Goshen, Indiana, pastor Jim Brown, who is leading a team from his church to assist with Hurricane Katrina cleanup in Mobile, Alabama. Here is his report of Wednesday afternoon, September 14:
It has been a very interesting 36 hours. We arrived to a very interesting mix of order and chaos.
The local churches and government took people in and set up a very orderly situation. We first met evacuees in the campground that we are staying at. They told us stories of the lives they had lost.
At the campsite beside us live Tom and Ruby. They have been married for 55 years and lost all their physical possessions except for their truck, camper, and some clothes. They consider themselves to be some of the lucky ones. They told us how the local churches have been coming around to give them food.
I’ll never forget what Tom said, “It is so nice to see Christians helping Christians.” Tom and Ruby are Catholic and their lives have really been touched to see the church reaching out beyond the borders of denominations or race.
We got our “training” and within a few hours we found out that the game had all changed. We first visited a Red Cross shelter in the Ruston Civic Center.
The local gov’t had the shelter up and running for a week before the Red Cross even arrived. The lobby of civic center was a war zone of different agencies turfing it out for control. They really did not know what to do with us.
Quickly we found out that we were in some kind of weird southern parallel universe. Every thing is yes um, no mmam, yessir, nosir. We feel like we are extras on the movie “Water Boy.”
At the civic center we played with some kids for a while and the medically trained members of our team were split off and put to work. This took care of Ann, Trevor, and Jason.
After some more chaos they eventually dispersed the rest of our team out to a Red Cross Shelter at the Emanuel Baptist Church. The church people are southern and friendly. The motto of the south should be, “We’ll welcome you into our house, but we will really make sure that you follow our rules.”
Once we learned the rules, we were able to get to work with “good Christian people.” The first night was very slow. Terry and I served supper; Heather started work organizing the clothing room. We divided up our remaining team into two groups working 12-hour shifts.
Jim, Joel, and Laura are working nights and Terry, Boyd, and Heather are working days. We are settled into a routine now and are finally getting to work. Heather is working at keeping the “free clothes store” up and running.
Terry and I are wrestling a couple of 800-pound gorillas named FEMA and the Red Cross to get people assistance. We are not giving out any information to people unless we can get the same story from at least two unrelated sources. Please pray for us–we need wisdom.
John is in Shreveport with the bus. We have been working really hard trying to let them know about this church in Indiana that is prepared to love on them and help them get back on their feet.
We have one taker. His name is Kevin. Please welcome him with open arms. Terry and I were talking and we are confirmed that it is God’s divine intervention that our paths ended up crossing.
Bottom Line: Your prayers are effective. Our work is now effective. Kevin will be a great addition to our church.
Please pray that the Lord gives us wisdom in the days ahead.