I cannot pretend that I know the feelings of the residents of the gulf coast today, August 29. It was two years ago that hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and left the lives of many in shambles. Every home here in Lakeshore took on water, many of them were removed from their foundations or sucked out into the gulf.
I reflect back on that day, I was in my fifth year of college in Platteville, WI. Most of what I remember reading on the news was taking place in New Orleans because of the levees that had broke and the water that was filling the city. A few other times I saw pictures of casinos in Gulfport and Biloxi that had been tossed to and fro. I don't ever remember specifically seeing anything on Waveland or Bay St. Louis, though I may have, but nothing on the place called Lakeshore.
I knew Katrina had left massive devastation on the coast, but at that point, I felt, there was not much I could do. It was November of 2005 when I was presented with the idea from my Pastor to take a trip to the Mississippi gulf coast. He said he'd heard through a friend about a place called Lakeshore Baptist Church. So we began planning to head south. My pastor gave me the website address of the church and the pastor's blog and I began reading about Lakeshore Baptist Church – a place I'd never heard of, but eventually would fall in love with and spend a couple years serving
I was watching the local news last night, hearing them talk about the storm brought on some weird feelings. Feelings that in no way, I imagine, match the residents of the gulf coast. Feelings I cannot totally describe. There is a feeling of awe – watching the images of the storm come ashore makes me stand in awe of the power of our God. A power that I cannot fathom. I believe he is able to hold the storm in the palm of his hand and this storm was huge and powerful, but God's much bigger and much more powerful. There is an encouraging feeling as I continue to take phone calls and receive emails from people all over the nation that are planning trips to Lakeshore Baptist Church. I'm sure it's a different encouraging feeling – it's not my community or home that they are coming to rebuild. Yet there's still something about folks from all over coming to help and getting to see and meet them that is encouraging.
Though there's still a bit of sadness that grieves for the community. It has been two years and many in the area are still living in FEMA campers. Daily I see people come into the office that are looking for help. Some have started and need assistance with doing things they are unable to do. Others have no money and have nothing started and really don't know where to turn. Some are at their wits end and have lost hope. I pray for this community that they will continue to be encouraged and that those who feel like there is no hope and they have no place to turn, will turn to Christ, our only hope. God who became man, to live a life that we cannot live, to die for us, so that, those who'd believe would not face eternal judgment. The only One who can really give hope.
I cannot begin to communicate the feelings of the folks in the area, but I've been given the opportunity to be here and serve a community that hurting and to get to know the people affected by the storm. This has been an amazing experience. I've learn much about myself, but more importantly I've grown in the knowledge of God. His providence, His will, His provision, His sustaining grace, His mercy, His wrath, His glory.
Pastor Don also wrote a post today on the rebuildlakeshore website about the storm, his first blog post after the storm, the progress that has been made, and the fact that there is still a long road ahead of us.