster, never lost all my belongings and my home, never had to live out of a truck or tent, never had to explain to a child why they cannot go back to their home, and never had to wait on people to deliver food, water, and ice just for basic survival.

I am grateful, though, in times like this that I am reminded of my purpose for coming to Lakeshore. It was not because I fully understood what the folks here in Lakeshore were going through, but because the Lord placed me here to minister along side Lakeshore Baptist Church and the hurting folks in the community. It was not for my own comfort, but to be a part of proclaiming the gospel in this community. I was not so I’d be recognized and praised, but so God would be glorified in Lakeshore, the state of Mississippi, and around the United States.

It is my prayer that the Lord would continue to break my heart for the lost and the hurting here in Lakeshore, that I could learn to weep with those who weep. That I would not become just focused on projects, but that I’d be focused on sharing the gospel and listening to the hurting. I do not want to just give them a more comfortable place to go to hell from. I need to be reminded and not allow myself to disconnect myself from the hurt and the stories of the people in the community. There is so much work left to do in Lakeshore, not only with building houses, but ministering to the community and it’s my prayer that the Lord would use me in any way in the rebuilding and ministry of Lakeshore Baptist that would bring Him the most glory.

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