Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, changing forever both the landscape and the demographics of the affected communities. New Orleans (pronounced Orlins, not Orleens) continues to struggle three years later as thousands of homes are abandoned and many businesses are closed. Hundreds of families migrated to other parts of the country to seek shelter from the storm and never returned because their homes and livelihood were destroyed. Even though the city has adopted as its motto,”Return, Rebuild, and Rebirth”, the three-year anniversary on August 29, 2008, is a depressing reminder that progress has been painfully slow.
Chris and Deb Hindal joined a mission team from Florida and one from New Jersey during the week of August 10-16 at the Berean Bible Church of New Orleans, to help assess the current status and participate in the rebuilding efforts. For one week, Chris joined the others and engaged in construction in two homes and a deaf Baptist church. Berean Bible Church over the course of several years has established a presence in the William J.Fischer Elementary Charter School that services that Afro-American neighborhood. Church personnel have been asked to speak at school assemblies and have conducted Vacation Bible School in the school facility.
Deb, along with others, assisted the teachers in their first week of school, painting, organizing materials, and transforming their classrooms into a learning environment. Throughout the week we were reminded that our real mission was not about the physical work we were doing but the potential for building relationships with people. We were able to pass out Katrina “Why” tracts and pray with individuals to encourage them in their distress. The Scripture says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,” Matthew 5:16. As the teams ministered in the community, they invited individuals to join them for a special meal on Wednesday night. Three couples, a teenage son and a single lady responded which provided further contact for the church.
Please pray that God will use this faithful congregation and the hundreds of volunteers that have assisted them to produce fruit that will remain.