O’Deens, senior pastor of Gateway Grace Community Church in Parkesburg, PA, has been named coordinator for Northwest Louisiana for a major relief agency. That means he is responsible to care for the basic needs of the 7,000+ refugees who have already come to Shreveport, in addition to others who continue to be brought there.
Earlier Wednesday, a refugee center in another city, unable to deal with the staggering needs and total anarchy, was forced to close. The 500 refugees there were then brought to Shreveport. At that point, desperate for help, Dan placed a call to Winona Lake, asking for the support of our Fellowship.
God is giving our Fellowship a special opportunity to respond to the immediate needs of the Hurricane Katrina refugees in Shreveport. Co-sponsored and coordinated by the FGBC National Organizations in Winona Lake, this relief effort will focus on several stages in quick succession:
1. An ADVANCE TEAM from Winona Lake leaves for Shreveport Thursday morning, September 8th, to meet with Dan O’Deens and assess the situation’s most urgent needs.
2. A FIRST-RESPONSE TEAM leaves for Shreveport on Friday, September 9, to serve there for 10 days, returning on September 19 (those who wish to, may stay longer).
This team will be composed of at least nine people who will serve as “Shift Operators,” helping O’Deens with crowd control, calming and organizing the refugees. Several people from the staffs of our national organizations will be part of this team. Please pray for this team in the next few days.
Funding for First Responders: the National Organizations are donating to help cover the financial needs of the First Responders, but we also need the support of our churches. Donations may be made to the Grace Brethren Disaster Relief Fund at any of the websites of our national organizations (www.gbim.org, www.gbnam.org, www.grace.edu, www.cenational.org).
Please note that up to this time Grace Brethren donations for the hurricane disaster relief were being channeled through the Christian Emergency Network. We praise God that $12,000 has already been given by Grace Brethren churches and individuals, and is currently helping the refugees!
From this point on, however, donations to the Grace Brethren Disaster Relief Fund will go directly to Grace Brethren efforts in Shreveport and in other areas as God opens the doors.
3. VOLUNTEER TEAMS. These teams will be composed of volunteers from Grace Brethren churches throughout our Fellowship. Again, this will be PEOPLE ministry, as opposed to debris clean-up. The teams will be deployed to Shreveport in 10-day increments. The initial schedule for volunteer teams will be:
First Wave: September 17 – 27
Second Wave: September 25 – October 5
More teams will be scheduled, depending on the response of volunteers. The conditions among the refugees in Shreveport are turbulent and constantly changing. Volunteers need to be spiritually strong and mentally & emotionally flexible, able to handle fluid situations. If you would like to apply to be a member of one of these teams, please complete the online application at www.fgbc.org/katrina
HOW CAN YOU HELP THE SHREVEPORT REFUGEES?
1. PRAY. You’ll be receiving information about a coordinated prayer effort, but for now, please pray for great strength and wisdom for Dan O’Deens. Pray that God will provide the men needed for the First Responder team. Pray for funding to cover the expenses of the First Responders. Pray for strength and grace for all the teams. Pray that God will provide many volunteers from our churches and that, through them, God’s love will be spread throughout Shreveport and many will come to Christ. Pray for the other Grace Brethren People already serving in that region.
2. GIVE. The needs will be great, in caring for the teams we’re sending, and in caring for the needs of the refugees. Look for the golden FGBC Disaster Relief Fund banner that will be on the websites of all our national organizations.
3. GO. Apply to join one of the volunteer teams, and go to Shreveport, Louisiana, to give direct assistance to the refugees there. Apply at www.fgbc.org/katrina
WATCH YOUR EMAIL AND ANY OF THE WEBSITES OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR CONTINUING UPDATES ON THIS VITAL GRACE BRETHREN DISASTER RELIEF EFFORT IN SHREVEPORT!
Other Katrina relief efforts are also happening in the FGBC. If your church is involved in an actual relief effort, email tomavey@Fgbc.org