I had a very interesting experience today that I have not had before. There were people who had fled New Orleans staying at a local college while they were waiting the storms out. They had been there since this weekend. Like most of people, I have always heard and seen on television the devastation that hurricanes bring, but I have never really seen it firsthand. Today, though I caught a brief glimpse of some of that devastation, not the physical damage but the emotional damage that is caused. A few of the local churches got together today and went and fed the evacuees from Gustav. I knew that it was going to be an interesting experience but I didn’t know just how much of an experience it was going to be.
One thing I noticed was the congestion of it all. There were 150 or so people all living in the area about the size of a high school basketball court. There were rows and rows of cots right beside each other with only about a three foot aisle separating them from their neighbor. These were people who, from what we were told by the Red Cross volunteers, were told to get your family and your bags and get on a bus. No real choice of where to go or who to go with. On top of this they were taken to an area where they were placed in one large room where they would live for the next few days. There also was a large variety of age groups as well. I saw little babies up to probably 80 or 90 year olds. Who had no idea what shape their house was in. They didn’t know if they had a job when they got back. They didn’t know how most of their families were, save for those who were with them. And after I stopped and thought about it I realized you know the least thing we could have done was to provide them with a meal.
Then I think about the great Judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46. And I wonder are we doing all we can to fulfill the statements that are made there in those verses. And it has caused me to do a real internal thinking about am I doing all I can to help those in need around me?
The other part wonder about is am I doing it so that they can see Christ or doing it so that I can feel better? What I mean by this is that we were told that there was only one other church besides our three that worked that showed up to not just bring food but to stay and serve it. We were told that one church brought food to the center’s parking lot but would not go into the center with the people. They made the Red Cross Volunteers and the National Guard workers come out and carry the food in. That struck me as very un-Christ like. I will be honest one of the things I enjoyed most about today was seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they came by and got their food and drinks as we served them. And again I think about Christ when he walked this earth how he never told someone to do his work for him, but he was the one who went to the “untouchables” and reached out and touched them when no one else would.
One last thought, you may be wondering what good did you all do there for Christ? One we fed them when they needed it. But secondly we gave out brochures telling the people about who we were and what we believed. After it was over about 6-8 people came up to one of the other preachers and said they were going to look the Church of Christ up when they got back home. Also one of the volunteers from the local areas came up and ASKED for literature about our Church because NO OTHER church else came to meet a need. We may never know how many people we might have reached today for Christ, but one thing I do know, above and beyond it all, is that the Church of Our Lord and Savior got all the Glory, and that is most important to me.