Only days after a massive tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma with 200 mile hour winds, the people of the city and surrounding areas are doing what victims of every natural disaster have always done: they are beginning to pick up the pieces, the debris, and building their lives again. Graduations are being held, people are going back to work, churches are congregating once again. However, despite the community working hard toward the arduous journey of building up their community back to normalcy, we here in Louisiana know from experience that this moment they are experiencing is a unique one and is far from normal. It is full of pain, misery, questioning, and an open mind to hearing about the One who is the great Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter. The effect of a natural disaster on a community is a devastating one, yet with it brings the opportunity for Christians on the home front to share mercy, compassion, service, love, and of course, the Gospel. Please pray with us for those believers who are in their own homeland, beginning their own mission to the un-reached in their own backyard. Our hearts are heavy for those who have lost their loved ones, and their lives as they knew it. But we pray that God would use this time to reach those who are broken, and in need of the Savior. For a video chronicling the touch down and growth of the hurricane, click here. For an aerial map of Moore, OK before and after the tornado, click here.
On Sunday evening, our neighbors to the north in Hattiesburg, MS were unexpectedly hit with several tornadoes, including a mile-wide category three tornado with 145 mph winds damaging seventy-five miles of land. Thankfully, there are no reported deaths, however, 63 people were injured and 2 people were in critical condition as a result of the severe weather. Many homes and businesses were destroyed, and many were damaged, including the University of Southern Mississippi. To make matters worse, the weather has continued to be tumultuous. Flash flood warnings and constant rain have slowed the clean-up and relief effort. For those of us in the New Orleans, we are not strangers to destructive storms, but with hurricanes you have time to prepare and evacuate. Tornadoes give little warning at all. Please pray for the people of Hattiesburg, that they would find their strength and help from God, and rely on his grace alone for their redemption and hope. Here are a few links with more information about the storm, the damage, and the people of Hattiesburg: For pictures of the damage, click here. For a video interviewing residents of Hattiesburg, and the mayor, click here. For information on the storm and recovery process, click here. For a video of the actual tornado, click here.
The 2013 Super Bowl, hosted by New Orleans, drew in thousands of tourists and party goers this past weekend and among them came hundreds of street preachers from all over the nation. Sovereign Grace Fellowship had the immense privilege of hosting three gentlemen from the multitude of street preachers that came to share the Gospel. John Chisham, Kevin Posterik, and John Hedberg drove almost 24 hours from Minnesota to arrive in New Orleans to spend their hours on the streets, preaching the Word of God. Their passion for the Lord, for truth, and for the lost was refreshing, encouraging and challenging. Each one has their own style of preaching from simply reading the Word of God openly in public to engaging people they meet in a more one on one fashion. Kevin is a self-proclaimed "lazy preacher". His style is to wear a thought provoking hat, sign or t-shirt to draw people to him so that he may answer their questions as he hands out tracts that he himself has written. As they preached in downtown New Orleans, they had beer bottles thrown at them, were cursed and verbally assaulted; all of which is to be expected when publicly speaking about the truth of our need for repentance and faith. We thank the LORD for these men and the opportunity to host them in our fellowship and pray that God would bless their work and soften the hearts of those that heard the Gospel this weekend.
In the wake of Isaac, we've been to many community meetings around the New Orleans area. What we have found is a need that extends beyond rebuilding and handing out food and clothing. What our community needs is service and compassion that reaches past the hands and to the heart with the Gospel on our lips. With Hurricane Isaac, many people who had come home and rebuilt their houses after Katrina find themselves homeless once again. Still more people who safely weathered Katrina are now in shock because their neighborhoods flooded after Isaac. Though Isaac was not as large or as devastating a storm as Katrina, we have found that many people after a month are still trying to figure out how to pick up their lives. In this time of loss and confusion, we desire to provide a ministry of comfort and grace. Enter a group of dear sisters from Juanita Community Church in Kirkland, Washington. They began making quilts to send down to us a few years ago and since Isaac, have rekindled that work. This is a wonderful, personal ministry of care to those who have lost much. We’ve decided to expand this ministry to include people who make quilts. So, if you can quilt, or know someone who can, and would like to join us in our efforts by supporting those who do, please click here.
Hurricane Isaac has finally moved on but in his aftermath we have found devastation in some areas that is worse than Hurricane Katrina caused. To date, some parts of Slidell are still underwater and other areas like LaPlace, Jefferson Parish, and Plaquemines Parish are struggling to get back on the road to recovery. Many residents of the area are without power for almost five days in a row, and still others do not have clean water. Though Isaac was only a Category 1 hurricane, he moved at the glacial pace of six miles per hour which kept his heavy rain and whipping winds over us for days. Many trees, powerlines, signs, buildings, vehicles, and homes have been damaged in this storm. Even after the storm, there are still the dangers of flooding rivers, locks, and dams that keep our residents in constant anxiety. All people living along the Tangipahoa River were evacuated on Thursday, and today, residents living between Lock No. 1 and Lock No. 2 of the Pearl River Diversion Canal have been asked to evacuate because officials fear that Lock No. 2 will fail. We gladly accept any help you can provide, most especially your time as volunteers to help rebuild the area. We also accept monetary donations, which will go to providing tools, building materials, and personal supplies for those who need it. If you would like to volunteer or would like to donate food, clothing, or any other item, please call us (985-445-3776 OR 985-643-8215) or email us here first before sending us anything. Although we are grateful for the donation, we want to make sure we don't have too much of one thing, and not enough of another. We will keep you up to date frequently on Facebook. To go to our Facebook page, click here. As always, please pray as we seek to serve others and provide help to our community while keeping the Gospel of Christ our first priority.
All eyes are glued to the news as we watch to see the path of Isaac which became an official hurricane just one hour ago. Many of us here at Homeland Missions are hunkered down at Sovereign Grace Fellowship. Pastor Eddie is live-blogging about the hurricane at his Evacu-blog. He will keep you, our friends and family in the Lord, aware of what's going on. Please pray with us as the winds pick up, the rain begins to pelt down, and we wait to see what happens.
What does true ingenuity and social entrepreneurship look like? We only had to look as far as the next city over, right here in the New Orleans area. The Vintage Garden Kitchen is a nonprofit organization that makes fresh organic soup from their own organic gardens, and delivers them to people's doorstep. Along with other partnering businesses under the Arc Enterprises umbrella, the Kitchen is used as a means to train and hone the marketable skills that those who have intellectual disabilities have. In fact, Arc Enterprises' mission statement says they are committed to securing for all people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop, function and live to their fullest potential. They believe that everyone has unique talents that can be used to help people sustain themselves within community. This is a great example of thinking outside societal norms, creatively seeking ways to utilize those who are often discarded as worthless while at the same time creating a wholesome and tasty product: soup! Take a look at the article in the Times-Picayune here. To learn more about the Vintage Garden Kitchen, click here. To check out Arc Enterprises, click here.