LAFITTE, Louisiana – When Hurricane Isaac rolled across South Louisiana the steeple of Barataria Baptist Church suffered the consequences, opening up a hole that enabled rain to pour into the congregation’s sanctuary for 36 hours.
The damage devastated the structure, and set the church back. Four months later, the body still needed assistance.
The church found it the first week of 2013 as about 40 orange-vested Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery Corps volunteers came to help clear the destruction in the sanctuary and work in an area home.
“It was an answer to prayer when these guys came from Texas,” said Pastor Eddie Painter.
Volunteers cleared debris, removed mold-ridden drywall, cleaned damaged structures and began the repair process. They spent long hours in bitterly-cold temperatures trying to get a congregation and a family back on their feet.
The cooperation was beautiful, said Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield and president of the African American Fellowship who participated in the trip. The Texas group consisted primarily of African Americans who helped an Anglo congregation.
“We’re here as partners,” Evans said. “In this thing, that’s how we make it. That’s how we save our communities as partners. Not as blacks, not as whites, not as Hispanics, but as people of faith, people of God.”
When Randy Ray, a member of First Baptist Church in Salado, heard about the opportunity to minister in Plaquemines Parish, he knew he had to be there. That’s where he grew up, where he made so many friends as a child.
“It struck a heartstring for people I grew up with in Port Sulphur and stuff,” he said. “I figured I’d give it a go.”
God honored his willingness to respond to the call out, Ray said. He was able to provide help for a family desperately seeking it. He was one of the instruments God used to provide hope.
“A lady yesterday said she’d been praying and praying for someone to come help,” he said. “To know that God used you to answer her prayer, that’s what it’s all about – being His hands and feet.”
Evans shared a similar feeling of being obedient to God’s desires. In the midst of the destruction, Texas Baptist volunteers set out to provide practical help and point to eternal hope.
“We need to know that when storms come, the effects are lingering,” he said. “We believe we were inspired by God to come and serve our fellow pastor here. We just want to bring a little hope.”
The impact of Texas Baptists ministry will be felt long after they are gone, Painter said.
“We’re grateful to have your people here,” he said. “I believe it will not only help us to bear fruit in the sense that we will have our building back, [but] this building is going to be used for a lot of ministry. It provides for a lot of opportunities for us to share Christ in this community.”
Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery has another opportunity to serve south of New Orleans where Hurricane Isaac did the most damage. The trip is scheduled for March 9-16. For more information, visit texasbaptists.org/disaster.
“Communities and people’s lives are still in a state of disaster,” said Gerald Davis, Texas Baptists’ disaster recovery and development specialist. “They need our help. This is what we’re calling our Texas Baptist family to do. We did well in immediate relief, but we want to keep going.”
Texas Baptists Disaster Recovery is supported by Texas Baptists disaster response funds. To designate gifts to this ministry so opportunities like this can continue to be possible, visit texasbaptists.org/give.
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