I was on a plane full of Presbyterians from Michigan flying from Memphis to Gulfport yesterday. It was yet another work detail coming to help with the cleanup in Biloxi, Gulfport, Waveland and other places. The ride down I-90 is still stunning to see all the huge buildings and churches quite literally gutted and the old southern houses destroyed. I felt less badly about seeing the casino boats demolished. The oddest sight of all was coming to Biloxi and there, like a gigantic Noah's Ark was the wreck of one of the casino's in the shape of the ark, resting next to a pier. One can imagine what it might be like if God had not promised to Noah not to destroy the world again by water. One has to look for rainbows amidst the rubble and choas on the coast.
And since all the media attention has been on New Orleans, much of the story in Mississippi has gone untold. Mississippi is of course the poorest state in the union, a solidly red state, which has been left red-handed and red in the face due to the lack of government response. Yet thankfully the church has seen its opportunity to stand up and try and do something about this major disaster which will take years to recover from. Thankfully many parts of the church are seeing their responsbilities to the rest of the body of Christ, as well as to the rest of humankind and doing something about it.
There are many heroic and moving stories to be told, but I will leave you with one that was telling and made the national news. Canadian Baptists, part of an organization called Grassroots have been in New Orleans rebuilding homes. The CNN reporter interviewed them and asked "What do you think of Mardi Gras"? Their response was succinct--- "no one needs to be getting drunk and acting in immoral ways to drown their sorrows and try and forget. We all need to get to work and help rebuild people's lives and homes."
Praise the Lord for such folks--- they have seen this disaster as an opportunity to be the hands of Christ even to those whom we may not think deserve it. It is what Jesus would have us do, and it is a good witness.