Remembering Katrina

As the great national disaster of last year's Hurricane Katrina reaches its one-year birthday-and a new hurricane season is upon us-Americans who believe in the power of prayer need to be asking God to spare the nation another such visitation. We also need to remember that New Orleans, and indeed a great swath of the Gulf Coast, is just taking the first steps to recoverto return to normalcy. And in our prayers, let us especially remember our brethren in Christ in stricken churches in the devastated areas, and the pastors who minister to them-many of whom are doubly burdened: their lives were also severely impacted, and yet they must invest themselves in their flocks. Many of these men of God are reaching the point of physical and spiritual exhaustion. Cecil W. Seagle, director of missions for the Florida Baptist Convention, recalls from first-hand knowledge the physical and emotional impact of Hurricane Andrew in 1992: "At that time Andrew was the most devastating storm to strike North America. Lying in its wake were lives, homes, churches, businesses, and loss beyond description. Power grids evaporated over night. Cell phone towers fell like straw in high winds. Communication was practically impossible. Water and sewer service were non-existent. Restaurants, grocery stores, and service plazas were blown away. Congregations were scattered, with homes and houses of worship ripped apart." Then Dr. Seagle added: "In the early days of disaster relief struggle I met Mickey Caison, then a South Carolina pastor and disaster relief volunteer. Mickey painted a heart-breaking picture of Hurricane Hugo's impact on the life and ministry of South Carolina churches. Mickey told of the huge pastoral turn-over during the two years following Hugo. As I recall, more than 80 percent of the pastors relocated to another congregation within two years following Hugo." Eighty percent! Think of that! And then remember that Katrina's impact dwarfs these earlier calamities. These brethren, their families, and their flocks need our prayers and whatever assistance we are able to render. One effort, a joint endeavor of AMG and Hoffmantown Church of Albuquerque, NM, is a three-day subsidized conference/retreat for a number of pastors and their wives from the Gulf Shore of Mississippi, ravaged by Katrina, to help them recharge their batteries. The need is great.
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