Katrina — revisited
Hello! My name is Caitriona Campbell, and I live in the United States. Nearly two years ago, I wrote an article (ET, November 2009) about a trip I had taken down to Lakeshore, Mississippi, to help with Hurricane Katrina relief work.
I would like to share with you some of the progress that has been made in that area, as well as a few important lessons I have learned from serving the Lord in Mississippi. This January marked the fourth year that I have had the privilege of travelling down to and working in Lakeshore.
Lakeshore is in Hancock County and was the hardest hit area during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina that devastated so much of the southern coast of the United States.
It was not a prosperous area before the hurricane, and is now struggling to regain any of the little economic stability it had. Available jobs are few and far between; children are being constantly moved from school to school, as parents hunt for jobs. Many in the population suffer from depression and the suicide rate has risen considerably over the past few years. There is painful physical and spiritual poverty.
Lakeshore Baptist Church has been a ray of light and hope in the surrounding area, ever since Katrina hit. The church, along with the aid of other organisations and volunteer groups, has helped many people in the community to rebuild their homes. As a result, there are now a lot more permanent homes in Lakeshore.
The church has finally been able to build its Mercy House, a distribution centre where people can come to receive free food, clothes and household items. There is a permanent bunk house on the church property for volunteers, and work has begun on the new church building itself. Slow and steady progress is being made.
I was able once again to join a ministry team for my week in Lakeshore. Working with three other people, I was able to go and visit members of the community who have had some sort of contact with Lakeshore Baptist Church.
While we had a list of people to find, our most fruitful encounters were with people whom we providentially met along the roadside. We spoke with a group of young people about the gospel, and it was an honour to be able to share with them the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. It was a very humbling experience.
During these visits, I was much struck with just how much I have been blessed, and for how much I ought to be thankful.
We visited one woman in her home who was drunk and using drugs. After being with such a dark, desolate and hopeless woman, I was moved to tears with the realisation that, apart from God’s grace, that could just as easily have been me. Any of us who have been brought up in Christian homes and sheltered from this kind of life ought to be extremely grateful.
While many of us have known the gospel all our lives, there are others who have never heard the saving message of Jesus Christ. We should be thankful for God’s amazing grace to us all.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all my times there. It is always a wonderful time of fellowship with other Christians and a unique opportunity to serve the Lord and share the gospel.
There is a difficulty, however, with this type of work; and those of you who have gone on mission trips will know this. It is easy to be excited about telling people about Christ when we are surrounded by people with the same objective. We can be bold for Jesus and enthusiastic about sharing the gospel when it is only for a short time.
We are filled with passion for the cause of the kingdom of God. We are refreshed and revitalised. But then we return to our ordinary lives. We go back to school, or university, or work; we are surrounded by our friends again, and the fervour fades.
The passion lasts only a little while and then it fizzles out into a lukewarm laziness. We step back into the monotony of our lives, and our desire to share the gospel fades away into a ‘some other day’ attitude. We lose the urgency of the message of Jesus Christ.
This has certainly been a challenge for me over the years. I want to remind and encourage you that you do not have to be on a mission trip to tell people about the gospel. Let going to school be your daily ‘mission trip’.
You do not have to go to a disaster area to find people who are lost and hopeless. Over the years, I have learned that while it is immensely profitable to serve the Lord in other parts of the country/world, we have just as much of a responsibility to share the gospel in our homes.
I walk past hundreds of unsaved teenagers every day at my high school, as I am sure you do, and it is important to take all the opportunities that the Lord has given us in the places that we are.
One author has noted that in the days of the early Christian church ‘every Christian was a missionary’. Let that be our aim also!