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The Open Door


Janice and I made the decision this year that we would drive to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio. An important part of this trip would be the opportunity to drop down from I-10 to travel along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and on the return to ride into New Orleans to view lingering damage from Katrina and see how the relief effort is progressing. What a great blessing Georgia Baptist folks have been to those who have suffered from this amazingly devastating storm.

To tell you the truth, we were shocked to see how much damage is still evident, how many homes and businesses are still untouched. There is so much work that remains to be done that it boggles the mind.

Georgia Baptist volunteers such as those from First Baptist Ty Ty have been instrumental in helping rebuild the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, much work is left to be done. A call is being given for more volunteers to help with reconstruction of churches such as First Baptist Bay St. Louis, Miss.

We were particularly touched by seeing the First Baptist Church of Bay St. Louis. I took pictures so I could share with you what we saw. First Baptist Bay St. Louis is meeting in their renovated fellowship hall area while the sanctuary, what remains of it, is open to the elements. It was heart-breaking to see the need of this church family two years after the hurricane struck.

Stuart Lang, who heads up disaster relief work for Georgia Baptists, informed me that the reason the sanctuary remains in its present condition is because the church has committed to helping the community restore their lives, homes, and businesses before they take care of their own needs.

We were pleased that a group of Georgia Baptists were on site from Ty Ty working at the church. I recently met the pastor, Al Green, at a senior adult meeting at First Baptist Jonesboro. He personally expressed his appreciation for the many Georgia Baptists who have been in their community helping in the restoration work.

I said to Janice on that day that itís time to help this church rebuild their sanctuary. I want to call on Georgia Baptists to help make that happen. Further, this is not the only Baptist church in the area that needs reconstruction.

I understand from Stuart that there are several in similar condition. I think we can help. We have done a lot, but we can do more. This convention is strong in people and resources. Letís do more to make a difference.

I want to thank all of you who have been to New Orleans and to the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast. Your sacrifice of love has meant more to the wonderful people whose lives were turned upside down than you can imagine.

What I am hoping to communicate clearly in this article, though, is the fact that we cannot quit now! There is so much that needs to be done. If you have been to the area to work, I hope you will return to do more work. If you have not been to the area, you are not too late. Your help is desperately needed now.

Please consider giving further assistance in this time of need. I encourage you to call the Georgia Baptist Convention and request to speak with Disaster Relief. The staff will fill you in on the mission opportunities that are awaiting our involvement along the Gulf Coast.