In Luke 6 Jesus makes it clear that it’s not “if” the storms come, but “when” the storms come.
For us who call Louisiana home, the storms have come – again.
Like many of you, I watched the radars that showed storm, after storm, after storm streaming from south to north. The colors on the radar screen were yellow, orange and dark green indicating heavy rains falling again and again over the same water-soaked areas.
Flood watches and flash flood warnings scrolled across the bottom of our screens and lit up our smart phones. Schools began to close as rising waters made many rural roads, and even main highways, impassable.
The recent storms did not generate the national media coverage of a Katrina, Rita or Ike, but they’ve affected a much wider area. Across the entire I-20 corridor in north Louisiana, down the western side of the state and stretching through central Louisiana to the north shore, the rain event of 2016 dumped over 20 inches of rain in some places causing rivers, streams and bayous to rise to historic levels.
According to recent Baptist Message reports, in excess of 7,000 homes have been affected across 28 parishes. In addition to our state disaster relief teams, teams from at least 10 other states are sending assistance. Feeding units are up and running and mud-out teams are waiting for waters to recede.
But I’ve learned this about Louisiana Baptists – when the storms move out, we move in. I’m reading story after story on social media about our churches collecting food, clothing and other necessities for their communities. Some churches are serving as shelters until the water recedes. The yellow shirts are there – again, bringing hope, help and sharing the love of God.
David Abernathy, who works alongside Louisiana Baptists Disaster Relief Coordinator Gibbie McMillan, said, “In my 24 years in Disaster Relief, I have never seen the churches rise to the occasion like they have with this flooding event. They are ministering and working together like never before.”
Thank you for rising to meet this growing need even faster than the flood waters overran their banks. To borrow a phrase from Paul, “I thank my God every time I think of you.”
So, what can you do?
- Stay updated on the needs in your area through social media, our website (LouisianaBaptists.org/DisasterRelief) or the Baptist Message website (BaptistMessage.com).
- Pray for the families affected, for the Disaster Relief volunteers and for God to provide comfort, wisdom and resources. Ask Him to draw people to Himself, even in the midst of this situation.
- Participate. More volunteers are needed and emergency training sessions are being conducted. Check with your local association, our website, the Baptist Message website or our social media outlets for the latest information regarding training events in your area.
- Donate. Many people have lost everything. Bring clothes, food, and cleaning supplies. . Your Cooperative Program and Georgia Barnette gifts provide the equipment and infrastructure, but your cash gifts provide the specific supplies needed for each situation.
I wrote a small booklet following Katrina called “When Saints Go Marching In.” I’m reminded of that again as we deal with the aftermath of this calamity. It is heartbreaking to see so many lose so much. But at the same time, it is heartwarming to see the church, and specifically Louisiana Baptists, rise to the occasion and march in to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our communities.
May God bless and strengthen all of us during what will be a long recovery.