Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Failed Missionary: Loving and Helping Louisiana after the Storm with No Name

Just this past week, I attended Missionary Orientation and Training with Global Outreach International. This morning, I realized I'm a failed missionary already. 

It was a bitter pill to swallow. 

Our neighbor to the west, Louisiana, is in desperate trouble (as is a portion of coastal Mississippi) and I have taken mere seconds to pray for them. I've done nothing to help. I haven't even written an impassioned blog post.

I'm sorry, Louisiana and costal Mississippi. I've been so focused on the changes in my own life that I've overlooked the devastating changes in yours. I know its late, but I apologize. You are on my mind and heart today. You are in my prayers now.

The people in Louisiana are not just people in a nearby state. They are my fellow Americans, as are the people in my own state who have been affected. Many of them are brothers and sisters and Christ. 

It may be that some of them who are suffering will see the love of God in His people and become part of our family. If they've waited to see the love of Christ in me, though, I'm a little late to the work.

My friend and co-worker, Allie, has family in the area. The stories she's told me this morning have broken my heart. I've wiped away tears more than once.

The rains started last week. After more than 24 inches of rain, the floods started. There are reports of eight feet of water flooding into houses in less than two hours. Imagine that for a minute. Water, not trickling in or seeping in, but roaring into your home.

A family friend and his father were separated when his dad was washed away by the ferocity of the flooding. A week later, he still has not been found. His body has not been recovered. That's a kind of grief and loss I hope never to experience. 

The loss of material possessions is terrible, but the loss of life is devastating. At last count, nine people were dead. That number will likely rise as the waters recede. 

Children have been separated from their parents by the raging waters. I've seen pictures of children sleeping on the roof of their home, on the top of their car, alone. No adult supervision. No one to comfort them until rescuers come.

According to The Weather Channel, NOAA described this as a "sheared inland tropical depression." Some people are calling it "The Storm with No Name". 

CNN reported that 30 of the 64 parishes in Louisiana will be declared disaster areas. More than 20,000 people have been rescued from the flood area. More than 12,000 people are currently in shelters, unable to return to their homes. Flood waters made their way into more than 40,000 homes. 

Portions of I-10 have been damaged and are closed to traffic. Flood waters are still receding. State and federal authorities, as well as National Guard, are working tirelessly to rescue and help.

Rescuing people from the flooded areas is only the first step in the process. After flood waters recede, the work of repairing homes for families to move back in will be enormous. To make matters worse, many of these people were not in a flood plain. I am told by those with family members in the flooded areas that their loved ones did not have flood insurance, nor did their neighbors.

Consider that for a minute. Water up to the roof inside your house and no insurance to help in the clean up and recovery. The needs are monumental.

How can we help? 

We can pray for safety for those in harm's way, endurance for those rescue workers, and hope for those who've lost so much.

We can give. Eight Days of Hope/Hope Reigns will be in Baton Rouge helping families whose homes have been damaged. You can donate from this link: Donate to 8DOH/HR 

We can go. Eight Days of Hope/Hope Reigns' Baton Rouge work days will be August 18-26. You must be 18 or older to volunteer. (I've volunteered with them before. This is a terrific, Christ-centered organization.) You can volunteer with this link: Volunteer with 8DOH/HR

Crisis Response International (one of my all-time favorite Christian ministries) is deploying to Louisiana and is accepting both donations and volunteers. Here's the link: Volunteer with CRI.

Here's a list of other organizations that will be mobilizing disaster relief efforts (and the links). They are accepting both donations and volunteers.
Samaritan's Purse (My family members have volunteered with them. Great organization.)
Salvation Army (this is a donation link)
Operation Blessing International (this is a donation link but there is a volunteer button on the page)
Other opportunities (This CNN page links to other relief efforts underway)

We can help and, together, we can make a difference for those who have lost so much. We can assist those who go, even if we must stay home. We can share the love and hope of Christ will people whose hope is in shreds. 

We can, through the wonders of the digital highway, reach around the world. Today, let's travel that highway to reach those in need in Louisiana and Mississippi. 

We can make a difference, if we will.

"Then the King will say to those on His right... I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in, naked, and you clothed Me... Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:34-36, 40
Here's the link to yesterday's post, in case you missed it: The Fire-Filled Bones
Here's the link to the world-wide prayer guide: The Prayer List

photo courtesy of