Let me start with an offer to help you visually see what is going on here. Wayne Rogers, our worship pastor, has produced the first in a coming series of DVD’s to chronicle God’s work here. You can order a copy at Trinitychurchonline.net. The DVD will help you understand things that could never be communicated with words.
Tonight I just finished addressing a large group of our volunteers. We almost hit the 200 level! These are the best people you could ever meet. Let me tell you about a few:
1. One man came to serve even though his stepson died last week in a car accident. His stepson wanted to come with his stepfather to serve in New Orleans. Though grieving, he and his wife decided God had called them here. The stepfather brought his stepson’s boots and laid them before the cross located at the front of the church. It is amazing how this family is sacrificing for us and our community. This man, a career military man, said he stood in shock and awe when he saw New Orleans. It is worse than anything he has ever seen in battle. He is making a difference.
2. Another man stood and shared that he was from Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. Through his tears he shared that he had learned to trust the Lord daily at the intercity mission for food and life sustenance. He could see that we were doing the same and tears came for the overwhelming need here. Here was a man with so little, giving so much to us.
3. One group from Illinois cancelled their “men’s advance” (retreat) this month and brought their men here to serve us instead. They forfeited money through the cancellation, but felt this was a great opportunity for their men to give of themselves.
4. Church after church verbalized that they were committed to us for the long haul. This is so encouraging, for the needs are so great. My observation is that life is getting harder for people, not easier. Power is coming back on, schools opened Monday and FEMA is clearing the debris, but I am seeing the magnitude of the problems growing wider and deeper by the day. The props that got us through the first month are going away (Red Cross, National Guard, delayed mortgage and credit card payments, etc.). Very soon we will face the realities of life and in many cases it will not be pretty. Job lay-offs are reported every day and this will have a spiral effect. Bills will come due soon and many will collapse under their weight. Many homes have 2-5 families living in them. Imagine the pressures living with several of the families who have lost everything. I predict a tidal wave of human devastation in the next 4-8 weeks as pressures mount. I met with a family yesterday who lost their 14-year old in the hurricane. They had two trees crash through their home, yet three families were now living in it. $60,000 worth of tools were stolen and the man’s employees were gone. The tears that flowed could have formed a puddle by the time we finished praying and helping them out financially. It will take years to put the community back together and see lives rebuilt.
In the middle of all this chaos, people are being helped one-by-one. That is the way of Christ. Hundreds of people have come into the free store. They are helped both spiritually and physically. Some of those helped in the free store now also work in the store and have begun attending church. Some have come to Christ within the last three weeks and have given testimony in our services. At least 52 new families have signed our visitor book at the church over the last few weeks. Opportunities abound to share the message of the love of Christ. Good rumors about the church are circulating everywhere. Wouldn’t it be great if people didn’t think of Christians as angry people carrying placards of protest or as self-righteous finger-pointing people? What if they saw a new humanity that displayed the fruits of the Spirit? What if Christians displayed both truth and grace in a way that reflected the real Jesus who came to seek and to save those who are lost? This is what I long for and am seeing. Please pray for a great revival.
Last Sunday I encouraged Trinity church in three ways: First, prayer…no revival has ever taken place without surrender and dependence upon God. Second, consecration…no revival in scripture or church history has occurred without repentance and coming clean with God. Third is love…we need to practically practice a supernatural kind of love so that there is not a needy person among us. Pray for revival and renewal in our lives.
On a personal note, Donna and I had our roof rebuilt this week. The skylight from where the tree hit the house was huge. One day soon, three rooms in the house will need to be rebuilt, along with new carpet, and a new kitchen countertop. A new fence is being built tomorrow and FEMA just removed the debris from our 10 trees. Pray for Donna. As someone observed, Donna went from the empty nest to no nest in a week’s time. She is back in her nest, but it has been messed with greatly. Donna continues to be a choice servant of Christ. Daily she ministers to others and enables me to focus on ministry. Her love for Christ and for me is outstanding. I am very grateful. We are bringing Jonathan back from Texas for a three-day weekend in two weeks so that he can get a firsthand look at our house and his room!
Well, the clock just struck midnight, so I’d better wrap this up. The Lord is good. I’ve got a great staff and a loving church. My wife is the best, and we cherish our son. I’ve got the best friends in the world who are all over this country. I’ve got a purpose to live for, enough problems to keep me dependent on God, and enough joys to keep me going. As I go to bed tonight, I realize that there is nothing I’d rather do than follow Christ.
Betting the farm on God, Michael