Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Katrina Volunteer Phenomenon

Tens of thousands of volunteers from hundreds of faith-based groups have poured into the region.

AP runs a story on the amazing number of church folks volunteering in the Katrina Zone.

The Washington Post ran a similar story earlier in the month (free registration required).

Monday, February 27, 2006

Word and Deed, Again and Again

The collaboration between Christian groups has impressed Pass Christian's politicians. Christians represent 95 percent of relief volunteers, said Lou Rizzardi, Pass Christian's Ward 1 alderman who coordinates them.

"Faith-based organizations come in here much more organized, ready to go to work," Rizzardi said. "They don't ask for anything." Mennonites re-roofed Trinity Church, an Episcopal congregation. The Assemblies of God donated a huge tent to shelter Crusade volunteers. Pass Christian's largest volunteer presence is Campus Crusade. Of Todd's efforts to mobilize manpower, Rizzardi said, "I don't know what I would have done without him."

Christianity Today article posted today

photo from http://www.dbooth.net/ed/album/index.htm

Positions Available @ Trinity Church in Covington, LA

Trinity's Michael Sprague announces that they are filling some positions in Covington, LA. Specifically:

Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries

Trinity Church is a growing, vibrant, grace-centered, Evangelical Free Church of about 700 Christ-followers. The candidate must love Jesus and be a strong leader who is able to lead, train, and motivate volunteers and oversee a wide array of adult ministries spanning small groups, men's, women's, discipleship and care. This family oriented community is located on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, where you will find some of the best schools in the state. Better yet, we are experiencing revival, renewal, and an Acts 2 kind of experience in the aftermath of Katrina. A 15,000 square foot educational building will open in April. If you have been hearing the "still small voice" say "I've got a new adventure for you" please apply.

Pastor of Children's Ministry

Trinity Church in Covington, LA, is a contemporary EFCA church with an average attendance of 700. Of this 700, 140 are children from birth through sixth grade. We are looking for a dynamic, creative, fun loving person who is passionate about Jesus and able to create environments that are irresistible to children and their parents. The ideal candidate must be able to cast vision, recruit, train and mobilize volunteer staff. A new $1.5 million dollar state of the art children's building will open in April 2006.

If you are interested in applying for these positions or if you know of anyone who might be interested, please email Michael Sprague.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

work, work, work

Trinity's Michael Sprague reports that as of 2/12 Trinity Church has seen 1,898 volunteers from all across the country forming 153 teams investing 72,810 work hours completing 834 work requests

See his most recent letter here.

photo courtesy of stock.xchng

New Orleans Times-Picayune Article on Trinity Church

Volunteers working through Trinity Church in Covington, LA - including those from KatrinaGrace - have invested over 52,000 work hours assisting Katrina-affected LA residents.

The Times-Picayune recently covered the church's efforts.


Monday, February 13, 2006

KatrinaGrace Team IV Dec 2005 Trip and Pics

In late Dec 2005, Jen Long and Beth Shields travelled to
Covington, LA to meet with Trinity Church's Michael Sprague and Mark Lewis to plan KatrinaGrace activities for 2006.


The Trip

In December, KatrinaGrace decided to bring Christmas to Covington, so on December 17th, Jen Long & Beth Shields flew down to meet with pastor Michael Sprague and team leader Mark Lewis to deliver $15,000 worth of gift cards for Trinity to distribute and to discuss Grace’s role in the continuing rebuilding effort. During this meeting, we learned a number of new things, not the least of which is the extent to which suicide is an issue at this time. Michael said that the effects of the storm are being felt more than ever by those who must rebuild their lives in a dramatically different world than what they knew before. Michael had spoken to someone dealing with suicidal thoughts every day that week. We also found out that our teams need to stay for a week in order to be effective, and that tearing down and rebuilding homes is not the only type of team we can send – cooking teams, counseling teams, and daycare teams are all possibilities - which opens up the number of people from Grace who can be an effective part of this ministry. We talked about the possibility of planning eight trips this year as opposed to the four we had originally planned – a major difference in what we had discussed (the leadership team needs to sign off on this first). In addition, Johnny & Jen Long are hoping to start an adopt-a-family type program, where Grace families can “adopt” families through Trinity. Michael informed us that moral support and encouragement may be even more necessary than financial support. Mark Lewis is contemplating an adopt-a-house type program, where individuals and/or organizations would adopt a particular house to renovate or construct. Mark said only 10 percent of the work has been completed so far. He and Michael also put a bug in our ear about incenting the Howard County community to help raise money and support for the rebuilding effort. The true rebuilding effort will probably not be into full swing until the spring of 2006. Michael also informed us that Compassion is looking to hire a retired contractor who can work for six months as a project manager to aid in the rebuilding effort. Price gouging is a problem now with the market demand being so high for construction and roofing companies. Finally, we discussed the staff of Trinity, a total of eight people who are working more than full-time to bring hope and healing to Covington and the surrounding communities. These amazing people are overworked, overstressed, and overtired and need special support and encouragement from our community.

It's not known at this point how many of these needs KatrinaGrace can specifically address, but the trip definitely gave us a lot to think about as we finalize plans for 2006. And, of course, with God's help, we will pitch in in 2006!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Impact of KatrinaGrace Christmas 2005 Initiative

On December 17th, 2005, Beth Shields and Jen Long, on behalf of Grace Community Church's KatrinaGrace Ministry, delivered $15,000 worth of Gift Cards from Home Depot, Target and Walmart to the folks at Trinity Church in Covington, LA to distribute to their friends and neighbors impacted by Hurricane Katrina. After these were distributed, at our request, Trinity asked her folks to provide some feedback on the cards' impact. Here's what we found out.

Donnette Nienaliei

I gave the gift card to a young couple with 3 children who are taking care of a 91 year old woman in a wheelchair. They had a tree on the roof of their house that caused major structural damage. They still have a 4*4 in their den holding up the main beam to keep it from falling in. There were so grateful for the gift card and couldn’t believe we would do that.

John McCants

A lady came into church asking for help with her light bill. I asked if she was ok, and she said she had lost a family member, had another sick relative, and was working odd jobs in tough financial times. I have her the gift card and was able to pray with her! She was very grateful, saying it would help.

Accardo Family (four $50 Cards)

We gave all 4 of our cards to Cindi Christian.

Cindi lived in Slidell, LA prior to Hurricane Katrina. Cindi’s House was totally flooded and she lost all of her personal belongings. Cindi is in the entertainment business and all of her clients closed down and [her] business was lost.

Cindi is a warm and giving person who needed to know that God loves her and will be with her during this time.

Cindi is currently living in Kenner, her clothes are in Algories and working in New Orleans ([when] she can). She was delighted with the gift!!

Robin Cooper

I live n Slidell about one mile from the lake. Needless to say my house became an indoor swimming pool. God has continued to show His Great Grace & Mercy in providing 1st a c*15 camper & now a FEMA [trailer]. His will [permitting], my home is being [rebuilt[. Thank you for your kindness towards our family.

John Hecker

One of my co-workers lives in Slidell. He had 5 ft. of water in his house and lost both of his cars. His children, [a] daughter [(15)] and son [(10)] (guessing on ages), were sent to New York with his mother-in-law. The family is Catholic by faith, but by the way [of his] fierce love he has for his children, I know he knows the Lord in his heart. His son returned from New York the day after Thanksgiving. His daughter is too afraid to come home. His heart is hurting very much because of this. With the help of work, FEMA, and others, his house is being rebuilt. He has done a lot of the work himself. I had given him the card to buy his son a Christmas present. With all money going into the house, he had no hopes for giving his son anything. He is not materialistic, but Christmas is for the kids. I felt that this [was] where the Lord was prompting me to send these funds. He asked me to thank everyone in Trinity. I have talked to him about what we do at Trinity. I do not know if he will ever set foot in here, but he seems very openhearted and humbled by what we do.

Tony B

This lady I work with and her husband lived in Chalmette. They had just made their final mortgage payment and their house was paid off. Her husband drove an 18 wheeler. When Katrina came, their house and the 18 wheeler were washed away. I didn’t know but 18 wheelers are only insured when they are being driven. So that was a total loss. In their late 50’s, she told me last week that she couldn’t believe that they were having to start over. Her husband is working ripping out houses. They now live on the West Bank in an apartment and hope to rebuild in Chalmette at some point. I had carried the gift card for over a week and last night I decided to give it to her. When I got to work, I went to the lunch room and she was the only one there. She went to her office and after getting some coffee I approached her as she was taking out her check book. I don’t know if she was checking her balance or getting ready to write a check, but the gift card brought tears to her heart.

Beverly Theisen

Spoke with a lady at my gym – while we were talking she began to relate to me the story of her daughter and grandbaby who lost everything and were in a FEMA trailer.

As I shared the gift with her she was sincerely touched and very grateful. Thank you for allowing me to participate in giving this gift of love – what joy it brought to my heart.


I wanted to share an experience we had with the gift cards. We picked up three gift cards when they were first offered and kept them waiting for the Lord to put someone on our hearts or bring the need to us. We waited and waited – nothing. Then I got a call from this lady whom I’ve known for years that works with OCS. Years ago my office had adopted a family for Christmas and then continued to do so every year since. She called and wanted to know if we still did that. I checked and we had already adopted our family for this year. Then she told me she had prayed about this family and who could she call and she said the Lord told her to call me. Then I thought of the gift cards. I put her in touch with Karen and the kids and they all got together and used the gift cards to buy presents for this family with 10 kids under the age of 12, 5 boys and 5 girls. They wrapped the presents and delivered them to the family. I receive a thank you card this past week that reads as follows:

Bill, Thanks! Hanging out with your family was a wonderful experience. Your obedience to God to help this family and demonstrate the true meaning of giving warmly touched my heart and theirs. Thanks for arranging and thank Karen for making it happen. Regina”

Praise God!

Rebecca B

First I must praise and honor my God for his provisions. In the last few months God has provided me with a vehicle and a home. After returning from Katrina I felt as if I should give a lady $50.00. At first I thought maybe it was my own emotions. I wanted it to be of God and for Him to receive the glory from it. As I waited and prayed, the idea would not leave me. I was about the give the lady the money. I guess I was also so hesitant because I am a single mother living solely on child support. So I am very limited on finances. What an amazing God! When I was told about the card last Sunday and that the amount was for $50.00 I knew my God had provided the money. So I knew it would not be in any way my doing and God will receive the Glory. Not only did God provide that, but I was also blessed when someone gave me a gift card this week. I got my son a nice Christmas suit and new pair of shoes. I am not poor, my Heavenly Father owns it all. Praise His Holy Name.

Liz Haindel

I gave a gift card to a store clerk that I saw regularly that just seems to have a hard life. Surprisingly she just snatched it up with hardly a word.

God is teaching me again to do His works without expectation of any reward here but trust He is going to use this for His glory.

A preschool worker new to Northlake Christian since the storm is commuting from Percy Quinn State Park everyday. She and her extended family all lost their homes in Chalmette but are together in campers at the park.

She was very grateful for the gift.