This past week was the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming onto the shores of the Gulf Coast.
For those of us who were in Allison Creek 10 years ago it was not New Orleans or Louisiana that we were called to go to. I can’t remember why we ended up going to Pass Christian, Mississippi. I think it was hearing reports that Mississippi was in need and we contacted the presbytery there. Then an initial group from this church organized and off they went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There was a sense in the church at that time that we were called to go. That God wanted us to go. A voice that told the rest of us that we needed to go. And as I look back to the weeks following Hurricane Katrina I am amazed at the number of people that responded out of this church. People that gave up their vacations and people that invested their money.
We here at Allison Creek ended up coordinating 4 trips to the Gulf Coast.
Trip #1 was a trip to muck out houses. We took tents and slept behind the little Presbyterian Church in Pass Christian. Pass Christian, Mississippi was a small community along the gulf coast. When we arrived it was hard to fathom the devastation that we encountered. And the stories. If I remember correctly one family had a hot tub in their yard that had come from a house 3 miles away. In fact, I think it was from a relative’s house but I could be wrong on that.
On that first trip we were assigned to enter into a house and just clean out everything that was in it. I remember being in one house and working on the second floor and finding dead fish. On the second floor. That first trip meant a lot of removal of junk.
The big mission trip for this church to Mississippi occurred a couple of months later over the Christmas holidays. “Hope from the Carolinas” we called it.
We had over 50 people attend that mission trip. But what was truly spectacular about that trip was that the 50 plus people included people from this church and people from outside of this church. We had people that heard that we were organizing this trip and so they kept contacting the church asking if they could be a part. I remember Mark Sleeper painting on the back of his trailer “Mississippi or bust.” You can still see those words on the back of that trailer.
On a gas stop on the way someone saw that trailer and asked if we were going to help with Katrina relief. That complete stranger then handed Mark at least $100 in cash. We never had to pay for gas because we had lots of gas cards that had been donated to us. The more we did for others the more resources that were provided from out of nowhere.
Folks in this church caught a vision 10 years ago of being a place where the folks inside the church and folks in the community could come together and do ministry together. Sounds very similar to what is happening all over again.