Hello friends,And then she added this P.S.: Please keep the folks on the east coast in your prayers. Tropical Storm Danny is buzzing along in the Atlantic.
I haven't written much lately. Not much has changed since the last time I wrote, but since tomorrow marks the 4th anniversary of Katrina, I thought I'd write some. I started to say write a little, but I don't won't to lie to you!!
Four years ago, I was sitting in Tracy &Van Sikes' home in Marietta, GA, glued to their TV screen. Flipping between CNN, Fox and the Weather Channel, I knew that the coast I left on August 28 was gone forever. Having been through Camille as well, I knew that recovery would take years, not months. I watched as Jim Cantore stood in hip deep water at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. I knew then that the amount of water was unparalleled. I had stood in that same parking lot on several occasions. A few days later I watched a home video taken from the parking garage at the Beau Rivage. The water was up to the bottom of the video screen on the marquee. I knew that was a lot of water, but didn't realize how much until some months later when I was a the traffic light by the Beau. I looked up at the bottom of that marquee and was overwhelmed at the true depth of that water. And so it goes.
Now, four years later, I am still overwhelmed by how high that sign at the Beau is.
If you drive down Hwy. 90 (beach road) you won't see the piles of debris, misplaced boats, and ripped up trees. That has, for the most part, been cleared away. What I see when I drive down the beach is the emptiness of it all. Lots of empty lots. You still see lots of slabs and steps to nowhere. There are a few homes that have been rebuilt or repaired. An occasional gas station or restaurant has reappeared. In fact I had lunch at the White Cap this past Thursday. It was in the Gulfport Harbor prior to Katrina, but was rebuilt several miles to the east on the north side of Hwy. 90. The food, however, was just as good as I remembered.
I have a new job now. I work for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. I travel around the lower 3 coastal counties. I enjoy driving along the beach and bayous. I have learned how much water there really is down here. I hadn't known or thought about that until Katrina. I love to drive close to water and watch the boats sailing in and out. Very peaceful. I suppose that answers the question, "Why do you stay there where you are in harm's way during hurricane season?" It is peaceful and beautiful and the pace of life is slower.
As I travel around Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, I get to see the progress that has been made, and what still remains to be done. In Hancock County the county offices are still in temporary trailers, but downtown Bay St. Louis has many shops and eateries open. The Bay bridge is open and 4 lanes across. Pass Christian, once again, lost a lot of the beach front properties, as they did in Camille. But new stores are slowly popping up. The homes on Scenic Drive are being repaired and soon will be shining brightly. The Wal-Mart on the Pass Christian/Long Beach border has been rebuilt and is taking applications for employment. Long Beach is coming back.
The Friendship Oak survived another one. I have been there several times. Walking under those centuries old branches is indescribable. There is still many empty lots in Long Beach and Gulfport. But you see signs of recovery everywhere.
We still have volunteer groups coming down. Of course not as many as were coming immediately after the storm. I happened across Camp Victor in Ocean Springs one day while looking for a food pantry. Camp Victor is sponsored by several different denominations and it serves as a homebase for volunteer groups. There is a kitchen and cafeteria for feeding, several dormitory rooms with lots of bunk beds, a common area for relaxing and a chapel for praying. It is an awesome facility. Hanging from the rafters are T-shirts from the groups that have passed through Camp Victor. There is a map hanging on the wall with pins indicating the places these groups called home. I couldn't count the number of pins there. The walls are covered with messaged from the volunteers. I think the thing that stands out the most is the pair of tennis shoes that are on display. They are held together with duct tape!! I've always heard you can fix anything with duct tape. I guess it's true. As I said it's an amazing place.
Four years later things are moving along nicely. Have we completely recovered? No. But we are closer today than we were yesterday. If you volunteered or know someone who did, please accept my heartfelt thanks. We have come this far because of the willingnessof the people here to get up and work and because of the thousands of volunteers who came. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I hope that this little note has conveyed to you a sense of accomplishment and hope. I do tend to get reflective sometime, but all in all the mood I see is positive and one of hope. Please continue to keep the coast in your prayers.
Love you all,
Today, most of the City's operations are based out of temporary facilities located at the corner of Fleitas and Second Street just one block off the beach, behind War Memorial Park. Most office hours are from 8 AM to 4 PM. The City Hall trailer houses the Mayor, Comptroller and General Administration staff. Directly behind city hall to the west is the Municipal Court trailer. North of the City Hall trailer is the building codes department. The police department is located in two trailers at the far west side of the temporary site.Time moves on. Four years have passed. In our age of instant headlines and 24-hour news cycles, our memories are short. This anniversary should not serve as a time to feel sorry for Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast residents. They are moving forward. They are living life and rebuilding. The aftermath of the hurricane provided unprecedented opportunities for spreading the Gospel and providing Christian compassion and service. We who were not directly touched by Katrina should not feel pity for those who were. Instead, we should use this anniversary as an opportunity to remember to pray for them. Praise God for the pockets of revival He has brought as a result and humble ourselves before Him.
William Carey, Born August 17th, 1761: Died - -Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honoured of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel’s dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm
On thy kind arms I fall.
This is sad. Another pastor taken down by sin. Now, I think these cases are the exception. Our churches are largely filled with good men and women who lead. But
the fall of pastors is still too prevalent and it has me thinking about the "Senior Pastor" model. The liabilities are many:
#1 - The senior pastor is looked to primarily for leadership that reflects charisma rather than character. When there’s a single primary pastor, whether consciously or
unconsciously, he alone is relied upon to be the “face” of the ministry. And in our culture, it’s charisma not character that makes a lasting first impression on people. Therefore, many churches depend upon his celebrity status to represent their ministry. New attenders, enamored by a personality, choose to join a church primarily on that basis. Indeed, in many cases a senior pastor’s character is an afterthought.
#2 - The body of believers is much more susceptible to the development of an unhealthy co-dependence on the senior pastor. The “Senior Pastor” model, when combined with the widespread dysfunction found in American culture, encourages a co-dependent relationship between pastor and parishoner that is detrimental to the spiritual health of the body. Thus, the typical believer experiences an unhealthy need to connect with the senior pastor on some level before he or she can connect to that particular church.
# 3 - The personality of the senior pastor begins to dominate church life. When there is so much dependence placed upon a single leader, his strengths and weaknesses tend to shape the body life of the church. His strengths become the emphasis of the church, no matter how unbalanced. In addition, his weaknesses, unable to be counter-balanced by other leaders, are likely to become the weaknesses of the church.
#4 - The senior pastor model encourages the body of believers to become spectators. Since the senior pastor is the “professional” minister who is paid to do the work of the
ministry, the body is enabled to sit back and watch him and his staff do their job. Thus, the large majority of significant ministry is carried out by the paid staff of a particular church.
#5 - When a senior pastor falls, the damage is immense. When there is so much dependence upon a single leader, the effects of his sin and shortcomings are multiplied exponentially. In contrast to the elevated status of the senior pastor, the lesser roles of associate pastor or support staff do little to mitigate against the damage to the body.
Could it be these liabilities are the result of an unbiblical model of church leadership? A biblical model should provide us with a structure that mitigates against these weaknesses. I'm sure that church in Compton is going to be reeling for some time.