Out Here Hope Remains

There is hope for the helpless ... Cry Out To Jesus. -- Third Day

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tuesday on the Coast

Today was mostly a quiet day around Central. I suppose the Mardi Gras parades had the crowds otherwise occupied. I saw Mr. Roy Clark this morning and to demonstrate the fact that he was feeling much better, he danced a little jig for me. We both laughed. I am grateful that he is recovering from his fall quickly. Ken Wiley is still in the hospital, and they decided to do his back surgery tomorrow (Wednesday). I want to tell you a story of something that happened to David Kilbern today .... but I have to warn you that it does have some earthy elements to it. David and Elaine left today for Pensacola for an overnight visit with Elaine's sisters. They stopped in Mobile and ate lunch then headed back onto the interstate. They knew they needed gas, but it slipped both of their minds. So half way to Pensacola they are on the side of the interstate out of gas. Elaine's sister brings some gas and they drive into a service station. While in the restroom, David met a man from a local church that was looking to donate some money to hurricane relief! It never ceases to amaze me how God just keeps blessing our community with help. Please say a prayer for the Carpenter family tonight. Richard Carpenter passed away just before nine tonight. Richard is, I think, 33 years old. His fight with cancer was a brief one - as he just discovered it a few short months ago. Even though he was in a lot of pain, he never lost his sweet sense of humor. I last saw him Saturday surrounded by friends from his church in Birmingham. They had come down to cheer him up and to say their goodbyes. Richie was a wonderful Christian man that I admired. His beautiful and faithful Christian mother passed away from cancer about four years ago. This family has suffered much grief in all of this, yet they know that their loved ones are safe in the arms of Jesus. Lift them up in prayer and ask God to comfort their hearts. Needless to say, I will not be speaking at Brookhaven, MS tomorrow night. Thanks, Otis, for understanding. Tomorrow night begins 31 nights of preaching at Central. This is either brilliance or craziness! Pray for us as we reach out to our community with the beautiful Gospel of Christ. We are all terminal. As we walk toward our destiny, have we placed our full trust in Jesus Christ? I pray that if you have not, you will.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Catching Up

We had a good weekend at Central with lots of activity, as usual. Saturday was a day of bad weather, but it did pass. Sunday morning we had 109 assembled with only a few hurricane relief workers present. My sermon was on the two greatest commands, with an emphasis on the second one as it relates to hurricane relief. It was great to have a few of our members present who have had significant health problems recently. A big surprise was to walk into Central Sunday morning and see Tony the truckdriver (on the right in the picture to the left) in the foyer. Longtime readers of this blog will remember Tony's inspiriational visit from State Center, Iowa early on. I reminded you of his visit when we served the Grubbs. They had received a foodbox from Tony's visit and a card inside from Lucas. It turns out that Tony had no idea about that story. He told me that he tries to do all the good he can as he travels the United States, but he never knows if it does any good. He was blessed to know that his delivery of the foodbox resulted in bringing much happiness to an elderly couple and a young boy who cared enough to write from Iowa to the Coast. Since my last post I have learned of Doug Conklin's (on the left in the picture above) decision to move to the Coast. (Now I must admit that as I sit here I have doubts that I have his name right ... I'll work on that and make a correction if need be!!!). He was a part of one of the Hope Missions team from Pennsylvania. He has a big heart, and a lot of ability. We are so blessed to have his talent and his love for the Lord to influence all of us here at Central. The lord has sent laborers into his Harvest field! Speaking of laborers, we were sorry to see our helpers from Indiana head back home. I admit to being terrible with names. In the picture to the right there is one great couple who were very helpful (I'll try to get their names!). Next to them is David and Elaine Kilbern. Next is David Jordan win the blue hat. All the way to the right is Ellen and Morris Bristow. Ellen originally came down with three other retired ladies. This time she brought Morris, and he is a character who brings a lot of joy to the worksite! These are salt-of-the-earth folks who love the Lord and love to give time and energy to His people. And they all do so with a smile on their face! I spent most of today helping Kenneth Wiley get checked into the hospital in Mobile for back surgery tomorrow. He is the one who was baptized last Wednesday. Keep him in your prayers and I'll let you know how things turn out. An update on Roy Clark - maybe he knew more than I did! He's doing much better! That's great! David and Elaine will be out of town for a few days. They deserve to take a week or two off, but their heart is right here in the chaos of service. Please do not neglect to keep them in your prayers. Check out my young friend's new blog, click here: Cecil May, IV. C4 is a brilliant young man who has a great sense of humor. He will be entering engineering graduate school at Mississippi State University this Fall. He is also a fine Christian brother who even occasionally preaches when there is a need. His dad, Cecil May III has a blog, but he doesn't update it. His grandfather was a teacher of mine, Cecil May, Jr. He does not have a blog, but he does run the Bible department at Faulkner University. I also met "Daddy May", so I have been acquainted and friends with four "Cecil Mays". Wonder if there will be a Cecil May V one day? Thanks for reading and when you get a chance, commenting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Blind to the Truth

I spent most of yesterday working with social workers at Singing River Hospital to find Roy Clark (see last post) a place to spend a week in an assisted living facility. We got him settled in and hope he will have some recovery, perhaps enough to go home. I talked with someone who knows him back home and they are working to get him back to Eupora, Mississippi. Thanks to a Wal Mart gift card left by the group from Little Rock that came a few weeks ago, I was able to buy Mr. Clark some pajamas and other clothing that he needed. Although he is a neat older fellow, he is very stubborn! He believes in a few days he will be able to work again. I tried to tell him that his injuries from falling off of the top of a six foot ladder are more extensive than he believes. However, he continues to be blind to the truth. Our local paper is reporting today that there are 5,000 FEMA campers in Pascagoula with 15,000 people living in them. Hurricane season 2006 begins June 1. These people cannot ride out a hurricane in a camper. Where will 15,000 people go? Good question. Rebuilding homes is a crucial priority at this time. This is a truth that is hard to ignore. Click Here: Today's Editorial in the Sun Herald is excellent. Click Here: Before and After Pictures from across the Coast. Many of our relief workers will go home today, setting us up for a week with few helpers. One church group is scheduled to be present next week. They will arrive while our city 'celebrates' Mardi Gras. I cannot say strongly enough how rediculous it is for our city to participate in drunken revelry tossing out beads and moon pies and screaming at second rate floats. It is mind-numbingly ignorant to waste thousands and thousands of dollars on these things while people cannot live in their own homes. What does this tell us about human nature? Some people are just blind to the truth. I have read that CNN will be in New Orleans to cover the parades. I often ponder why a parade gets such national attention, but 15,000 homeless people are ignored? Why are we having studies at the national level about the initial Katrina response, when a continual Katrina response is needed? Well, it's easy to get stirred up about such things ... but ultimately Christians live in a different world. The Kingdom of God is breaking into people's lives in powerful ways. There are many who are coming to know Christ in deeper ways. We will do what we can to snatch men from the fire and teach them of the Jesus who longs to bring them a new life....a new vision of the reality in wihch we live. Thank God for the reality of His faithfulness and His promises.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Good News Continues

GOOD NEWS NIGHTS with Danny Dodd are officially over, but the good news was very good indeed! Tuesday night was an awesome night with a fantastic message. In fact, more than one person said that these were some of the best messages they had heard Danny preach. I agree! Tuesday and Wednesday, Ed Humphries, Singles and College Minister from Gateway in Pensacola led our worship. What energy, passion, and joy these brothers brought to Central with them! We had community visitors each night, as well as hurricane relief workers from around the country and campaign workers from Magnolia Bible College. Monday and Tuesday night we were honored to have Les Ferguson, Sr. with us, along with Roger Hines and his wife from Kosciusko, MS. Tuesday night we were glad to have A.L. and June Franks, who have faithfully ministered to the entire state of Mississippi via the Magnolia Messenger for many years. Tonight Garvis Seymore (above with Ed and Danny), President of Magnolia Bible College was with us. It was great to see all of these friends! After the services Tuesday night, Ken told me that he wanted to be a part of the Central Family. We met and talked for a while, and he expressed his desire to be baptized. While I rejoiced with Ken's decision, I also wondered how we could accomodate this. Ken is in a wheelchair. This brother is so delightful and has such a lovely attitude, you would think that everything in his life was just the way it should be. Not long ago Ken fell off of a roof onto a concrete drive. He came to us with no where to go, and we took him in. David Kilbern had to administer Ken's pain shots so that he could make it through each day ... until someone stole his pain medication. Ken will have surgery on his back this coming Monday. Please keep him in your prayers and I'll try to keep you posted on his condition. So, after thinking about this all day today and not knowing how we were going to do it, Robert, Eddie, Jessie and myself helped Ken unite his life with Christ through faith and baptism. It was a joyful moment that brought much rejoicing! I need to ask you to pray for Roy Clark. No, not the 'pickin and grinnin' star of Hee Haw, but a man we met a few days ago. When he first showed up at Central he was hungry and very dirty. Sixty-five years old, Roy was living in an abandoned house and scaring up carpenter work on the Coast. His wife, a diabetic, had dropped a large object on her foot and was in the hospital somewhere in North Mississippi facing a potential amputation. Roy, unfortunately, fell off of a six foot ladder and landed on his nailgun, resulting in a fractured back. Surgery will likely be necessary. He is a very sweet and humble man. Congratulations to Heather for attaining her 60 day chip ... 60 days free of drugs and alcohol! What a great accomplishment! And only with God's help! Looking forward to God's surprises tomorrow! You just never know what he has in mind. As David Jordan says, one way to make God laugh is to make plans. Thanks for reading (and commenting!).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Back Home Again

We had a great Sunday in Fulton, in spite of the snow and ice covering the ground and streets. That was simply an adventure for us ... something we never have to deal with here on the Coast. It was very pretty falling, and draping the houses and fields. Maggy and I enjoyed our supper and visiting at The Dublin's home in Water Valley, Kentucky very much. Their daughters Macy and Bailey and pug Rusty kept everyone entertained. The food was wonderful and we even got out the guitar and had some great fun together. Carrie is an accountant, so I appreciated her efforts during the 'busy season'.

We started our Sunday at the Smith Street Church of Christ. I showed the adult class slides of our work down here. I spoke during the morning worship hour, and followed that up with a wonderful fellowship meal with the church family there. There was a great deal of interest in the work on the Coast, especially since several members have been down to help already. To the right are some of the brothers who have been down more than once. Most every church in town chose not to meet because of the weather. In the parking lot after worship we met a man who was looking for a church to worship with. Since he had missed our worship hour, he did agree to come in and eat with us. He saw more pictures of the work on the Coast and told us he was a construction worker and would like to come down to help! Amen! Isn't God amazing! The Smith Street Building (left) was nice ... but the people who we met there were outstanding Christian brothers and sisters! We felt so blessed to be a part of their assembly that day.

We rested Sunday afternoon (really recovered from eating too much). The weather was more foreboding Sunday night since it sleeted all afternoon, but several brave souls came out to hear the report at the Parkway Church of Christ. Some even came from Smith Street to hear it a second time! To the Right is a picture of part of the Parkway building ... I didn't get a great shot of the whole thing! They also have a beautiful facility, but the people are what make Parkway a special place! It was a good night and I appreciated those who came to hear about our Coast ministry. We spent a long time visiting at the Cecil and Patti May home after services. Patti's caramel pie was a great way to end a long day! Cecil and Patti have been friends of ours for many years. We are so thankful for their hospitality and the concern they have for our family. This morning we got up and headed home ... a nine hour drive. We arrived just after services began at Central tonight. We are having three "Good News Nights" with Danny Dodd. He did his usual great job tonight. Students from Magnolia Bible College are here to distribute invitations to the night services. Also we have new people here from Missouri and some returning from Georgia. It was good to see everyone and it's going to be good to have a night's sleep in my own bed! Good night!

Hey, it's good to be back home again. Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend.Yes, and hey, it's good to be back home again. -- John Denver

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Maggy and I drove up from Ruleville, MS to Fulton, KY yesterday evening. We took our time and enjoyed the trip very much. I played my new Avalon CD as loud as I could along the way. Great songs, melodies, and harmonies! I'm using a chorus from one of their songs on my template now. After we arrived we talked with Patti May and decided to meet at Capones for supper. Cecil and Patti have been serving the Parkway Church of Christ for ten years or so, I think. We love visiting with them, although we very seldom get the chance. Cecil is with the young people at Winterfest in Gatlinberg, TN. Of course we knew we were driving into an area under a winter storm warning. I went into Wal-Mart last night to pick up some supplies. You would have thought that this town believed they were about to be sunk under 50 feet of snow never to be heard from again. Chaos and panic! Kind of like it is on the Coast when a hurricane is approaching. Before we went to bed last night it started snowing. We think it is beautiful because we do not have to live with it or see it often. This morning I would guess there were two or three inches of snow on the ground. We managed to get it off of the car and drive around town a bit (very cautiously!). The snow has now ceased and the temperature continues to sink. The low tonight is 12. Yes, 12. The high tomorrow is 31, with some more frozen precipitation expected tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully we will leave Monday morning to get back to the Coast Monday night. Today we stopped by the Smith Street Church of Christ, where I will speak in the morning. I met up with preacher Miles Mayo. Miles is a great brother. He has been down to the Coast to do hurricane relief and brings a lot of cheer and enthusiasm with him. The picture to the Left is Miles in front of his home. I look forward to the morning with the Smith Street Family. A group of men from that church came down to work in the relief effort this past week. They brought my granddaughter Claire a big bag full of Valetine gifts. What a sweet church to think of my granddaughter in this way! Tomorrow night I will speak at Parkway. Tonight we plan to eat with blogger friends Tommy and Carrie Dublin. Take a look at his blog and make sure to notice the snowWOMAN. That's a hoot. It's very Tommy. Meanwhile back home on the Coast, today was the day for the Hope Missions team to fly home to Pennsylvania. A crew from the Central Church of Christ in Dalton, GA will arrive this afternoon. Ross Jordan, a minister from that church, will preach in my place in the morning. GOOD NEWS NIGHTS return Monday - Wednesday night when Danny Dodd of the Gateway Church of Christ will be preaching for three nights. Join us each night at 7:00 if you are in the area! Students from Magnolia Bible College will be assisting with door-to-door invitations and encouragements to those we have helped. Prayer Request: Please keep Richard Carpenter in your prayers. He is a dear brother who grew up at Central. I believe he is 33 and has colon cancer. He had a bad night a few nights ago and I saw him in the hospital before we left on our trip. Lift him up daily to the Father. I hope your Saturday is going well and that you know the glory of His presence. There is a place where hope remains In crowns of thorns and crimson stains And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet Where joy and sorrow meet --Avalon

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No News Is Good News

Maggy and I have made it safely to her parent's home. We had a safe trip and are enjoying our visit. We had supper with Maggy's sisters and my brother in law. Looking forward to going to Fulton tomorrow. The forecast is for significant snowfall or ice. Pray for snow! Tommy, you might have to come get us from the hotel! We're not used to that stuff! That's all of my news for today! Hard to believe, isn't it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

500 Miles Away From Home

Tomorrow I will be heading up to North Mississippi, which means that tonight was the last time I would see the volunteers that are currently here for the week. It brings me sadness that I will likely never see my brothers and sisters from Pennsylvania again. Some of them may return, but who knows. Hope Missions has been awesome for us. They plan another trip in March. I think L. T. will be back, and perhaps some others who will be returning. I look forward to those missions. Every group has had its own personality and brings a different set of gifts along. They will fly out Saturday morning. They are a long way from home, but I hope they felt at home with us. In addition, David from California is heading out this weekend. What a blessing he has been to our work. David has been a quiet but strong worker. He doesn't want any fanfare but he has my admiration. He hopes to come back in June and perhaps bring his grandson. I hope he does. It is a bittersweet goodbye to these new friends, for sure. We felt like he was home-folks while he was here. The group from the Smith Street Church of Christ in Fulton, KY are doing a great job. So are the brothers from LaGrange, Georgia who are doing some painting. I think they're having too much fun! I wish I had pictures of everyone, but time is just too tight to get them all. Stan and Sue went home to Oklahoma. They were great servants. There are others here as well, and I do not intend to leave anyone out. These folks all deserve your prayers as they head home in the next few days. A worried mother from out West called me today. She insisted that she used to attend our church a long time ago, but by her questions I knew she wasn't talking about Central. Still, I listened to her talk. Her step daughter has just been moved into a FEMA camper in Pascagoula. Her name is Cheryl. Cheryl has cancer in both lungs and in her throat. She had most of what she needed, but she had no food. So I took her a couple of bags of groceries, not really knowing what I would find when I got into her camper. On her third kind of chemotherapy, Cheryl is basically an invalid. She says when she walks her legs feel like she weighs a ton. She vomits a lot because of the chemicals she is taking. She needs a motorized wheelchair in order to be mobile. Cheryl has six to nine months to live. I guess that means that she will spend the rest of her days in that aluminum can called a camper. Her dad really wants to come and see her, but he's 1600 miles away from home in Arizona. And he is dealing with his own war against cancer. I suspect that these two could be an immense comfort to one another, if they could only be together. But years of life have them living in different parts of the country. I hope we will be able to share the love of Jesus with Cheryl in the coming days. Congratulations to Robbie for 60 days clean and sober. Also congratulations to Heather for 47 days clean and sober. That's awesome! Unfortunately two of our friends we had hoped would be delivered from drugs have returned to that world. Please pray for these two precious children of God. We all hurt for them. Pray for us as Maggy and I travel far away from home this weekend. Away from home away from home Cold and tired and all alone Yes I'm five hundred miles away from home

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Home For A day

When Maggy and I arrived home from Prattville, I spent about an hour taking care of a few things and repacking. Then I drove over to Gulfport to my friend Les Ferguson's home. We loaded up in his truck and headed for Kosciusko, MS. I've known Les since I was 17 years old - when I first enrolled at Magnolia Bible College. Like many people, my college friends have been my lifelong friends. Les and his lovely wife Karen have three children: Kyle, Cole, and Conner. Kyle is a missions major at Faulkner University in Montgomery. Cole is the same age as my son, 16. Conner is ... I'm not sure how old Conner is ... but he is giving Les and Karen a run for their money. He is one hilarious kid! To this den of bearcubs is coming another one, William Casey, who is scheduled to be born in the next three weeks or so and immediately adopted by the Fergusons. They really have a lot of love to give, and they wanted to share it with someone who would need a new family. God bless 'em! We arrived at the home of Les' parents, Les and Margie Ferguson. Les Sr is the minister for the South Huntington Church of Christ in Kosciusko. At one time Les preached for the Warrenton Church of Christ in Vicksburg, where many of my mother's family attended. In fact, Les Sr baptized my grandfather just a few months before his death from lung cancer. Margie had a pot of taco soup and a pot of potato soup waiting for us. We sat up until midnight talking until we were getting too sleepy to go on! The next morning we joined the chapel service of Magnolia Bible College, where Les did a presentation on our work here on the Coast. It is interesting to me how different the work is between our two congregations ... just 40 miles apart ... but so different. Much of their business community was wiped out, whereas most of our residential community was flooded. Different problems. We made this presentation because next week almost 40 MBC students and staff will come down to do some missionary work among our two congregations, and we wanted to prepare them somewhat for the experience. While there I got to visit momentarily with Garvis Seymore, MBC President. Wish I could have spent more time with him, but our visit was a short one. Garvis and I attended MBC at the same time ... at least our school careers intersected along the way. He has told me that he read the blog regularly but just hasn't commented. (Now that I've outed you, you might as well comment! lol) He was familiar with the nerve ending test I underwent Saturday, as he has been through the same thing. Pray for Garvis ... he has an important work that needs God's blessing regularly. I was also pleased to meet Wayne Moore. Wayne has just accepted the preaching role at the Cleveland, MS church of Christ. I have several family members at that church and have served there twice as Youth and Campus Minister. Wayne seems like an outstanding brother and I enjoyed our visit so much. I look forward to hearing great things about his ministry in the Mississippi Delta. There were many others, of course, with whom I enjoyed talking. I don't get to talk to Allen Coker very often, so that was a treat for me. I could name several others, but my mind is getting fuzzy tonight! Our trip home was a good one, and I'm glad to be home ... for a day. Tomorrow I'll do what I can at the building for Hurricane Relief and also try to prepare for the MBC mission group coming down. I will try to get some pictures of the work crews. The crew from Smithville Church of Christ in Fulton, KY brought a big bag of Valentine gifts to my grand daughter. I thought that was awesome of them! Thursday we'll load up and head to Maggy's parents for one nights visit, then up to Kentucky where I will speak at two churches Sunday. Then Monday we'll race back home to be here for Danny Dodd speaking Monday - Wednesday night! Never a dull moment around here. I haven't talked to David in a few days, but I feel sure that things have continued on as usual around the church building. I'll update you tomorrow night on the relief effort. Thanks to my friend Mark who sent me a link to a cool Katrina presentation online. Even after nearly six months it is heartbreaking. I appreciate Brent Missildine for the kind comments on his blog. Now, Brent, that I've publicized your blog ... you have to update often! I've also been informed that I had a wrong link to Brent's congregation (Thanks, Rich). The correct link to that church is HERE. Thanks for reading and commenting. I have removed that annoying word verification thingy, so comment with greater ease now! Have a great Wednesday.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pratt-ically Speaking

We had a great morning at Central today. We had brothers and sisters from Pennsylvania (Hope Missions!), Starkville (MSU Students!), California, West Virginia, Kentucky, and other places I'm sure! I spoke from Mark 5 on the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment. Then this afternoon Maggy and I drove up to Prattville, Alabama. Tonight David Kilbern and I spoke at the Prattville Church of Christ about what we are doing on the Coast. Prattville Christians have been very good to us. David and I haven't had an opportunity to do this together before, and we enjoyed it very much. The Prattville Church has come down to do work so many times I have lost count. They donated a 15 passenger van to us that has been very handy. A brother in this church made the racks that our clothes are hanging on in the auditorium. Another brother donated a camper for my daughter to live in after the storm. This is such a giving church. I enjoy talking to their minister, Brent Missildine, as well. The church fed us a great meal tonight and allowed us to stay in a nice hotel before we head back home in the morning. We feel very blessed and taken care of. I would like to start naming names ... but I would miss someone. I think no one at PCOC would begrudge me giving Richard Medlin a LOT of credit for the great work that has come down to the Coast. Thanks, Richard and everyone else! Also in Prattville, the Hunter Hills Church of Christ also undertook massive hurricane relief efforts after Katrina. They, along with other relief organizations, repaired Gulf Coast Bible Camp so that it could be used as a staging area for workers along the Coast. At least twice they sent workers from David Lipscomb University to Pascagoula to help us out. Minister Don Campbell communicated with me via phone and e-mail. I've never met Don, but I would like to. We will have to leave early in the morning, so it will have to be another time. Perhaps we'll be able to come and visit both congregations some Sunday in the future....not to speak ... just to be present with the Family. Tomorrow Maggy and I will head back to Pascagoula. Tomorrow afternoon I will travel with Gary Kirkendall and Les Ferguson (Hey Les, get off of Xanga and get a real blog! ha!) to Kosciusko. Tomorrow we will be speaking in chapel at Magnolia Bible College. Next week some MBC students will be down on the Coast doing some evangelistic work. I expect God to use them in exceptional ways! We will be coming home, Lord willing, on Tuesday afternoon late. That will make two trips for the week, but there's a third one! I'll tell you about that in another post. Well, it's about to be Monday morning, so I'll post this blog so it will show up as a Sunday blogpost! Hope we all have a great week!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Breaking Away

I spent most of Saturday morning getting ready for Sunday morning. I also had that nerve ending test during the morning time. By the time I got to the building, ran off the bulletin, did a few other things, it was time to go to Mobile. Fourteen teenagers and hurricane relief workers headed over to the Mitchell Center at University of South Alabama for WINTERJAM. It was one of those things that was fun to breakaway and do, but mostly aimed at a younger audience than I offer! As an unexpected pleasure my dear friends Bill and Sabrina Collins (Gulfport) were there. Sitting by them was former Coast resident and friend David White. David has been instrumental in helping organize much hurricane relief work via Brentwood Hills church in Nashville. I saw Eric Petty (Gateway church of Christ, Pensacola) down the same aisle, but by then I couldn't hear! Like I said, it was meant for a younger crowd. To me it was too loud, I couldn't understand all the words, there was too much 'rap rock', and I was jealous of some of the singer's long hair. But on the upside, the kids had a great time listening to positive messages. The speaker, David Nasser, is from Iran. He had a great story to tell about how he came to American and turned his life from the Muslim religion to Christianity. I wasn't much on the warmup acts, they have a long way to go (in my oh so educated opinion!). New Song has been around a long time and their resurrection anthem, "Arise My Love" had everyone on their feet. Zoegirl (who would like to be Point of Grace) was very good, I thought. They sang one of my favorite praise songs, "Breathe". I also enjoyed a song they sang called Scream. I'll close this blogpost with those lyrics. But I'll also mention Toby Mac. I already knew he was out of my league, but I have to say, he and his crew put on a great show. He also had some great things to say to the young ladies about relationships and not allowing ungodly guys to manipulate them. His encouragement was to make sure they were Christians - above anything else. So I could appreciate that, even if his music wasn't my cup of tea. I love the Newsboys, but their sound seemed messed up (or else by then my ears were rebelling!). But it was fun going over and back. We sang together on the way back and enjoyed the trip. It was good to break away. And we got an almost 4 hour show for ten bucks. Tomorrow after services Maggy and I will head up to Prattville, Alabama to do a presentation. The Kilberns are already there. Prattville has been so good to us over these past few months. Just to name a few things ... they gave us a 15 passenger van, a brother in that church made the racks that our clothing is hanging on in the building, and one family gave up a camper for someone to live in (my daughter!). Richard Medlin has been our primary contact there, and he is a prince. Their preacher, Brent Missildine came and spent a few days working here, as well as numerous other members. I look forward to meeting that church tomorrow. We will spend the night courtesy of the Prattville church, and return Monday. And now for those lyrics...I thought they were very meaningful. They relate to those teenage girls who cry out for attention by cutting themselves. But they also relate to our angst to have God know that we are hurting. Then they affirm that God does indeed know about our pain. Scream Does anybody know how I feel? Sometimes I'm numb, sometimes I'm overcome Does anybody care what's going on? Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm For you to see me, I need release Do I have to scream for you to hear me? Do I have to bleed for you to see me? ‘Cause I grieve, you're not listening to me Do I need to scream? Has anybody seen what's been done? Where was my defense? No one heard my protest The eyes of God were watching me It's time to make my peace, let it go and be released So I can breathe again I'm on my knees I've been marked, set apart But I'm cut so deep and afraid of the dark One drop of blood from the hole in Your hand Is enough to heal me and make me stand ‘Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me I don't have to scream for Him to hear me Don't have to bleed for Him to see me ‘Cause I'm clean, He is listening to me I don't have to screamI don't have to bleed ‘Cause I'm clean, He is listening And I don't have to scream

Friday, February 10, 2006


I have written about some of these people in prior posts. First tonight is a picture of Daved Baker and L. T. of Hope Missions. Pray for Daved, his health problems are major, and he didn't feel good tonight. Also pray for L. T. as he drives back to Pennsylvania tomorrow. He's coming back in March, Lord willing!

Next is Bill Ford (L), Robbie Wood (C), and Hugh Gower (R). Bill has been down here many times. He is from Senatobia, Mississippi. Robbie is one of 'ours', and Hugh comes to us from Calhoun, LA. Hugh is on his second trip to Pascagoula.

Below is the Hope Missions crew that will be flying back home tomorrow. They are an awesome bunch of Christian people!

Crew from Arkansas hard at work.

Maggy sitting on her new couch. Thanks Chris Lockhart for helping us pick them out and get them loaded over to the house, and unloaded into the house!

How new houses are to be built on the Coast.

There are both happy and sad stories to tell tonight. But, I will just share these images and let that be that.

On a Personal Note: I will have a nerve ending test on my hands tomorrow. I hear that it's a painful test, so give me a little prayer! Also, thanks to Gary Kirkendall, who wrote very kind things about me on his latest blogpost. I also enjoyed a conversation with my old friend Eddie Lewis today. That was a blessing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No Pictures

Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Gulf Coast, and today looks like it's shaping up to be the same. The Hope Missions crew from Pennsylvania is doing a great job and staying very busy. L.T., their leader, is on his fourth trip down to the Coast...once to Slidell, and three times to Pascagoula. He is a true Christian gentleman, hard worker, man of prayer, and an awesome brother. Maybe I'll try to get his picture today. I haven't been carrying my camera like I should! Yesterday I visited a stately elderly lady who we have helped a good bit. She has been attending services some, but we hadn't seen her in a few weeks. Mildred has had more than her share of heartache in life. I doubt that I could recall all of the losses she has suffered in her family. A year before the storm, though, her son died. And a few weeks ago her son-in-law died. She had six siblings, and there is one left. All of her friends have passed from this life. This woman has suffered much grief in her life. That simply intensfies the natural grief we are enduring as a result of the storm. Her house is looking better, but sheetrock needs to go up. I don't have a picture of her, though. I also visited with a brother from our church that I've known for all the years I have been the minister here. Since the storm I feel like I've gotten to know him much better. His family is living in two different places, in order to care for a son with MS while he rebuilds their home. This couple does not talk much about their struggles and hardships, but they have more than most people. The first time I visited Alfred after the storm, I was speechless. He lives just three blocks from the beach. Every home around them was condemned. Their home was originally condemned, but they were able to overcome that. When I saw their home, my heart sank for them. They would have to do so much to regain their home, but they were determined. I remember hugging Alfred in that driveway ... I just didn't know what else to do. But now their home is looking great! Once they get some flooring down and a few more details, they are going to have a beautiful home again! Maybe I'll swing by and take a picture another day. But the landscape has changed. Most of the houses around theirs have been torn down and there's nothing left but a slab. You can see three blocks South to the water if you look in the right direction. FOR SALE signs are going up everywhere ... on houses that haven't been emptied since the storm ... on houses that are gutted but not repaired ... on slabs. I saw a house yesterday that had been put up on 15 foot pilings, and was being repaired up in the air. I wish I had my camera with me! Daved Baker is a disaster relief specialist from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Daved has been working with us from early on in the relief effort. David is an expert at finding resources for disaster relief. He is also gifted in filling out the paperwork to acquire some of the resources that are available from the government and other organizations. He has a great vision for establishing disaster relief for many years to come. Several crews from Sherwood are scheduled in the coming months, and there is a crew here now. I should take a picture of them. Daved was calling someone in Pennsylvania for a reason I do not currently know, and got a wrong number. It turns out that he called Jeff Steppe of the new church plant, Watermarke. Jeff lives very near and knows some of the Pennsylvania workers that are here. And he has some interest in bringing a work crew down. Seems like God just keeps making connections .... even through wrong numbers! Thank you for reading ... I hope your day is filled with opportunities to say a good word for the Lord.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Yesterday was FEMA's deadline to pay for refugees and homeless people who are living in hotel rooms across the country. 20,000 refugees in 40 states filed for extensions and have until February 13 or March 1. So far, $529 million dollars has been spent to house Katrina victims in hotels across the country. 5,000 victims did not apply for the extensions, or did not know about them. (source: story on Fox News website.) But that's a lot of people who suddenly find themselves without a home. What do you do if you work for FEMA in Jackson County, Mississippi and you have a line of people in front of you who have no where to go? You call David Kilbern down at the Church of Christ because they have been helping so many people. When I got to the building yesterday afternoon, David had been on the phone with FEMA. They were requesting that we find housing for five families. Incredible, isn't it? The Federal Government can't house these people, and they call US! A couple of these families had infants to care for -and they will be on the street without some kind of help. The temperature last night was to get down to 30. One guy had a broken back and is about to have surgery, but the hospital turned him out until his surgery. Now his hotel has turned him out. These people do not even have cars in which to sleep. I'm wondering if this is happening here in Pascagoula, what's happening across the country? And who are the FEMA folks calling in their neighborhoods? Are there David Kilbern types all over the country doing hurricane relief? Before the day was over, FEMA did find a place for these needy folks. But it was quite a scare for the refugees, and a challenge for us. FOX NEWS is also reporting that there is an airfield in Hope, Arkansas with 10,000 furnished trailers sitting on the ground. They've been there since October. I know there are logistical problems and challenges, but isn't there someone ... anyone ... in the Federal Government who can cut through some red tape and get these homes to hurricane victims who need them? We are hearing about people in Louisiana who are still living under boats and under tarps, five months after the storm. I'm no political pundit, but the frustration level grows when this is not a national news story anymore. Deadlines are set. People have no where to go for help. And empty houses sit on a lot in Arkansas (a rented lot, at the taxpayers expense). There is someone who can do something about this. I don't know who that someone is, but this needs to be addressed soon. Our President had two lines in his State of the Union address about the disaster. While we rebuild another country, a large section of our own country sits in the mud. This is just not acceptable, in my view. If not for the beautiful volunteer spirit of Americans, there is no way to estimate where we would be today. As far as I know, most of the work that has been done to get people back into their homes has been accomplished through volunteer labor, donated materials, and largely through Christian people. This is a testimony to the glory of our King! And this is just the beginning, friends. We are only addressing crisis needs and critical housing needs when we talk about campers and trailers. With the passing of the next four months hurricane season will be upon us once again. If we were to suffer a hit from even a minor hurricane, these campers are not going to be in great condition for living and we'll be starting all over again. Deadlines have been set. Even the extensions aren't for very long. But there are thousands of people facing their own personal deadlines. They are reaching the breaking point. And we must be here to serve and save. A giant "thank you" to everyone who has contributed time, materials, or money to the effort. Please do not stop praying for us. Do not stop volunteering. We cannot abandon the effort now, there is so much left to do. God will see us through.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Heard often on Blue's Clues: Mail Time, Mail Time Mail Time! Heres the mail, it never fails It makes me wanna wag my tail, And when it comes I wanna squale MAIL! (How often have you seen THAT on a hurricane blog!) The crew from Pennsylvania rested yesterday, but they revved it up a notch today. I was going to take pictures a few times today, but never did make it. Maybe tomorrow! I did want to share with you two items that came in the mail in the past few days. First let me say that I love mail. It is no secret I am an e-mail fanatic. When I was in college, I literally watched for the mailman to arrive. These days we never know what will arrive in the mail...at home or at the church. We were blessed this week with two very special items. One came from the M.I.N.I. Group - a homescooling group in Fayetteville, AR. Bill and Ann Hickey lead this group of youngsters! I received such a nice envelope packed full of cards, letters, and drawings all encouraging us to keep up the great work on the Coast. They affirmed their prayers ... and they even sponsored a walk a thon and sent almost $600! I cried all the way through the letters and am so grateful to these young people - and their teachers who are sharing such wonderful values with them. Here's a few pictures of the display I put together today with these lovely expressions of support. Also, today there arrived a box at the post office. As I said, I love mail. So I seldom leave the post office parking lot without opening all mail that appears to be personal ... and packages! This box was from the church of Christ at Imperial Beach, California. It was full of home made afghans that were absolutely beautiful. They were such vibrant colors! I was thinking of the hours and hours that went into each one ... and the hands that knitted those blankets in love. These will truly bless some soul that is chilled by the coolness of the season. These are just two examples ... sometimes other things come in the mail as well. God's great big family hasn't forgotten about us ... and they want to reach out and share the love of Jesus with us. I am awestruck by the loveliness of the people of God. Thank you, Church ... what a blessing you are to us. We continue on in our work, and we continue in our desire for your prayers. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Today started off with a mini-crisis at the Dobbs house! After my shower I couldn't turn the cold water off. I turned and turned the knob, until finally it came off and water was shooting through the bathroom like a fire hydrant. I finally got it back on enough to curb the waterspout! We all got washed up and I turned the water off at the curb. Paul and Jason England came over this afternoon and fixed our problem in about five minutes. This morning I drove the bus to one of the FEMA lots, along with JR and Robbie. However, none of those who had asked for rides to church were ready to go - except Roy and Mona Lisa. These two folks are delightful to talk to. They have a great humor and they love the Lord. Today I did not do what I planned during services. I offered a communion meditation based on the story of the ten lepers that were healed. I encouraged us all to be the one that came back to thank Jesus. Then after communion I directed our thoughts to Luke 15 and encouraged us all to be the one that comes home. I referenced Brennan Manning's term, 'ragamuffins', and how we all should be amazed that God wants to dust off the robe and shine up the ring and accept us fully as His children. And that's just what Roy and Mona Lisa wanted to experience. So this afternoon they were baptized into Jesus Christ. Mona Lisa is a niece to Mrs. Ruth. If you have been to any of my presentations, maybe you remember my story about Mrs. Ruth. Also Henry was baptized as well. And here's their picture, along with me and Maggy.

Henry is hispanic and does not speak much English. He has a great heart and is a hard worker. He is always happy. One day he mopped and swept our entire church building ... a tough job. Through a mixture of broken English and hand gestures Henry made it clear to me that he wanted to be baptized and be a member of the Central Church. Perhaps when Tammy and Ramona Matthews get here, they can sit down and have a good Bible study with Henry, since they know how to speak his language. I am going to make an effort to learn some conversational Spanish. I've been wanting to, but this gives me more motivation. I also would like to offer some English speaking classes, but I'm not sure how to get started. I've written Dennis Mitchell for some information. He teaches those classes to international students at University Church of Christ in Monroe, LA. Anyway, I believe Henry is my brother in Christ. We communicate in smiles and hugs mostly. A J Olivares is one of our hispanic teens, and he talked with Henry for a while tonight. I should have gotten a picture of that, but I didn't think about it at the time.

Tonight we had a Super Bowl party at the church building. Since we have a crew here from Pennsylvania, they had a great interest in the game. We had a great time visiting and enjoying the game together. Our new brothers and sister were with us, giving us even more time to enjoy getting to know them. Tomorrow the crew from Hope Missions will get started on a week of intensive work. I can't wait to see what they accomplish.

This morning a brother offered to pay for my radio program if I would go back on the air. I will begin making those arrangments asap!

I think tomorrow we are going to address a problem we have in the fact that our seating is too limited on Sunday mornings. A great problem to have, yes? Yes! We've never had that problem in the 14 years I've been at Central!

We continue to keep needs lists updated as well as work crew reports at our church website: www.123Jesus.com . Any of you who have the ability, we would love for that website addy to be published in church bulletins and other places where Christians might access it. Thanks for your help in getting the word out!

Hope your week and mine will be one spent with our eyes wide open to the opportunities provided by our Father.

Below: Heather has a new security job and had a humorous moment with David Kilbern this morning!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Prayers and Hope

I wasn't at the building very much today. I tried to get ahead of myself a bit for tomorrow and spent most of the day doing that. I did get by to visit the new crew that has arrived from Pennsylvania. Looks like a great week ahead! Of course they have a big interest in the Super Bowl, so tomorrow afternoon we'll have a big Super Bowl blast and enjoy some time together. Maybe I'll even take pictures! I need you to pray for two people tonight. I really feel I would be invading their lives to tell what their struggles are. God will know who they are ... but pray for the two souls ... both enslaved within their own addictions. I spent a few hours in the emergency room tonight, feeling totally helpless. The drug culture surrounds us, along with those who are caught up in the lie and cannot escape. My heart breaks for all of them. My prayers are for them to know the Father who loves them in spite of their failures, and who can heal them in spite of their weakness. Tonight David was making a delivery to a man who has not seen his family since the storm. His home is totally wiped away ... down to the slab. He has lived in a small FEMA trailer. It's about to get smaller. His wife and two children are coming "home". It will be a bittersweet reunion... happy to see one another, and a recognition that there's no where to turn around in that camper. It is just reality on the Mississippi Coast. Have a great time worshiping with the family tomorrow. I will be talking about our responsibility as messengers of hope. God is speaking to our world ... and one way is through his Family. The message? There is hope, so hang on to Jesus.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Unexpected Talents

Today I've worked some on our website (www.123Jesus.com) by updating the work crew list and some of our current needs. Check there anytime to find out what we need at the moment. I do my best to keep that current. Chris Lockhart came over today for his weekly visit. Now Chris has been a blessing to me in any number of ways, but nothing prepared me for his blessing today! We were talking about the Dobbs family need to get some furniture in the house. Chris then modestly confessed that he did all of the decorating in their home. Now Chris and Susan have a beautifully appointed home, and we were impressed! So it wasn't long before Maggy and I and Chris were walking around the furniture store. We picked out a couch and loveseat, and will get it next week. So Chris, the Interior Design Consultant, is now officially in business! This afternoon David and I did a few home visits. We visited the home of an elderly couple that were among the first to apply for help. It takes a long time sometimes. I think we will be able to help them this week. I'll tell you more about them at another time. Tonight LT is back from Hope Missions, and the rest of the crew flies in tomorrow (today ... whew it's getting late) from Pennsylvania. We're looking forward to a great and productive week! One of my dear friends, Bill Collins, has resurrected his blog in order to give his Hurricane Katrina account. Go ahead now and get caught up. Then wait with us for the next segment! I know my blogs can be a bit heavy at time, so I end tonight (this morning) with a somewhat humorous list of some of my favorite things that came through the donation machine following Katrina. These are items we found in boxes that were sent with good hearts and hopeful thoughts that someone needed them. And they did. One bottle of Lucky Tiger Hair Tonic. I don't know where it came from or why there was only one, but it sure stirred up childhood memories of sitting in the barber chair! And I was amazed that they still make it! I'm not sure who ended up with this treasure, but I'm sure they were happy to have it. Several boxes of home made soap. This is stuff you have to buy from people who make it and market it from their homes. The hallway sure did smell good for a while. I did manage to get a bar of that soap! A box of Avon stuff. My wife and daughter are former Avon ladies, so this stuff caught my attention. Especially a bottle of shampoo made by Avon that is my favorite! (Stay back Tommy!) Thanks to whatever Avon lady sent that in ... I enjoyed a bottle of that! There were cases of some blue tortilla chips that tasted awful! But we managed to give them away! Boxes full of brand new still in the wrapper underwear! woo hoo! Coffee and Chocolate. I mentioned once on my blog that these would be great items and then they came pouring in from Alabama, Nevada, and parts unknown! I did share it with others, so I'll put it in this list. And for a laff, the funniest thing I remember coming through the line was a bottle of carpet cleaner. I know it was sent with good intentions ... but I wonder who thought they could clean a carpet after it had been soaked with sea water and sewage??? There were probably other interesting materials that came through, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind as I get ready for bed ... where I should have been two hours ago! Goodnight, readers! And if you sent the carpet cleaner, we don't hold it against you. We thank you for the smile!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I started off today on my way to visit the lady who doesn't know where her son is, but she put me off until this afternoon (and this afternoon she put me off to next week). So I decided to visit one of our members, but I had a phone call, and when I got to the member's home they were not there. So I went to the church building and finally connected with Lance about his upcoming mission to the Coast. After that call, I had an audio appointment to keep. Yesterday John Alan Turner called me. I always enjoy talking to JAT, and this time was especially neat because he asked me to do an audio interview for the company he works for. This was on the subject of HOPE and will go out to about 10,000 listeners. So today at 11:00 Lanny Donanhue called to interview me. If you notice JAT's comment in the last post, he was in the studio and praying for me during the interview. I didn't know that at the time, but I'm thankful. And I'm thankful to tell our story yet again for a new audience. After lunch I picked up Daved Baker and we headed over to WOSM to be on Margaret Coopers twice weekly talkfest called "Looking Around With Margaret". Our world is full of wonderful characters that bring both smiles and wonder, and Margaret Cooper is one of those characters. Born in Germany, she still has a thick accent. She and Charles have owned and operated WOSM for 35 years. It is called "The Gospel Giant" and is the only Southern Gospel station in this area. It has a huge listening audience. I used to do "Afternoon Break" daily on the program. As soon as I can raise the money, I'm going to do that again. But anyway, we joined some other guests and were able to talk about our mission over the radio for an hour. It was a lot of fun. Daved (yes, I'm spelling his name correctly!) is an interesting character also. A missionary from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, Daved found his way to working with us in the relief effort. He brings twenty years of disaster relief work experience, a truckload of contacts, and a very detailed organizational mind to take care of any number of tasks around the building. Daved told us a few months ago that he believed that what we were doing was Biblical and he wanted to be a part of it. Central is Daved's home church for the next few years as he works to help people ... mostly behind the scenes. He has multiple health problems, but does not let them keep him from reaching out to the world. After the radio program, Daved and I headed over to my favorite new hangout, Dough-Joes Kolache and Coffee Cafe. I had a hazelnut cappacino and Daved had an iced mocha. We had a great conversation - the kind that is rare around our place due to the pace of activities. I had to go to Wal-Mart tonight, and on the way out of the parking lot I had a green light. That didn't stop the car coming from the opposite direction at about 80 mph. He would have slammed right into me, if not for my keen perception (my wife will be laughing at that!). He ran right through the next redlight as well and must have realized something, because he then nearly stopped in the highway. I passed him, but it wasn't long before he zoomed right past me again, and right into the back end of a car waiting at a red light. I don't think anyone was hurt, but I did stick around to tell the police what happened ... and to note that his friend jumped out of the truck and took off. That was my day of Mass communication and witnessing a moving mass impact a still mass. Tommy asked me a few questions ... so I'll answer here. My blood tests all came back great. My triglycerides were elevated slightly (212; 200 is normal), but everything else (sugar, cholesterol, thyroid, etc.) turned out great. My nerve ending test on the hands has been put off twice. I hear it's awful, so I don't mind. I meet with another doctor on February 9th about another issue that I'll discuss later if need be. I don't expect anything big. My kitchen is operating beautifully and we are enjoying cooking again. There are still some things that need to be done at my house, but we are able to live in it - and that's enough. And YES I would love to come to Starkville to tell our story. Thanks for asking!


I think that the spirit of Coastal Residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is ultimately a can-do, never-give-up spirit. But underneath the surface is a question mark. Will we ever make it? The people I talk to generally will admit their blessings and know that they have made progress since August 29th. But at the same time, they just wonder if there is going to be a time when they can sit down in their living rooms and relax, knowing that the whole thing is over. For some, this energizes them and makes them work with vigor. For others, this paralyzes them and causes them to be overwhelmed at the mass of unfinished repairs. A cloud of depression hangs over the hearts of many people here. Everyone deals with it in their own way. Aside from making great progress with repairs and work crews ... this is one reason why the presence of workers coming down to help is crucial to our community. It blesses us to see fresh faces that aren't burdened with the cares of today's Coast. It reinvigorates us to witness the energy of people who aren't tired and weary. It gives us a moment to stop and thank God because His Family is so big and so generous and so awesome. Thank you to those who have come to help us, who are here, and who will come. Taking a look at our work crew report, the next few weeks are going to bring a firestorm of activity to Central / Pascagoula. I can't wait. There are logistical problems to having big crowds. Overnight housing is, of course, one of those problems. We work hard to make sure everyone's got a place to lay their head! Feeding the volunteers is another challenge. (Elsie does a great job in the kitchen, but it's a big big big job. Often the kitchen duties are overlooked when volunteers come - any cook's helpers out there? Come on down!) Large groups of unskilled labor can be a challenge because these jobs ebb and flow a bit. One thing David works hard at is keeping everyone busy while they are here ... busy with important jobs. Some jobs do not seem important to volunteers, I'm sure ... but they are important in terms of helping us with small stuff that gets overlooked. Now a challenge is not a complaint! I'm not complaining a bit about these problems ... we will work them all out and have a great time ... but I'm just sharing with you a little bit of the day-to-day stuff we work with. Just a note: If you have been here and taken a set of pictures, please make sure I get a copy! I need to get on my way ... but please take a moment and read THIS NEWS STORY. The hard-hitting reality of our journey is something we deal with on a daily basis. Pray for us.