Flexibility is the keynote of missions. This group was scheduled to fly out of Houston and arrive in New Orleans at 10:38 PM. They arrived after Mid-night and didn't get to sleep until about 2:30 AM. Here they are loading luggage on my truck.
Ben Sigmundik wrote an article which was published today August 29th in the Texas A&M newspaper "The Battalion" about his trip to Immanuel Baptist Church with a mission group from West Oaks Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas where he is the Children's Minister, and a sophomore at Texas A&M. The group was a tremendous encouragement to IBC as they emphasized working on the church grounds. I can't help but think what a difference it would make in the lives of churches if more of us would step out of our environment to go help another struggling church with some simple clean up.
This group also spent part of one day passing out over 600 door hangers.
In his article, "New Orleans two years after Katrina Sobering Experience", Ben recounted the late night, actually early morning, arrival and the trek to Slidell from the airport in New Orleans. He spoke of the plywood bunks with very thin egg crate mattresses, and expressed thanks that at least there was an air conditioner.
Ben, along with Pastor James Heffington and the rest of the group, showed no signs of the "Katrina Fatigue" which seems to be lapping at the heels of citizens and believers alike around the country. Two years of Katrina should be enough most people believe, even as the name continues to hover over the country like a giant seismic cloud threatening at any moment to spew its hateful contamination upon the unsuspecting populace. It has cost the governor any chance of re-election and driven locals to demonstrate the heights of moral character, and the depths of moral depravity. Katrina promises to stretch into the next presidential election cycle, and though the 100 mph plus winds have long since died, she continues to wreak havoc among the weak, the elderly, and the emotionally unstable.
Completing the roof for the building which housed several hundred volunteers over the months, and now serves as a Youth and Children's Building.
Immanuel Baptist Church lost three buildings during the storm, but the greatest blow has come as individual families have begun to experience discouragement over the slow rate of growth. Such discouragement leads to dis-satisfaction with everything from the sermons to church polity and even doctrinal positions. The inevitable personality conflicts eventually become exacerbated and there seems little possibility of stemming the tide which continues inexorably on toward the looming reefs of destruction, until and unless God sends revival among His people so that they may be guided safely through the treacherous waters.
"Katrina Fatigue" seems to have given the evil one an opportunity to gain a beach head in the lives of individuals, who then are seemingly unaware of the fortresses he builds up causing defeat and moral failure in those who seemed on the road to productive lives reflective of the Grace of Almighty God. "Katrina Fatigue" is no excuse for the pre-occupation with self and things which leads to broken relationships and disrupted churches. However, I do think it explains what has happened. We remain responsible for the choices we make, and I believe the time of testing God has allowed us to endure will eventually bring great victories in His Name, when we stand fast to our first love and complete those things we have been led to begin.
Pastor Heffington said, “It was a great opportunity to help this church that has been helping out all these other people.” Since Katrina hit; hundreds, if not thousands, have slept in IBC's facilities as they have ministered on both sides of Lake Ponchatrain. They have hung thousands of door hangers, dispensed untold food packets, gutted houses, rebuilt roofs, hung sheetrock, and demonstrated Christ-like love in a myriad of ways.
Now, however, IBC stands on the precipice above a churning maelstrom which threatens to drown her in the lake of despair and frustration. She needs dedicated, sacrificial living members who are willing to accept responsibility and invest themselves in her future. She needs the prayers of God's people as she seeks to make inroads into a culture where even the Believers in Christ look to be served rather than to serve.
The group from little West Oaks Baptist Church, there in Bryan were totally sacrificial in their service, and our congregation received a needed shot of spiritual adrenalin. For a couple of days, that group ministered to us by doing needed repairs, weeding the flowers, clearing brush, and just loving us. What a blessing. There is no "Katrina Fatigue" at West Oaks Baptist Church.
Cleanup and debris removal with FEMA trailers in the background.
Weeding the flowers gave a new freshness to the grounds.
The metal roof was very hot, but that could not deter this intrepid worker.
The nursery receives needed upgrades.