Out Here Hope Remains

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Assortment

We only had about 25 at the assembly last night for prayer and study. I spoke from 1 John 2:15-17 on Falling Out of Love With The World. Our elders meet every Wednesday night at 6. We had a good discussion about several items, and our hopes to have a church meeting soon to update the congregation on the progress with the building. We hope to begin repairing our building very soon. There will be challenges that come along with that, but they are not as big as the challenge we have faced over the past year. We look forward to a group of workers coming in this weekend from Hillsboro Church of Christ. They will be here through Monday. I'm sure David Kilbern has some good things ready for them to do. Sunday is our Friends and Family Fellowship Day, so we will all enjoy eating together following worship Sunday morning. The next crew coming in will be a Hope Missions group from Pennsylvania, arriving on the 16th. Image hosted by Webshots.com Image hosted by Webshots.com Image hosted by Webshots.com Image hosted by Webshots.com FAMILY STUFF. We have enjoyed watching our granddaughter Claire grow up in our home for eight years. Recently her mother married and she is now a part of the adventure of a new family. I'm happy for our daughter that she found a good man to marry. And even though they live less than two miles away, things sure are different around here without Claire here all the time. I had such a funny feeling in the grocery store the other day when I was reaching for some Diet Pepsi and heard, "Poppy!" Of course I knew that voice and there she was. Bumping into my granddaughter in the store was sweet and wonderful, as you might guess. But I almost cried right there in the grocery store because I had to go home without her! I'm thankful that she lives here and that we get to see her some most every day. Pray for her, and her new family as they all get adjusted to living with one another in a new home. While it isn't easy on our hearts, it is a good thing. Our son John will turn 17 in October. He is in his Junior year in High School and I expect that he'll be graduating before we can turn around. Does it sound like I have empty nest syndrome before the nest is empty? Just think, Margaret will have to live with me without the distraction of the kids. Pray for her! WHERE HOPE REMAINS. For some time now I have been cultivating a blog that reflects my interest in, and information about, crisis and disaster response. It has been located HERE. I knew when I started it that I would be time challenged to keep it up. For now I'm going to merge some of that over here on Out Here Hope Remains. At times I may update the daily posts, rather than just create a new post. If you check back you may need to refresh the page to see any changes. In each of the stories we must look beyond the struggles to see that no matter what happens, Hope Remains because God is present. Larry James Reflects On Lessons Learned About Faith As He Wages War on Poverty in Inner City Dallas. Ernesto has reemerged over the Atlantic waters near Cape Canaveral and has already wasted no time strengthening into a tropical storm. Ernesto, John, and Ioke. Dr. Jeff Masters reports in his blog from yesterday that, "The incredible Category 4 Supertyphoon Ioke continues to rumble towards tiny Wake Island in the Pacific. The entire population of the island has been evacuated to Hawaii. ... It is expected that Ioke's storm surge may completely submerge the island. Ioke has a significant wave height of 50 feet, meaning that 1/3 of the waves in the storm are higher than that. Wow!" Big Plans for Pascagoula! Severe Weather Rips Roofing Off of Grand Bay Middle School. Gulfport Carjacker Meets His Match!

Today in Pascagoula: Partly Cloudy, Hi: 91 Lo: 65

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FEMA Gives 505,000 To Rebuild Long Beach Firehouse


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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Looking Up...For Hope

Image hosted by Webshots.com by jedobber Jeff Campbell gave me a disk of pictures from the dining hall a few days ago. For some time now we have been asking groups that come in and work to design a ceiling tile to place in the ceiling of the dining hall. I now have a picture of 63 of them located in the picture album linked above (click on picture). They are a great tribute to the spirit of volunteerism and love of Jesus Christ that brought the groups down to help strangers. I want to thank Jeff for this great idea! I wish we had thought of it earlier. I have no idea how many churches have been here and no way to contact them all. As I have communicated previously, we had no idea what was about to happen to us in those first few months! Now when we walk into the dining hall, we're looking up! Margie Kieper's 13th installment of her account of Katrina's impact across the Coast is by far the most personal and the most difficult (for me) to read. The piece ends with a chilling description of ghost 911 calls from empty slabs: One of the odd things that has occured since the storm, probably due to continuing issues with bringing the phone system back online, is that the sub station regularly receives 911 calls from locations that currently are nothing but slabs, from these areas. Answering the call, there is only static on the other end. There is a list of addresses, numbering about 20 in total, hung up on the wall for the dispatcher, noting these locations. We think that possibly the last calls from these locations were 911 calls, and are somehow still electronically in the memory or database of the phone system. I wrote earlier about the three unidentified ladies who perished in Hurricane Camille. They are buried in Biloxi under the names Faith, Hope and Charity. Yesterday two men, one black and one white, who are both unidentified were laid to rest. Their names are 'Will' and 'Strength'. Will and Strength: Unknown Victims of Katrina Buried. Al Sturgeon, in his daily hurricane update today wrote, "It is strange how you still learn things so long after the fact. One of the tragic news stories I remember just after Katrina was of a gentleman wandering the streets physically and emotionally lost after the storm had ended. He told the reporter he had lost his wife in the storm; after hours of holding on, they just couldnt hold each other any longer, and he lost her to the powerful surge. Her last words to him were, 'Take care of the children'. I remember the young female reporter crying with the man, helpless. I remember watching that report and the nauseous feelingthat came with it. Until last night, I thought that story came from New Orleans. Instead, it was just next door to Ocean Springs in Biloxi. The follow-up report last night said that Hardy Jacksons wife's body has never been found." These are haunting times on the Gulf Coast. I think the combination of the anniversary of Katrina and the emergence of Ernesto were really difficult for us. We are hearing from people who are looking for hope, and finding none. One would think that after a year, we would not have people coming to the church building daily looking for help. Such is not the case. In the past few weeks we have met a man who still lives in an abandoned van, with no FEMA camper in sight. We have encountered people who are ready to end their lives. While some are back in their homes and there are monuments going up in the park, there are still 100,000 Mississippians living in campers. I talked to a lady yesterday who wistfully mentioned that she hopes to be back in her home before Christmas. That will be here much more quickly than we would like. She is still waiting on an electrician just so she can get power to her home - a home that was flooded but survived the storm. No power to her house yet ... 12 months later. People are reflecting on their losses, some who lost mates, some lost property, most lost their dignity. Many lost their jobs, and many lost their dreams for the future. The housing crisis is just now getting cranked up, and there are starting to be media reports about it. So we continue to work here ... not just rebuilding ... but listening and hugging and praying. Pray for Mike King. Mike is one of our new members, and a dependable volunteer. He is very ill, awaiting a liver transplant. Sometime in the past week Mike was bitten on the leg by a spider, likely a brown recluse. He has an open wound on his leg and was put into the hospital last night. He has a great spirit, though ... and he's always looking up. Keep him in your prayers! I'm about to go see him. Likely he will bless me more than I bless him. Don't forget to check out my other blog on Crisis Resources. I attempt to update it daily. Also, if you didn't take time the other day to read Bobby Cohoon's article about what we're doing here, please go HERE and do that today! Have a great day wherever you are.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Year One

Today marks the end of year one. The first year of our lives that Katrina became a reality, a milestone, a nightmare, and a blessing. I struggled to know the best way to mark this time. The news is full of retrospectives and information about current status. My good friend Clif suggested I interview people and make an auido blogpost for today. I liked the idea, but didn't do it. So it's almost lunch time on this day when we revisit what happened to all of us here on the Coast...and rippled across the country. My friend Al Sturgeon decided to commemorate this day by releasing his 150 page e-book called Katrina: A Spiritual Journal free of charge. I'll be happy to send you a copy via attachment if you request it by writing me HERE. It is in WORD format. Thanks, Al! I decided that I would share with you what you shared with me. In the days following Katrina, I was so blessed to have the blog readers send me so many messages of encouragement. I think it will be a blessing to see those encouragements. These were from the days when data was scarce, cell phone connections were non-existent, and we were still dazed by the nearly knock-out punch we received from nature. But you wrote ... and I will never forget the way you supported me then, and continue even now. Here's how they read: **** Tommy said... I feel for you brother, and I'll say I hope it's better than expected. Chris said... Glad you made it through. We've been praying... Raymond Fleming said... Good to see that you posted and that you and your family are ok. Sorry to hear about your home. My prayers are with you still. BR-549 said... I've been checking your blog about every hour, it seems. So, I'm glad to see that you are OK physically and so sorry to hear about what you may have lost. My prayers are with you! JD said... Thanks for your swift responses. I'm at my brother-in-laws at the moment...cannot check again until tomorrow afternoon if then. Knowing that you are all praying and wishing us well means a lot. Anyone heard from Kenny or Dee? Take care, everyone. k2 said... jd, i am praying that you will be comforted. (that sounds so bland, but what else can i say.) i, too, am not able to see my home. i am in fredericksburg, va, for business, and d1 and my daughter are at the house. they stayed with 'family' while i had to go to work. i can just about bet that our cat is smothering them right now. i will be returning on friday. God kept them safe, and you. ....i am not sure what else to say, other than, you and your family are in my prayers. Falantedios said... Praise God you're alright, JD. You WILL get through this. Prayers rise to the Father for you and yours, continued safety and comfort. Nick DJG said... JD, I have been praying continuously for you and yours. I am so glad you are OK. All that physical stuff can be replaced, but you know that. Praise God you are OK. Bobby Cohoon said... Hey John; Like you I love on a coast; I have seen devastation many times, but never on this scale or magnitude. I am praying for you brother. God be with all y'all. If anyway I can help contact me. Bobby Soren said... JD, I've been trying to call you, but I can't get through. I know you're busy. Just wanted to give a word of encouragement. Praying for all of you. Soren GerryParker said... We as a family have been praying for you and other folks we know know down in the Mobile area. We love you brother! Good to hear from you! In HIM,Gerry Keith Brenton said... Dee hasn't checked in since Sunday, but has a desktop with her; not a laptop. JD, you and yours remain in my prayers. LVM said... I join all the others in prayer for you and your family. James - Biblesays said... John,Got your e-mail. Do you know how I can contact Les? I know "it's just stuff" is supposed to be comforting, and though it is true that "stuff can be replaced" and "it could be worse" and all that, it does not take away from the fact that things like this are difficult to deal with. I do hope it turns out to be better than you anticipate, but if not, please let us know what we can do to help. I mean that. Brothers and sisters in Christ are here for each other, and we will be glad to do whatever is needed we can do. For now (and later) you are in our prayers. Hoots Musings said... JD,God has you in the palm of His mighty hand. You and yours have been prayed for and we will continue to do so. You have NO idea how relieved you are to see a post and to know you and yours are safe. Dusty said... JD,May the Lord bless you with peace and faithfulness in the moment. I'll be praying. Dusty john alan turner said... Devastating. Shocking. Horrible. And yet ... somehow ... out here hope remains. Bill Denton said... JD,Hey, if you're still in Cleveland, give me a call! Bill Denton Auntbee said... My Dear Pastor John,I am so saddened to hear of your lost. Please know that you are not alone. God is there and He will sustain and my prayers are there with you,Maggy and your family. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. When you only have God, you have enough to get you through!Love & Prayers to you and your family, Auntbee (Betty) Brian Burkett said... JD, you and everyone down there are in my prayers. I wish there was something I could physically do to help. Keep us updated, and stay strong. There are a lot of people that are going to be looking to you in the coming weeks and months. I know God will give you the strength. TCS said... JD,Glad you posted. I had heard you were in the Delta. If you come east call me. You have of course been in my thoughts and prayers. I am worried about Dee's husband Tom. I think he stayed at the paper. Seriously call or email of what we can do when we are able to get down there. I know it will be a while before they will let us in. I will gather a group to come and help. my number is six one five five five eight eight....maybe that will not get mined. I assume you know the area code. I really mean that we will come do whatever. So let me know. Jim Martin said... So glad that you are ok...What a nightmare...I have prayed for you. Jovan said... JD. I'm glad to hear you are ok. I tried calling Steve Martin in Ocean Springs. Have you heard from him? TCS said... JD, I don't know if you are checking your email... so I will post this here. I have a contact with Bread for a Hungry World who would like to get in contact with you. Karen said... Dear John...I have been so worried about you and your family. It wasn't until just a few minutes ago that I thought to check out your blog to see if you had "reported" in. How relieved and happy I was to see that you had!!! :) I am deeply saddened to hear of what you may have lost...but praise God that you are safe!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers, my friend. Sending great big, warm, comforting Canadian hugs your way. Take care and God bless!!! Love and hugs,Karen :) Olivia Christine said... John,I was so sad to hear your news, but glad that you and your family are safe. Dad was trying to get in touch with you, I hope he was able to. You have his email at crossties, right? If not I'll send it to you. We've been praying so hard out here for all of you. I am so sorry. I can not imagine how hard it is to lose your home like this. I just don't know what else to say. We love you, man. We'll kep on praying. DJG said... I didn't think about you not being able to access your e-mail...If you cannot just know that I am with Tommy, I really want to help. You know how to contact me. Still covering you with prayers.Donna 3:25 PM Jason Retherford said... JD, Know you are in our prayers. Tommy said... Good to hear from you again JD. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers over the days to come. Any way I can help please let me know. Hoots Musings said... Ditto what Tommy said.I am awestruck at the devastation in Mississippi and how so many of the refugees thank Jesus Christ for sparing their lives. Please let me know if you need anything... we are praying for you and your family and your church family. TCS said... JD,I am at home now and don't have the name of the guy from Richland Hills who wanted to get in touch with you. They are looking for contacts locally in order to help with food distribution. I understand that the gas shortage here is due to panic, but non the less there is NO gas here tonight. I spoke tonight after bible study to a old college friend who is an engineer in Picayune. He has civil defense clearance but was afraid to go back due to being advised by another fellow college friend who works for MDOT that Hattiesburg and south are suffering from desperate people, looting, robbing anyone with gas, water, etc. So even if he could carry enough gas to get back he might loose it. So be careful. It looks like they are calling in more guard troops. We are expecting swarms of refuges here. I don't know about from all locations but for anyone interested, the red cross is taking teams from here on a 4 day committment. You are gone 4 days and then brought back. I will know more tommorrow. Hang in there John! Oh and cellular south said they expect to have some signal in each county on the coast by tommorrow. So IF people's cell phones are arround and charged then you can try to contact them. They recommend text messaging. trophydave said... John, This is trophy man in Oxpatch. You are in my prayers. My partner and his family were in Long Beach. Have not heard from them. Very scarey. Please know you are in my prayers. Dave dwhitetn said... Dobber, this is David White, formerly of Orange Grove. Have anyone that you can reach to contact Disaster Relief at 615-833-0888. Our prayers are with all who have felt the effects of this storm. Danny Sims said... JD... Shoot me an e-mail at dannySims@altamesa.org if you can or call me at my church at 817-294-1260... We're praying for you. BR-549 said... You continue to bless me with your faith and perseverance! Olivia Christine said... Thanks for your update JD. Just know that there are a ton of people out here in California and around the world that are praying for YOU by name. Please let me know what people are needing, our church womens group wants to send care boxes. We love you. Dee O'Neil Andrews said... Dearest John - I just now for the first time (it's Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.) have had time to come read your blog to get updated with you and your family. I have been all OVER the country since Saturday evening and have ended up here out in hot, dry, blessed (!) Abilene with my mom. Probably for the duration, which may be two or three months or longer - who knows????? NO ONE can make plans or know WHAT to do beyond one day at a time. I am keeping everyone informed about Picayune and Mandeville and the church with all information I get in on my blog, "Finding Direction, as you know. I am beginning to be in contact with a lot of people and groups who are coming to the disaster areas of Mississippi to help. However, as you all know, the situation is dire and seemingly beyond hope for so many thousands of people across Mississippi and Louisiana. Yet, we must keep our hope and remain calm. I understand completely how you feel in not knowing what to do or how to act next or where to go or what. I feel exactly the same way. But I am being uplifted by all of the many prayers I know have been sent to our Father on our behalf and rest assured that all of our blessed brothers and sisters in Christ in other places will do everything in their power to help us all out any way they can. I personally send all of my love to you and your family and have kept you continually in my prayers as I have endured the past five days, wondering where you were and how you were. I'm glad to have word you are safe. May God show mercy on all who are so terribly suffering and dying. Jon Mark said... John,What can be said?! We are praying. We've got 160 people living in our church building classrooms and are continuing to take in more...so if anyone you know needs any extra help, let us know. I've been in contact with the Kosciusko church and they are trying to be a 'financial distribution point' for anyone looking to donate money for the hurting church members on the coast. We are blessed enough in the Desoto County area to have a Superintendant who is a Christian and is allowing all of the children displaced by this tragedy to enter the school system without shot records or proof of residency. If we can bless you, John, or anyone you know, come our way. Jon Mark SmithWorship & Involvment MinisterGoodman Oaks Church Southaven, MS Allen Coker said... John, it was good to hear from you today. I wanted to call but was afraid that you were getting a lot of calls from a lot of places. I love you and your family. I want to help in any way that I can. Our prayers are with you. dwhitetn said... Jon Mark and John Dobbs, have the evacuees come to Nashville that can make it. We will find a place for them to stay. The Mayor has pledged to help in whatever ways possible. Les Jr. has my phone number. LC said... We are with the Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team out of Somerset, Ohio. We've been wondering how to get ahold of you. We are currently at the Creekwood COC helping them set up a relief effort. We are wanting to help you in any way we can. Some of the things we do are: help and guide local congregations in setting up a relief effort, bring in volunteers. (we have many volunteers who have signed up all across the US), we bring in tool trailers loaded with generators, chain saws, shovels, etc. We would be glad to send volunteers your way. Our email is disasterrelief@hotmail.com website: www.churchesofchristdrt.orgYou are in our prayers Russ Sharp said... Hello there again, Brother!Thank you for taking the time to reply to my E-mail earlier. My wife didn't realize that one of the very areas that was hit the worst was where I actually was in March of last year. Having witnessed firsthand how intertwined the congregations are in the Mississippi Gulf coast area--and how quickly you draw in someone who is only a visitor, as if I were a permanent resident, it just breaks my heart even more to learn of the widespread disaster, and the effects felt in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Ocean Springs area. All of your congregations are in my thoughts and prayers. This weekend, I plan--along with my wife--to explain to our 6-year-old daughter about what's going on there, so that we can begin to pray as a family for you. It's amazing what comes out of a child's mouth when she hears how much people are hurting...and to know that her daddy was among you and brothers you are acquainted with during that time I was away from her and her mommy last year. If I EVER forget to mention you in our bedtime prayers, I am confident that she will interrupt to remind me.Please remember that I will be praying for your strength as you go through times when you feel as if you don't have time to go through your own grief, because of being there for your brothers and sisters.I hope to connect with members of the Rodenberg congregation during all that will be happening. If you communicate with Brother Roger Mills, please tell him to pass on our best wishes in this trying time.God bless you, Brother!As Paul said to the brethren in Philippi--"I CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength. Neverthless, you have done well that you shared with me in my distress..." He experienced firsthand the fact that Christ is not the only thing God sent to us--he sent us each other!Take care, Brother! Your Oklahoma brothers and sisters are with you in spirit! yayaJill said... My heart cries for all who are in need at this time, Thank You Lord for this servant and His family May You Lord Keep Pastor, and his Church family in You'r Loving arms.As you know Brother John, my Husband is a Trucker, and some of the Drivers are offering place to stay in Miss.. I am just now learning of this. When I find out more I will be sure to pass this on to You.Your sister in Christ Jill DJG said... Thank you John for giving us specific ways to help you and yours specifically! Please do post the pictures and keep us updated. Hoots Musings said... JD,Please continue to let us know what we can do to help. You are loved dear brother! BR-549 said... I'll be praying for you -- or I should say, I'll keep praying for you -- as you go back "home." May God be bless you and your work. I know your presence -- not to mention the physical goods you're bringing along -- will bless many people. Thurman8er said... JD, those of us way out here on the west coast hardly know what to do or say to help. Of COURSE you and your church are in our prayers. Thank you for keeping us informed. evonne6kid said... I am from Tn and am looking for a church that needs our help with immediate needs, food, water, etc. Please email me if there is a known church in crisis. Dawn said... Brother, our hearts and prayers go out to you and the rest of our hurting church family right now. I am the preacher for the Northside church of Christ in Butler, AL, about 3 hours NW from Biloxi. We would love to help a family in need by accepting them into our home until they can get back on their feet. Please, e-mail us if there is any way we can do this.mamadp@cheerful.comGod bless,James and Dawn Pasley TCS said... JD,Just now had a chance to check in on you. I know tommorrow will be tough. That is a hugh understatement. We are praying for you and everyone displaced by this. We are headed that way soon not sure where yet. But so glad that you will be there for others. Falantedios said... Dear John,Thank God for positive news. Carly and I are praying for you, as is the congregation at Myrtle Avenue. One of the other blog comments asked for information about affected churches. Here are a few that I have gathered so far. Ocean Springs Church of Christ 1116 Washington Ave. Ocean Springs, MS 39564 Slidell church of Christ994 Old Spanish TrailP.O. Box 130Slidell, LA 70459(985) 643-4826 church(985) 641-6383 fax Chalmette (New Orleans) church of Christ Assistance being routed through:Cordova church of Christ7801 Macon RoadCordova, TN 38018(901) 754-9893 (Office)(901) 751-2117 (My home number)Website: www.cordovacoc.orgemail: office@cordovacoc.org Pam Dobbs said... We've been praying for you all day knowing how difficult today would be. I am sure you are exhausted and overwhelmed. In the midst of all this, God is good. May we share God with others as we go through this ordeal. Let me know if you hear any news about Charlene and the kids. I am worried sick. My love to you and yours, Pam Dobbs k2 said... jd, give me a call if i can help. you got my number. i mean that! k2 BR-549 said... Met your good friend Paul Franks in Baton Rouge yesterday. He spoke highly of you, which of course did not surprise me. (I posted a picture of Paul on my blog.) TL said... I've thought of you often. I'm very glad to have my bed. I know that God will get all of you through this and I'm hoping it will go quickly and as painlessly as possible! k2 said... OH!!! i wish i knew you were coming! i would've liked to see you and maybe even come to life group with you! i wanted to come with cl and the rest of our church group, but my boss had other plans for me that day. i still want to come and help. sorry, but my family is not in a place to help financially right now, maybe in the near future. i'm prayin' for ya'!!! Cecelia said... I still pray for you and yours daily, John. I love you guys so much my heart hurts. Just know, you know where we are should the need arise. Your sister in Christ.... Dee O'Neil Andrews said... John I have been thinking about you and your family SO much because Tom and I have flooded twice (in 1995 and 2001) and had to do all you're doing (nearly) in your home and move out the first time for three months and the second time a month. It was extremely difficult for us and especially with me being diabetic and having so many medical needs. But, both times we were just one of a few neighborhoods, at most, who suffered the losses, so were able to get all the help we needed from church friends at first and then a home builder out of Picayune to come down with his crews and complete all repairs in an effecient and timely manner. This time, as with you, it will all be a completely different story for everyone involved. I am still out in Abilene at the moment with my mom, but we were extremely blessed this time in that our home did not flood and only received minor water damage from overflowing commodes and AC drain pipe in one bedroom, where Tom was finally able to rip out the carpet today for the first time in the past two weeks. He called me this afternoon to tell me of the even more wonderful blessing that our power is now back on to our house in Slidell, so I can COME HOME!!!! He was bringing all of his stuff down from his office in Picayune, where he has lived since the hurricane, and bringing a "house guest," a young reporter from Oklahoma helping him out for a while, to live with us for a while and he was very happy to be doing so. I am planning on getting a lot of odds and ends done and together tomorrow (like some Rx's I need, etc), my stuff all packed in the car and my mind together so I can get up very early Tuesday morning to start the long 10-11 hour trip home from Abilene back to Slidell. I want to ask you (when you see this) and all your readers to pray for me as I do all these things and head out on the road because I am not well, as you know, and it is going to be a very long, grueling trip at best. Please pray that I will feel well, can travel well and safely and arrive home safely where Tom is waiting (impatiently, I might add) for me to get back. It has been a very hard two weeks and will be a hard drive home, but I'm just thankful, as you, for all the blessings we have experienced thus far and hope that we can share a generous portion and measure with so many around us less fortunate than we. I just wrote down your cell phone number and will call you really soon to see if we can be of help. Tammany Oaks in Mandeville is engaged as a staging area for everyone else and has undertaken a huge effort to warehouse supplies and to "house" workers in our building to help others. So, if y'all need anything more in Pascagoula, let me know and I will get word to them. Much love to you and your family and may God continue to give you peace and rest as you toil so hard to restore all you've lost. DJG said... Still in my prayers. I am glad you have a place to go to get away from it all... I hope you feel all the love and prayers being sent your way. LVM said... Often I gripe and groan over absolutely insignificate little problems that are just normal and that all of us face daily. What you and others in the path of Katrina are enduring at the present time certainly gives me a different perspective of what real problems are, and how ridiculous it is to worry over small stuff. Like you mentioned; most of us take for granted that our lives are safe and we have a pillow to lay our weary heads on at night. While I'm ever thankful to God for His care and abundant gifts on a daily basis, I too often forget it's possible to wake up to total chaos and confusion. God bless you in these difficult times. Armaedes said... I think it's great that you are keeping up with the things that are important to you even in all of this badness, like continuing church services and this blog. That's very inspirational. Amanda said... Hey, JD. I got word yesterday that Otter Creek is going to start sending some groups down to southern MS. Are they working with your church? I'm so bummed I can't go--classes are in full swing and I can't afford to miss any. I do send prayers your way. Raeann said... JD,I just stumbled across your blog as I was looking for further information to share with my home church. I just returned from Ocean Springs last night. I was blessed to be a part of filling grocery / supply orders at the Chruch of Christ there. I came home with the same feeling, the supplys are much needed but the manpower is in desperate need. I am on a mission to motivate our church and hope to return to continue to provide support for those in need. I will add your blog to my daily read and your family and church to my prayers. Miss Angela said... John and family,My heart goes out to you all, I know you are tired...every day is filled with more cleaning, it seems it will never end. I do appreciate you taking the time to blog, as those of us who know you and know the area are most concerned for all who were affected by Katrina.I have sent money to Gateway for Central, and sent an email to everyone I know asking them to help in the same way. When I was younger, my house flooded, not once but twice. A large section of Tulsa was affected, but of course, nothing of this magnitude. I'll never forget total strangers showing up at our door to help, volunteers bringing food and water and medicine. They are answered prayers. I'm sorry I can't be there to help you, the USAF has other plans for me at present. I'm certainly with you in prayer and spirit. My parents are in Slidell, LA helping with the church there. I told them to come on down to Pascagoula and help YOU.Much love, Angela BR-549 said... I will thank God for the blessings we take for granted! Thanks for reminding me. John, if phone service is working well again, would there be a good time when I could call you Wednesday? I would like to interview you if possible before the Chronicle's October issue goes to press this week. Please e-mail me at bobby.ross@christianchronicle.org if you are up for an interview. Thanks, Bobby Well Woman said... Thanks for the reminder to never take for granted the many blessings we have from hot water to a roof over our heads to a place to call home. Praying for all of you,Layla Danny Sims said... We're praying here. I hope to come see you and help soon. DJG said... John, I tried to call you but I guess the service is sporadic. I will be back in office on Monday. Take care till then. Donna ***** Thanks again, my friends. Every word is precious to my heart. john

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Community Thanks

We had a good number at worship this morning as we focused on the blessings that were ours because of Katrina. The grieving and mourning will have their fair of time, but so should the blessings. I'll post the audio of that message Monday sometime on my podcast page. Tonight many of us went to the Community Worship Service at the high school football stadium. People from several different churches in town participated. Although it was quite different than what we are used to, we appreciated the opportunity to offer thanksgivings to God along with our neighbors and friends. I left a little bit early because I had an elderly friend with me and he needed to get back to his camper. The speaker tonight did more than suggest that God sent Hurricane Katrina as a discipline for his people. I think this is an open question...not something we can afford to be dogmatic about. In the Scriptures, God has brought about disaster upon people. I know and affirm that He can. I am just not certain how anyone can be SURE that this is what Katrina was. It seems to me that if we start assigning disasters to God, then we must look at each disaster and ultimately claim that they are all "acts of God". God then becomes the God of Disaster, which I do not believe is true. I tend to believe that we live in an eco-system that produces hurricanes during the same season each year. I think that in each case, there are people who realize their own weakness and need for the Lord when recovering from these disasters. It could be that God did send Katrina. But I think the lessons learned either way are the same ... and that we can avoid making God out to be the king of disasters by just recognizing His sovereignty within the system he created. But no one asked me. As a smile for tonight, one of our city officials referenced a teaching of Jesus in the Bible by saying, "we all know that old story that ends with 'where two or more are gathered, God is there'." Now either he did not want to mention the Bible out of some form of political correctness, or he just didn't say it like he planned. Either way, I got a grin out of it. No harm done. It reminded me of Al Gore misquoting that Bible verse, and the one he actually quoted seemed a prophecy against him. But I do not want to get into politics. Those things are much better discussed over at Desperate Houseflies, a multi-contributor blog created by my friend who is not ashamed to be a Democrat. There are a lot of things in the world I do not understand. But lest anyone in Pascagoula thinks I'm being negative about the event, I'm glad we had it. I'm glad several of us went. If I had one suggestion to make, I think it was too white. Other than a choir from the Missionary Baptist Church, there wasn't enough color in this event. I would have loved to hear a word from some of the African American, Hispanic, and Asian believers in this area. Overall, I enjoyed it. My favorite moment was the singing of "Blessed Be The Name" by the Church on the Rock Praise Team. I would love to have had one of our wonderful acappella groups in the mix. I think it would had added a lot to the night. My thanks to those in charge. They worked hard and it was a joy to spend the evening with neighbors and friends. I'll post my pictures soon and leave a link here. Before I go, please do me a favor and head over to Bobby Cohoon's blog for today. It can be seen HERE. Bobby went back into the archives of this blog to assemble a beautiful piece that had me in tears. Thank you, Bobby. My mother is going to love it - and if she knew how to leave a comment, I'm sure she would. Thanks for reading and I hope your week is a great one. We will be keeping our eyes on the Gulf. No one can afford to take the current direction of this storm for granted at this point.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Just Me and the Lord

Image hosted by Webshots.com by jedobber Recently I visited with one of our new friends who attends Central frequently, Miss Nellie. At worship, Nellie is quiet and friendly with a big smile. I didn't know quite what to expect when we visited with her in her home - and I certainly did not know the blessing she would be to us. What a joyful woman she is! I talked to her about her experience with Katrina. The flooding in her neighborhood, north of Hwy 90 in Pascagoula, was minimal. She said that water kept coming in under the front door and she just swept it back out. Only that room suffered damage and some furniture had to be replaced. We sat on a couch and chair that was provided by the Central Church of Christ. Nellie said, "It was just me and the Lord here...and we swept that water back," and then she let loose with a giant laugh and hands clapping with joy. This grandmother faced a giant by herself and lived to laugh about it. A tree did fall in front of her door and she was unable to escape without being let out, but that all turned out well. Nellie also told us that alcohol killed her husband almost 20 years ago, and she figured that she was next. So, she laid all of her sinful ways aside and gave her life to the Lord. The old van she has been driving has finally died on her. Nellie has been ill recently, so I hope she's feeling well enough to be our guest tomorrow at services. *** Thanks for your comments (both on and off of the blog) yesterday. I hesitated a bit on that one, wanting to be sure that everyone knew that I did not suffer a sour disposition because of the troubles we have faced. I hope that was communicated. *** Remember! We are bombarded now with remembrances of Katrina. Specials on all of the major networks are sure to be available via DVD in a few weeks, for a price. New photo books showing current progress are sure to hit the market. Sunday night there will be an interdenominational service at the War Memorial Stadium with all of the churches in town. The stadium will be filled with grateful people who are bound together by one common bond: Katrina. I'm sure there will be many thanksgivings offered for the volunteers who have helped us, the God who has blessed us, and the spirit of our community that wants to help each other rebound. As for Central, this Sunday I intend to celebrate. God has turned our mourning into dancing. Joy was to be found in the morning, and we now know that God has been working through the tragedy to redeem lost men and women and bring them unto himself. Yes, there are plenty of things to feel down about ... lots of work yet to be done ... but it is never too early to say THANK YOU, GOD! When the ocean swallowed our city, God was immovable. *** About the landfall of Ernesto - the irony is not lost on anyone on the Coast. August 29, the infamous day of Katrina's landfall now may be revisited in a traumatic way for some Gulf Coast Community. Prayers and preparation need to be made at this time. Water, food that doesn't have to be cooked, flashlights and batteries, blankets, and other supplies can be gathered now and taken to the storm landfall site. Right now Ernesto is simply too far out to know where he will go. The computer models have him going anywhere from Southwest Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. But time will remedy that. Anywhere in the Katrina/Rita zone will be twice the disaster it normally would have been. Thousands of campers will likely be destroyed - the temporary homes of those stranded without homes from a year ago. Even this week we found out about a man who still lives in an abandoned VAN. No FEMA camper yet. Emotionally, it's tough. Phyically, it's devastating. The next three days are going to present a significant challenge for someone. *** On a personal note, our son John Robert, has been diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He was bitten by a tick when on a rafting trip in Tennessee a month ago. Thankfully, the antibiotics are working already and the spotting is disappearing. Gary and Pam Dobbs are my brother and his wife in Bay City, Texas. Their son, Garrett, had a hernia operation yesterday. All went well, and we are thankful. He is four years old. Since our daughter married and moved into her home with her husband, along with Claire, we have missed having our grandaughter around. The Hollands (Nicole and Robert) left this weekend to retrieve some furniture from Atlanta, so we get to be real grandparents this weekend. That has been fun. We took Claire to see MONSTER HOUSE... a cute movie even I enjoyed (and I am a movie snob!). *** I'm ready to start scheduling another road trip for "thank you" and "update" type message, along with slides. It will be toward the end of September, early October timeframe. If you would like for me to visit your congregation, I will have a limited amount of slots open ... contact me at my e-mail address HERE and let me know...I'll see what we can work out. *** I hope you have a great Lord's Day. I look forward to sharing more of our story in Pascagoula with you, as we approach the anniversary of Katrina...and beyond. Thanks for reading.

Coming Soon To A Gulf Coast Location

Ernesto is gaining in strength and is forecast to become a hurricane about the time it enters the Gulf of Mexico. A report from Gulfport this morning is that the water has disappeared from the K-Mart shelves. People are preparing...but will panic set in?
More later....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Dangers Within Disasters

I look back upon the past year and reflect upon the adventure that has been ours to pursue. We have made more friends than most people make in a lifetime. We know people in over 25 states and a few foreign countries. We have seen the look in a person's eye when you give them something with no strings attached. We have watched the tears of joy, frustration, grief, anguish, and Spirit. Volumes will be written about this experience, and we will tell these stories when we are old men and women to anyone who will listen. Only after the regeneration of all things will we know if Katrina was the evil result of a cataclysmic spiritual war, a punishment from a righteously angry God, or simply the result of nature's currents.One thing that we will remember is that there were dangers within the disaster. Beyond the winds and the waves, there were dangers of epic proportion as they related to individual lives. They were disasters of human making that did not have to exist, but caused additional pain and suffering. 1. The Federal Government Moved Too Slowly. I don't know where the communication breakdown really was. I do not know who is truly responsible. I just know that for weeks on end people lived in tents and had very little with which to survive. I know that some people had two and three FEMA campers in their yard, while elderly people slept on their porches or under tarps for months. I remember Debbie that we visited many times, bringing supplies to her and her twelve year old daughter. She resorted to flagging down the trucks hauling the campers, hoping they were looking for her. I remember a ninety year old grandmother sleeping on the floor with only a sheet between her and the mold infested wood. I talked with a lady who had a camper in her yard for three weeks, but no keys to get inside. There was an elderly lady near our church building who had to have a handicap ramp to get into her home. In her 90s, she was unable to use the camper that was placed there for her. These are not uncommon stories, but they tell the story of the disaster of the bloated behemoth that could not move quickly enough to save its own. 2. The Dishonest Contractors / Workers Took Advantage of Victims. Like vultures descending upon a carcass, greedy 'contractors' and day workers descended upon the Gulf Coast. Promises were made about what kind of work could be done and how quickly it could be done. Still dazed by the storm and impatient to get back into their homes, many elderly people ignored the warnings and paid for work before it was done. Thousands of dollars were paid to unknown and unscrupulous thieves who worked a half day, left for supplies, and never returned. Just this week a man was arrested in Mobile for putting up hurricane shutters...with velcro. Bids were made for jobs, huge amounts of money were requested to do mundane things. The cost to have work done increased significantly on August 29th, another punch in the stomach after losing our homes. Hispanic workers who came to work, but who spoke very little English, were worked hard and paid nothing. Even this week a church was exposed on the Coast for hiring Hispanic workers and shorting them their pay. Lies were told by amateurs, suggesting they were professionals. One lady paid someone to hang sheetrock in her home, and later discovered that the sheetrock was falling off of the wall it was so poorly installed. As most people have no idea how to rebuild their homes, they were at the mercy of others. And some of those others took advantage in sickening ways. 3. "Experts" and Relief Organizations Made Their Way To the Coast. They sought to tell everyone how they ought to be organized and what methodology to use in serving the community. Perhaps they had been in other disasters in other places. Maybe they had specific training, and they knew that we were doing things the wrong way. Many of these 'experts' embedded themselves within existing organizations and took on an air of authority. The trouble is that they made the ordinary giving of service into a bureaucratic nightmare. Many of them sought funding for their advice and 'work'. Organizations were formed and had meeting after meeting after meeting, while many Christians were in the streets distributing supplies and on the phone calling for more. Some who came and presented themselves as 'friends' actually worked against us in significant ways. Why? I cannot even begin to know that answer. Misinformation was spread. I know of situations where Christians who were at a distance became discouraged about relief efforts on the coast because of the intentional spread of misinformation. Christians told lies about other Christians, hoping to accrue financial support and exalt themselves. Some Christians told half-truths about what they were doing and how much they were doing, so that supporters across the nation would keep the dollars flowing. In a crisis situation, it's hard to tell what's actually going on - even while you're here. The chaos is an excellent cover for sinful motives. 4. Post Traumatic Stress Robbed People of Their Marriages, Friendships, Jobs, and Life. Marriages began to suffer as everyone dealt with this disaster in their own way. The suicide rate in Jackson County went up 200%. Things we were able to cope with before the storm suddenly became huge obstacles to us. Hospitals filled up with heart attacks and strokes, and other stress-related diseases. The police were kept busy with domestic disputes and an out of control homeless population.Church members grumbled against one another, making accusations and complaining about mundane things. Some quit church altogether. Long lines and short supplies at stores gave us a huge level of frustration. Businesses tried to open, but they couldn't hire enough workers to make it work. Parents had hard times keeping their children encouraged, and teenagers suffered depression along with everyone else. The use of illegal drugs and abuse of alcohol became the choices of escape for many who were hurting, which only brought more hurt. 5. The Post-Katrina influx of 'permanent' volunteers. People came to the Coast with bright visions of making a fortune doing day work. They arrived at our church building with no tools, no transportation, no identification ... just people who wanted to work ... and be paid. Of course we do not pay - this is a volunteer effort. They had no where to stay and no food to eat. Sometimes we 'adopted' them and tried to help them get back on their feet. Sometimes they didn't want to get on their feet, but would rather just make it through one more day. Often they were involved in drugs or alcohol abuse. No doubt many of them had criminal backgrounds. They were unable to get real jobs due to background checks and drug screens. I see people walking the streets here every day that once worked with us a short time - until their situation became obvious. I also see people who came in with big problems in life, but we were able to help because they were open to the help. My advice when someone came to the church and had no tools, no transportation, no job? Go home. We have a lot to do here, and taking care of those who come without the ability to survive is not on the list. Maybe that sounds cold. 6. Service with Strings Attached was another danger in the disaster. We had all kinds of people coming in to help us, from every faith family ... and some of no faith. Through it all Central maintained her identity, but some questioned that. At least one group of volunteers went home because a brother from the Christian Church spoke one night in a devotional. We also had churches that decided to back off from helping us because we had a variety of denominations coming in to help and work with us. The joy of having all of these various groups here is that they were able to see who the church of Christ really is ... and perhaps outgrow some of the stereotypes we have earned. The tragedy is that the way some of the churches of Christ from other places behaved about the matter only served to further those stereotypes. When is it ever wrong to work together to serve and help someone who is hurting? These disasters were largely alleviated by the volunteers who just kept coming to work. We didn't have much time to think about these things because there was always something to do, though they were hurtful. And God will set all things aright in the last day. This post is simply to illustrate some of the struggles we had over the past year. There is a positive side, though! The Federal Government did place thousands of campers in Mississippi and many people still live in them - for which they are grateful. There were honest contractors and workers who came and truly blessed our communities. There were organizations who truly stood by us every step of the way. There were those who learned to thrive in a very stressful post-Katrina world. Some of the 'permanent' volunteers are now people that we love dearly as brothers. And there were many more churches of Christ that served with us, than those who withdrew their help. I'm not sure how to avoid these things in another disaster, but it might help to be aware of them if we face future disasters. I have not offered solutions in this post, but simply observations.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Late Nite Tuesday

Image hosted by Webshots.com by jedobber It is so important that young people are impressed with the message of serving the helpless and poor. This has been ... not a spark, but a wildfire this summer on the Coast. Hundreds of young people have come to give of their time and energy for the sake of others. I told you a few posts back about Janelle and Emily from State Center, Iowa. Soon after Katrina hit, they went to New Orleans to help out with the Red Cross. There, they met Alice and her daughter, Christina, from California. Last week Janelle and Emily were here helping out, and decided to call Alice and tell her about the work. Alice and Christina came from California and took up where Janelle and Emily left off when they went home. Today Alice and Christina went home, but promised to come back around Thanksgiving. These wise women are teaching their daughters lifelong lessons they will never forget. Any of you parents of teenagers out there want to plant the seeds of service in their hearts? We have work you can do side by side. It is a great experience. Alice and Christina's picture is the one above. I think if you click on it, you will get a nice big picture. I'm trying something new with the pictures. Blogger is sometimes stubborn about importing pictures...this Webshots function makes it pretty easy. Larry has lived on the Coast for a while, but his "luck" hasn't been all that good. After the storm he found himself in a FEMA camper park where he reported there was rampant gunshots, drugs, prostitution, and theft. Three days after he moved there, he came home to find everything gone from his camper. Sometime after that his car was stolen, leaving him without transportation. Someone (the police?) took Larry's car to a stockyard where it was impounded at $37 a day (including Saturday and Sunday when they are closed!). Larry now owes over a thousand dollars and is not even allowed to retrieve his keys off of his keyring, some clothes out of the back, or any possessions. He owes more on it than the car is worth. To me, this is just another form of injustice - a situation where one has no recourse. Today Larry got on a bus and went back to his home town. I prayed with him this afternoon in my office ... but the words are hard to come by. DANGERS within DISASTERS is an upcoming post on the blog! Watch for it! Remember to check out the Crisis Headlines blog. Feel free to post any thoughts or engage in any conversation about the news there. Thanks for reading today. I hope your week is going well. Below: David and Elaine in a RARE moment of rest and relaxation. Image hosted by Webshots.com by jedobber

Monday, August 21, 2006

By The Numbers

From the FEMA News Release Website: Hurricane Katrina's One-Year Anniversary From Disaster Toward Recovery 3 Hurricane Katrina was the third strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States . Hurricane Wilma was the strongest and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 was second strongest. 12 At the peak of the disaster, 12 mobile DRCs were operating. 32 Currently, 32 families are living in hotels/motels. 59 At the beginning of the disaster, there were 59 f ixed DRCs. 150 Currently, 150 housing inspectors are in the field to assess damage to homes. 12,400 U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than 12,400 disaster assistance loans to businesses and non-profit organizations. 72,360 SBA has approved 72,360 loans to renters and homeowners. 418,000 More than 418,000 Louisianians currently hold National Flood Insurance policies. 950,000 DRC staff has provided, in-person, assistance to more than 950,000 households. 1 million More than 1 million inspections have been completed to date. $1.3 billion SBA has approved a total of $1.3 billion in loans to business owners. 1.4 million More than 1.4 million applicants have registered for housing and other needs assistance. 45.6 million The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with private contractors working for some Louisiana parishes, have removed more than 45.6 million cubic yards of debris under a FEMA-funded mission assignment. $725 million FEMA approved $725 million in Community Disaster Loans to help keep essential services operating in communities hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. $4.7 billion More than $4.7 billion in SBA loans has been approved for renters and homeowners. $5.1 billion More than $5.1 billion have been provided to applicants in housing assistance and other needs assistance. $13.2 billion More than $13.2 billion has been paid under NFIP to policyholders in Louisiana . FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Weekend Notes

This weekend was a good one for our family. We had several people in for Robert and Nicole's wedding. Maggy's mom and dad and sister came from the Delta. Her brother and his wife came from South Mississippi. My mom and dad came over as well. We had a housefull, and enjoyed every minute of it. The wedding went well, there was very little to complicate it. It was nice to meet Robert's family also. Pictures can be found HERE. I thought we had a good crowd this morning and I was thankful for the kind comments about my lesson. Lord willing, I'll post it on my podcast page tomorrow. Margaret prepared a giant feast for us for lunch including Roast, rice, gravy, baby lima beans, carrots, english peas, corn, bread, key lime pie and cake. We were happy to have the Conerlys join us for lunch. Tonight we had a fellowship at the Boswell's home - including more food. I think I should fast for a week. I'll see how long that resolve lasts. We enjoyed lots of visiting, with about 30 present for the night. We had a devotional and afterwards Gary Boswell and I played guitar for any who could endure my singing. His guitar skills are way off the charts. I'll upload pics on the picture page tomorrow. I did manage to get a two hour nap today, so all in all it was a great weekend. It looks like a quiet week ahead in the hurricane relief department. David Kilbern is finally going to find some time to go fishing for a few days toward the end of the week. He certainly deserves it. Let's just keep on praying that the tropics remain as quiet as they have to this point. Of course I'll keep you posted as time goes by! Thanks for reading. Hope your weekend was a good one as well. Don't forget to stop by Christian Crisis Resources blog. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, August 18, 2006

Heading Into the Weekend

Things are moving right along at Central with the hurricane relief effort. I always hesitate to mention people by name because I know I'll leave someone out. But I did notice Jean Holliman serving at the front desk at the church building yesterday. She and Frances Sublett have been doing a lot of visiting, and I believe Carolyn Neal has also done some visiting with them as well. It is an inspiration to see these older sisters caring for and loving others. I also noticed that Alfred Hill has been working on someone's house for a while and is wanting another one to work in. As our members' homes have been repaired, it is great to see them reaching out to others who need our help. We have been very blessed by our new friend Sherry Betts, who has been working the front desk for the past few weeks. She has also attended Central's worship assembly a few times. Also Mike King has been working very diligently in the effort, even though he has significant health problems. And I haven't even started lauding the hard work of Stella Prince, Elaine Kilbern, Kathy Garrison, Debbie Seab, Mrs. Simmons, and others in the kitchen each day! They all deserve trophies (but would probably rather have a few days at a spa to receive massages and be treated with great care! And they deserve it!). We also have workers here from Huntsville, Alabama. I really haven't had a chance to meet them. Janelle and Emily from Iowa are working hard this week, as is Keith from Wisconnsin. They have been tearing out sheetrock and pulling nails from the studs in a home this week. I know they also delivered some sheetrock as well. Even a small team can get a lot done. On a personal note, our daughter Nicole Willingham will marry Robert Holland tomorrow afternoon in a small family ceremony. We will have lots of houseguests from our families, and we look forward to meeting Robert's family. We will miss Carol and Johnny Moore, Margaret's sister and her husband. They are faithful blog readers and I wanted them to know that we will be aware that they are with us in spirit. I'm sure lots of pictures will be taken and we will post a link to them here when they are up on the internet. I hear that our friend Tex Nolan from Monroe, Louisiana is faring well after a heart attack a few weeks ago. I'm glad to hear that. He is a source of joy and friendship for all of us here on the Coast. Yesterday I talked with David Kibler from Southern Acres Christian Church on the phone. He is so energetic! They are gearing up to bring 80 or 90 people with them for Spring Break 07. He has also been talking to their Minister of Missions about sending small teams of 8-12 skilled workers down for three-four day short-term work projects. That's the kind of thinking that will keep our mission going long term, and get people back into their homes. I also talked with Tom Hixson, who is working on two trips down in the near future. Tom is one special brother. He is from Pennsylvania and usually offers a communion meditation on Sunday mornings when he comes down to visit.
When you get a chance, check out my blog on crisis relief located HERE. Thanks for reading.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006


There was some interesting information in today's THE MISSISSIPPI PRESS, our local paper. Of the 68,729 single-family and other housing units destroyed by katrina, 23,250 were in Jackson County. Since Katrina, the suicide rate has increased 200 percent. Emergency Room visits at Singing Reiver Hospital and domestic violence cases have increased significantly. 9,000 residents are still living in a FEMA camper. Drug use among teenagers is up. Mental health officials who assisted victims after the September 11th terrorist attacks said major mental health issues did not peak for 24 months. All of that helps to paint the picture of our continuing struggle here on the Coast. We are far from being through with this project. The Christian Standard reflects this week on the Christian Church's response to Hurricane Katrina. Wade Tannehill 'tagged' me, so here is my list! 1. One book that changed your life: Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel will fit well into several of these categories. It truly is a masterpiece. 2. One book that you've read more than once: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers because it is a daily devotional. Don Everts' Jesus With Dirty Feet because it's short, to the point, and challenging. 3. One book you'd want on a desert island: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard because I would finally have time to finish it. Also I would have time to go back and consume it like I want to ... one paragraph at a time. 4. One book that made you laugh: A Marriage Made In Heaven or Too Tired For An Affair by Erma Bombeck. 5. One book that made you cry: He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado 6. One book you wish had been written: How To Think Up Hard Questions For Bloggers To Answer! 7. One book you wish had never been written: The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Not that we should feel threatened by it ... but am I the only one tired of hearing about this book? 8. One book you're currently reading: Soulguide by Dr. Bruce Demarest 9. One book you've been meaning to read: Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson and Kingdom Come by Bobby Valentine and John Mark Hicks. 10. Tag five others: Danny Dodd, Gary W. Kirkendall, Les Ferguson, Ken Harris, Chris Lockhart Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sporadic Blog

I have been a bit more sporadic about blogging lately, a malady which I intend to improve. I doubt that I can catch up with everything that has happened since my last blog, so I will not try. One of the things, though, that happened last weekend was the visit of folks from Brentwood Hills Church of Christ. It was delightful to see Frank and Linda Shelton again. It was equally delightful to meet Jesse and Andrea Clayton. They spent much time with us, Orange Grove, and Picayune talking about mission needs. We truly appreciate their interest. Before I forget, the podcast / audio of my Sunday sermon can be found HERE. The title is, "Qualities of A Spirit-Filled Church". Currently we have a grand total of three workers present this week. Keith Verdan came this past Spring with his group from Titan Christian Fellowship in Wisconnsin. He is down for a week working until school starts back up. Also we are glad to have Janelle and Emily here from State Center, Iowa. They are the ones who organized Tony the Trucker's trip down to the Coast several months ago. They are all three working hard delivering sheetrock and making visits in homes. On a personal note, Maggy's birthday was yesterday. Sunday afternoon we took off for an overnight get-a-way, saw a few movies and relaxed. I had an eye appointment and finally got new glasses after breaking mine in our first visit to Nashville. Monday afternoon there was a thunderboomer, and I sat on the porch of Dough Joe's and watched the rain, read Discipleship Journal, and had a peaceful time to think for just a little while. Last night we had an important board meeting at Gulf Coast Bible Camp. I am President of the Board, and we had some big items to cover. Tuesdays are mostly visitation days, and I visited some friends and members with Jim Ingram, one of our elders. And here I am at the end of the day with much left to do. I would like to direct your attention to a few items: You simply must read Margie Keiper's chronicles over the next few weeks as she details the destruction of Katrina across the coast. She will be featuring the places no one has talked about. She started about three days ago in Grand Isle, LA, so you're not too far behind to enjoy the entire series. It is already a fascinating read with awesome pictures. Her blog is located HERE. Also Larry James only needs $85,000 more to reach his goal to fund Central Dallas Ministries. I'm just going to be bold enough to say that if you read Larry James' incredible blog and your conscience isn't feeling some pain, you are either already very benevolent or awfully cold. Read him HERE and bookmark it! Wade Tannehill has tagged me, so in a post coming soon, I'll participate in the new round of blog tag. Who will I tag? That remains to be seen! Below: Frank & Linda Shelton, Jesse and Andrea Clayton at Central Sunday Morning.

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A rainy day on Beach Boulevard in Pascagoula.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Catching Up!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I can't believe I haven't posted anything since Monday. I guess it's just been that kind of week. The groups from Arkansas and Pennsylvania are through with their work. They worked in the house of a lady who hired a renegade contractor who did shoddy work and took a lot of her money. The sheetrock he hung up with nails was falling off of the wall. It was the Christian youth to the rescue as they stripped and rehung sheetrock in four rooms. They were rewarded when the sweet lady prepared them a couple of meals. But they were mostly rewarded by their love for Jesus that motivated them to do such hard work. Thursday I enjoyed a rare lunch with preacher friends Al Sturgeon, Les Ferguson, and Danny Dodd. We had a great visit. It was good for us to get together and share what was going on in our lives. We spent a lot of time talking about hurricane relief, and remembering those early days. I'm sure I've forgotten most of it. So many things that happened in those first days after Katrina is now a blur. But I remember clearly riding across the coast with Danny and the crew from Gateway to see Les and Al and to deliver supplies. Today was a day of meetings. Frank Shelton and Jessie Clayton are here (along with their wives) from Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville. They met today with our elders talking about the work here and how BHCOC can get more involved. The love shown from brothers and sisters far away continues to inspire and encourage us. Margaret and I ended our day by dining with the Sheltons at the Lookout 49 restaurant in Gulfport. It is a marvelous place to eat if you are in the area. Larry James is attempting to raise $100,000 in his ministry to the poor of Dallas. Not all disasters are weather-related. Larry's fight against poverty and the spiritual influence he brings to inner city Dallas is nothing short of heroic. I hope you will read his blog often. He is challenging in so many ways. The heart of Jesus is evident in his work. I've been trying to do better at keeping up the blog for Christian Crisis Resources. I invite you to check it out often and leave pertinent remarks! I hope your weekend is full of God's wonderful surprises. Keep your eyes open. He is working in ways that would amaze all of us! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, August 07, 2006

Off To A Great Start

Our week got off to a great start with the baptism of Michael King. Mike has been an awesome person to have around - he is a lot of help. Mike has quite a story to tell. The passing of his wife several years ago led to years of grief and pain that were numbed by alcohol. This path in life led to predictably bad consequences, including a severly damaged liver. Mike is currently living with the Salvation Army and working with us during the days. Before his baptism, Mike looked up all of the passages in Scripture about baptism and read them. It was a joy to immerse him into our Savior Jesus yesterday! I saw him first thing this morning and asked him how he felt. In his words, "I'm glowing". In the picture above is Mike with David Kilbern. David has been a strong influence for God in his life and he has talked to him several times about becoming a Christian. He is so excited to be a Christian, and has already been bringing others to hear the good news about Jesus. I met a friend of his named James today, and hope we will be able to establish a good relationship with him as well. Following morning worship we had a wonderful fellowship meal together. We had a good crowd to stay. There was so much food - it always amazes me. I especially enjoyed Mrs. Tyler's home made banana pudding - the kind that has to be cooked and is baked at the end with meringue on top. I'm getting hungry again! Enjoying the morning with us was the senior high group from the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville. They worked hard this weekend and headed back to Nashville today. Two new groups were in today. One from Gassville, AR and another from New Salem, PA. Both groups will work together this week to accomplish all they can. The group from Pennsylvania had a rough trip down, with two tires blowing out in the middle of the night. At first opportunity they stopped and had all the tires replaced. They made it, though, and with a great story to tell! The last group from Pennsylvania had a hard time getting here...are we seeing a pattern develop? Nah! I spent some time talking with David Kilbern today and he suggested that I mention the need for donations to continue the work we are doing. Monetary donations to the relief effort go directly into buying materials for people to repair their homes and supplies for those doing the work. As we approach the one year anniversary of Katrina, many have given so much. We know that interest continues, however, and any donations would be put to good use over the coming months. We do hope to be able to receive some funding from some available sources, but sometimes these can take a long time to come through. We've had some e-mails with people wanting to come work on Fall Break and Spring Break 07, and that is excellent! At this point the greatest need we have is for skilled workers to come and help us with home repair. We can always use unskilled labor to do many things that are helpful and good - but what people want more than anything is to be able to get into their home again. Tomorrow Mrs. Mildred will have a birthday. I wouldn't dare guess her age, but if she were a tree she would have over 80 rings! What a neat lady she is. On her birthday she will move back into her home. I know she couldn't receive a better birthday present than that. Speaking of birthdays, my dear friend Bill Collins of Gulfport turned 50 today. I hope he will stay in touch as he heads down the hill. As we face a housing crisis here on the Coast, my friend Daved Baker's organization helped one person regain their home. The news story can be found HERE. Our week is off to a great start with many neat projects ongoing. Thanks to all for the prayers, gifts, calls, e-mails, and other means of support we have received over the months. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Late Saturday Night on the Coast

It's been a pretty quiet weekend in Pascagoula, with lots of thunderstorms along the way. I'd like to tell you about one really cool thing that happened this week. The group from Taylors, South Carolina had a special task, one that was different from most of the relief work we are doing. The Eastside Church of Christ in Grand Bay, Alabama (20 miles away) was suffering following Katrina. Their building was in somewhat bad condition before the storm, and after the storm things just got worse. They have about 15 members, and not much hope of getting their building back in shape. Larry Wages, an elder at the Vancleave Church of Christ, called David Kilbern to talk about helping the Eastside family recover. Vancleave agreed to purchase the materials if we could send some help over. The group from Taylors took on the project and wanted to complete the work within the week. They got to work early on this week, tearing out the damaged areas. By the end of the week they had replaced all of the sheetrock, mudded, and painted the building. They took out the pews and chairs and cleaned them off and brought them back in. The ladies of the church cooked food and even sang a song to the workers. Tomorrow (Sunday) they will worship in a building that looks 100% better than it did last week. We need to get some carpet into the building to complete the task. Pictures of the work are located HERE. They will also need some outside work done, if someone would like to adopt that work. Isn't it wonderful when God's people band together to help each other out? The Taylors crew will worship with Eastside tomorrow before heading back to South Carolina. I would guess it will be a joyous assembly! On a somber note, I would like to request your prayers for the McCaughan family of Gulfport. Carl McCaughan suffered a fatal heart attack today while helping his neighbor recover from Katrina damage. Carl was an elder and long time member of the Orange Grove Church of Christ in Gulfport. He leaves behind three children and a wife. His youngest son is Andrew, who is 17 and still living at home. Pray also for Les Ferguson, minister of the congregation, those who will be leading worship tomorrow, and those ministering to the family in the following days. I am going to be more consistent with updating CHRISTIAN CRISIS RESOURCES BLOG, so if you would, check in there and participate when you can! As a flood victim, my heart goes out all the more to those who are suffering life changing disasters. Thanks for reading! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wednesday on the Coast

As we begin this Wednesday morning, all eyes are on Tropical Storm Chris, which expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico Monday morning as Hurricane Chris. I am attempting to keep these events documented at Christian Crisis Resources and the associated BLOG that goes with that site. As Hurricane Chris makes landfall somewhere along the gulf, I would like to be able to place information about local relief efforts on those sites. Keep me informed! Yesterday we were blessed to have a visit from Larry Sims and his wife from IDES. This organization has truly stood with us in hurricane relief, and we are very thankful for their financial help as well as the encouragements we receive from them. We gave them a tour of the facilities, including the dining hall. While there we ran into Gene and Robin Barrett. Gene is an elder at the Port City Church of Christ in Mobile. They were bringing some supplies for us to use in the dining hall. I also drove them through some of the disaster area that still exists here in Pascagoula. It was a joy to meet the Sims' and hope this will not be our last visit with them. Also we went to visit Mrs. Regina's home. Many of the relief groups have worked in this wonderful ladie's home. It had about three feet of water in it. I think Ms. Regina is in her late 80s and cares for her daughter, who is mentally challenged. Chief on her mind is getting back into her home (she currently lives in a FEMA camper in her back yard), and also the long term care of her daughter after she is gone. I had not been in her home in a while, so I was quite surprised yesterday to see how far things had progressed. Her home is only two blocks away from our church building. In neighboring Ocean Springs, a heartbreaking event happened earlier this week. The Kenneson Family, a household of ten people, had been flooded out of their home during Katrina. They were recently able to move back into their home, but it burned to the ground on July 28. The oldest daughter has just been diagnosed with cancer, and missed her surgery due to the fire. They are now living in a hotel room and, I'm sure, reeling from the loss. This family has been a source of encouragement to the community, having been involved with Habitat for Humanity. The Ocean Springs Church of Christ is starting a furniture / appliance drive for them. If you would like to help with donations or talk with someone to find out what they need, contact Shannon Lawlwer on his cell phone at 228-239-9025 or by e-mail at shannon.lawler@ngc.com. Interestingly, Shannon and his family returned after Katrina to find thier home totally gone. Nothing left. He is living in a house while a new home is being constructed. But isn't it awesome to see this brother working so hard for someone else, when he is also a victim? God is working in His servants. Looking forward to a great time of worship and praise tonight at Central Family Devotional. If you're in the area, come on in!