The Spirit After the Storm

Keith Rice and I with a family in Smithfield
On Saturday I spent a few hours helping clean up from the storm at a member’s house and another couple of hours checking on other situations in which we might be able to help in the coming week. It was not until Monday that I was able to join with the Birmingham Baptist Association and enter into some of the most devastated areas of our city.

There is no string of adjectives I can use that would adequately describe the scene, nor are there any words I could use that you have not already heard over and over again. All I can do is share my pictures, which, again, are not much different than any you have already seen. Nevertheless, I will submit my entry to the ever growing online album.

I would like to share my thoughts about involvement and how we continue to minister going forward:

1. The Body of Christ is awesome. In times like these you realize how significant the gospel is and how the Holy Spirit truly unites His people. The depth of cooperation and love right now between the churches cannot be duplicated by any other entity or organization. I hope this continues long past the storm.

all that's left is the inside steps
carpet is wrapped around the tree
2. The storm was an incredible tragedy, but the greatest tragedy will be if we simply clean up and move on. This is an incredible opportunity for us as a people to seek the face of God and experience revival. Over the past few days I have prayed with people at gas pumps, in driveways, and in living rooms that no longer have ceilings and walls. The gospel is flowing through the streets right now.

3. This week will not be the end of it. It will take months and months for us to erase the marks of the storm. The rescue phase is over. Recovery of possessions is winding down. The rain yesterday may have indeed ended this phase. Demolition and rebuilding are next. These are the phases that will be most costly, especially for those who are uninsured. It costs us little to nothing to use a rake, carry furniture, or use a chainsaw; but to rebuild homes is going to be astronomical. For the church, the next phases of the project will have to be less general and more specific. Instead of moving into areas, the church will have to move into families, adopt them and walk with them in the months to come.

4. The parasites are coming. In working with victims of Katrina I heard story after story of fraud and corruption. Looters are cowards without a heart. They are thoughtless and heartless. The people who are coming next are calculated, charming, cunning con-artists. They will deliberately prey upon people’s emotions and sense of desperation. I don’t know how to go about this, I know the local law enforcement community will do all they can to prevent this from happening, but somehow the church and all of our surrounding neighbors need to come together as an antibody against the parasites. There are many people who are devastated by the storm now. When the parasites come and con them out of what money they had for recovery, the word devastation will not be adequate enough to describe the subsequent hopelessness. We need to educate ourselves and then educate one another on the schemes of the parasites.’

5. I appreciate our governor. I saw a brief portion of his speech yesterday, and like everyone else I have seen his leadership night after night. This is a man who unashamedly loves the Lord, quotes Scripture, and cares about people. We need to pray for him. He must be tired.

There is an awful scar in Alabama right now, but a wonderful spirit that I have not experienced before. Surely it will last until football season – after that, who knows! In any event, I love watching the Body of Christ at work. It is inspiring to me and I know it is an incredible witness to others.


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