As many of you know, I spent two of the past three weeks in the New Orleans area, helping with clean-up after Hurricane Isaac swept the area. God’s faithfulness to us was great and the stories of His work profound. I am working to record some of the stories but I am afraid I am still processing much of it. I can say that this last week especially, was one of the most intense I have ever experienced in the field.
For now, an update.
In times of crisis, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has long been relied upon by state and local agencies. The respect we receive from them is a direct testimony of praise to our God. However, last week, for the first time, the government asked us to work alongside anthropologists and forensics experts in disaster. It was truly ground-breaking work and I was blessed to have been there.
The first of our group to go in was a team of men from Texas. Their task was to assist with the initial phases of recovery. Mine was the second team. We worked with world renowned teams from FACES and D-MORT to process the remains. My job was to act as scribe for the FACES team, recording every possible detail and measurement, as well as any general observation made by the anthropologists. It was sobering work to say the least. Still, the situation afforded some very unique opportunities for Gospel ministry, and to once again proclaim the Name of Christ on TV.
I mention these things because I treasure the prayers of those who stood in the gap for us. Ask anyone involved in Disaster Relief and you will find that, by far, the most difficult part of our work is the lack of prayer support we receive. We leave home to carry the Gospel into the most devastating epochs of people’s lives. We enter their pain and rejoice in their triumph; we carry their stories all the days of our lives. We long to share those stories, to encourage the faith of others; but people in safe places aren’t concerned with devastation…
until it is their own.
But really, it is the story of us all. The work of disaster relief is the work of redemption. It is the fleshing out of the Gospel. It is tracing the steps of the Savior who ran to meet us in our devastation. It is our reasonable service, our acts of worship to the One who works all things (even disaster) for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Can there possibly be a more holistic endeavor of Gospel outreach? I know of none.
Ultimately the world won’t care how well we sing or about the way in which we construct our services; but when we follow Christ into devastation, they take note of what we are doing… and the Gospel we go to proclaim. Why else would the Homeland Security Secretary take time from her schedule? Why else would a federal agency feature our ministry on their website? There are hundreds of other aide organizations; why give us a platform?
It is the Gospel that makes the difference. Only the Gospel. And when you stand beside us in prayer or in physical support, you become a part of what God is doing.
For those who prayed alongside me, the following is a video of the location and the people with whom I worked. Again, I treasure your prayers–more than I can possibly begin to say. Know that eternity will speak for me, revealing all the ways in which our God has answered you.
Crews in Plaquemines Parish work to put dozens of tombs and coffins back in their original spots after they were unearthed during Hurricane Isaac. Meg Gatto has the story.