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The Open Door


Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has a special message for Georgia Baptists: “Thank you for all you have done over the past five years to bring relief and healing to the people of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.” Janice and I had the privilege of enjoying lunch with the governor at the Governor’s Mansion in Louisiana along with several other executive directors and their wives.

Governor Jindal was pleased as I told him that following the hurricane’s impact on New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast, Georgia Baptists responded by giving a relief offering of five million dollars to support the relief efforts. I was glad to be able to tell him of the thousands of good Georgia Baptists who have traveled to his state over the past five years to do disaster relief work.

I was especially gratified to tell him of the hundreds of Baptist students who traveled to the region to minister to the needs of thousands. As a result of those efforts, many of our students made life commitments to mission service and full-time Christian work. Governor Jindal, a deeply committed follower of Christ, seemed particularly thrilled to hear about the work of our students.

He proceeded to say that of all the people who engaged with Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, no one had the impact that the churches had. He said that the state greatly appreciates all of the churches that helped during the recovery.

He spoke of how efficiently the churches did the work of disaster relief by comparison to any other group or agency that provided assistance. I knew you would be pleased to hear of his kind words of appreciation for so many of you who made such a huge difference in Louisiana.

Governor Jindal also spoke very highly of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and all that they mean to the region. He spoke of the leadership that they have provided to the entire region and the fine example of recovery that they have set for others. Dr. Chuck Kelley, president of the seminary, has expressed to me on several occasions his appreciation for all that Georgia Baptists did for the seminary following Katrina.

Some of you may not be aware that the convention provided housing for students, administrative staff, and faculty in Atlanta when they were displaced from their homes in New Orleans. Time and again, you ministered with immediate resources to provide for their needs and long-term assistance with recovery of the campus that was hit hard by the flood waters.

I am very grateful for Stuart Lang, who heads our disaster relief work in Georgia, and the many, many volunteers who are always on the “ready” for whatever disaster may come. Thousands of Georgia Baptist volunteers have been trained and are highly capable of handling difficult disaster situations. My hat is off to our “yellow hat” volunteers.

My time with Governor Jindal reminded me again of the far-reaching impact of the Georgia Baptist Convention. You are known for your devotion to Jesus Christ and your faithfulness in taking your witness for Jesus wherever challenges present an opportunity to do so.

You have responded in a similar way to the disaster in Haiti. Our churches quickly gave over one million dollars to provide aid to Haiti following the earthquake.

You purchased buckets and prepared nearly 17,000 Buckets of Hope to distribute food and needed supplies to the many Haitians who have been displaced from their homes. We have teams of Georgia Baptists who are going to Haiti on a regular basis to provide relief work.

Recently, one of our campus ministry teams worked to rebuild a church and share their witness among the Haitians. As a result they saw 30 people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

No doubt, disasters will continue to occur. As we enter the worst part of the hurricane season, we are prepared to go in a moment’s notice to provide relief and share our faith in Christ.

Thank you, Georgia Baptists, for being a people who care and demonstrate your love for Christ by ministering to the needs of others.