The summer is in full swing here on the Mississippi gulf coast. Our good friends Joey and Julie Gilbert are here again ministering to countless folks in the area through sister churches. Their dedication to the Lord and His work continues to amaze me as they have poured years of their lives into our community for the cause of Christ. Their crew from Georgia have been busy doing Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps, and just loving on people in the name of Jesus. May God be glorified through their efforts and may the gospel take root for long lasting fruit, to the praise of His name.
As pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Monticello KY, Tommy Floyd led multiple teams to Lakeshore following Hurricane Katrina. His folks did an amazing job at building numerous homes in our area. They also worked on our new church building. We can not thank them enough for their service for the glory of God.
Bro. Tommy now serves as director of missions for the Pulaski Baptist Association in KY. His heart for missions continues to shine through. This week he is leading a team from their association to serve in Port Arthur, TX. They spent the night with us here in our bunk house this weekend as they travel to their mission trip destination. What a joy it is to partner with such mission minded people for the cause of Christ.
We have partnered with our Gulf Coast Baptist Association to host mission trips this summer that will serve our sister churches in Hancock County. From June 3 through July 26 teams will do backyard Bible Clubs, Mission VBS, door-to-door surveys and witnessing, servant evangelism, sports camps and science camps, construction or deconstruction, and more. To find out how your church group can be a part of this, check out the Partnership Gulf Coast website. We are the “west” housing option. The Lord has blessed us with our bunk house facilities and we pray they will continue to be used for His glory and the strengthening of His churches.
Long before Tiny Houses were a thing, we built one as part of our disaster relief volunteer houseing. Jamie Dunbar (now Jamie Rogers) designed the dwelling for her needs as she served the efforts here for 6 years. Her contributions were invaluable and the tiny house served as personal space amid the hustle and bustle of activity.
Now that Jamie has relocated back to Wisconsin, got married, and become a mother, the tiny house in Lakeshore sits empty. For the last couple of years we have been decommissioning the quonset huts and other makeshift structures around the property. While Katrina relief has ended, our main bunkhouse still serves as an active mission trip housing facility here on the gulf coast. The summer of 2018 calendar is filling up fast.
We need to relocate the tiny house closer to the bunk house, tie it into electricity and plumbing and re-open it for use. We are looking for someone to adopt this project. We built the 12’x12′ structure with moving it in mind. It sits up on concrete blocks and 6″x6″s. It could possibly be drug with a wench, using the 6″x6″s as skids, or jacked up onto a trailer, or any other idea the team that tackles it comes up with.
Would you, or someone you know, like to take on this project? We need to get it moved before the summer rush begins the first week in June. This would be a great spring break project. Contact us for more details.
Over 70 families participated in our “Grow Your Food” seminar this past Saturday. As an extension of our Mercy Ministry we sought to encourage and educate folks on how they could increase their food security through simple vegetable gardening. A trunk full of groceries went home with each household in attendance.
Every week I receive phone calls and visits from people requesting assistance because they have no food in their pantries. God’s good earth can produce an abundance of food for human flourishing, but unfortunately, that food is not always available to everyone. I want to change that. I believe that if we can motivate and educate families to do more home food production, our community will be the richer for it. I told the story of one family, with a small garden who calculated the value of their homegrown vegetables last year to be $1000. I floated the vision of 100 families doing the same in Hancock County. That’s $100,000 worth of extra food for our families, neighbors, and friends. No one should go hungry in America, much less on the bountiful Mississippi gulf coast.
I told about my personal successes in growing sweet potatoes, okra, and salad greens, as well as making our pepper jelly. Last year I turned 1 sweet potato into an entire wheelbarrow full with very little work. Okra is so prolific in our climate we ate it almost every day during the summer. Arugula, kale, and other salad greens flourished during the winter, even through our record breaking cold here on the gulf coast. We even made enough money selling pepper jelly last year to visit our son at the University of Massachusetts.
Our Mississippi State University Extension Agents, Christian Stephenson and Jennifer O’Banner, gave talks on the simplicity of growing valuable produce on a small scale with even very little work. For example, in this part of the country we all use bell peppers, onions, celery and garlic in our cooking. Bell peppers are particularly expensive at the grocery store, but all these items are easy to grow. Not only is growing your own food financially beneficial its healthier too and can taste great.
I’ve already received some very positive feedback on the event. One lady said she rushed straight to the store to purchase seeds after the class. Another sent me pictures of her seed treys in preparation for spring planting. I am excited about the potential. My wife and I will continue to expand our small garden next door to the church. You can keep up with what we are growing and future events like this on our Facebook page, “Lakeshore Gardens.” Please like our page and share this post.
What are you growing?
With the help of our Michigan friends, we completed a healthy list of projects for “Lakeshore Gardens” last week. We mulched the bananas at the Rebuild Lakeshore Bunk House, assembled and painted the bee hives, built a rabbit fence around the vegetable garden, double dug the raised beds, laid wood chips in the walking paths, sifted a years worth of worm castings, propagated longevity spinach, planted Mexican sunflowers, and began constructing a new chicken run.
My good friend pastor Bryan Schindel of Cross and Resurrection Church, Ypsilanti, MI, has made numerous mission trips over the years to Lakeshore. This year he made it a family trip, along with two other home school families in their church. What a treat it was to work with these energetic kids and their parrents. We had a great time of work and fellowship.
On Saturday, Brian Beech of Pass Isles Honey Company, gave us a talk on the fascinating world of beekepping. We learned some of the basics of how to care for these amazing creatures as well as some of their benefits, including honey and the pollination of our garden. The kids were full of questions and enjoyed the hands on experience of assembling the boxes and frames. We look forward to colonizing these hives in the spring.
I was also able to teach the kids about another fascinating creature that benefits the garden; the humble worm. I’ve been raising red wigglers for years. Worm bins take most of our kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, apple cores, wilted lettuce, etc and the worms transform it into beautiful black worm castings. Separating the good stuff from the yet to be consumed material requires sifting through a homemade screen. Some of the kids enjoyed it so much they spent nearly 2 hours, producing enough to fill three 5 gallon buckets that will go into the this years garden as rich, organic, homemade fertilizer.
The big idea behind “Lakeshore Gardens” is to promote gardening in our community, especially for food production. I need to make a full post here on the blog about the ministry vision, but I shared it with our Michigan friends and they caught it. I can’t thank them enough for pushing the project to the next level. This gives me hope that the endeavor will take root and bear fruit for the glory of God. To keep up with future progress, you can like our Facebook page, “Lakeshore Gardens.”
Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico hard, but the local pastors are up for the long task of recovery ahead. On my trip to the island last week I met men who have a strong resolve to see God glorified in their communities. The immense damage left in the wake of the storms may take years to overcome, but I was encouraged by the strength, determination, and vision of the local pastors. We need to stand beside these men, and their churches, as they stand up for the glory of God.
The most pressing need is power. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to expedite the power grid getting back online, but we can pray toward that end. As we traveled around we didn’t see many places with power. Electric lines were still mangled and hanging on the road and not until the last day of the trip did I see any power company trucks working. Estimates say that it may take over a year to get juice flowing again. In the meantime Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has equipped each church and pastor with a generator. I brought some solar powered USB battery chargers and power banks. It was a small thing, but they were greatly appreciated.
I stayed in the home of Pastor Brad Williams, a church planter from Texas. He served as a great host, despite the fact we didn’t have electricity or hot water. The water that we did have, had to be filtered for safe drinking. Brad has been in Puerto Rico for a couple years now and has earned the respect of his community. He is very fluent in Spanish and has been teaching English classes with great success. In this time of crisis he has been doing an excellent job in managing the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief warehouse. Food and supplies flowing through the North American Mission Board get pushed out to churches across the island. Some churches are able to come pick up supplies and we were able to deliver to others.
I found several church buildings in need of repair. In God’s good providence, none were completely destroyed, but they did receive extensive roof damage. The storm pealed all the metal off the roof of one of the churches and the entire roof needs to be replaced. Like many structures in Puerto Rico, another one of the churches I met with, has a flat roof that suffered damage. These types of roofs need to be patched, coated, and sealed. If anyone with experience with these kinds of things would like to make a mission trip, let me know and we will work to make it happen.
I can’t thank Mateo Malendez enough for inviting me to tag along on this first trip. He has been making mission trips and building relationships across Puerto Rico for the last several years. He is well connected there and well loved by everyone we came in contact with. The networking he has established is proving invaluable during the relief, recovery, and rebuilding process.
I wish I could tell you about each of the pastors I met this week and their amazing stories. To do so would take a full length book. For now, let me just ask you to pray for them, along with their people. They have a rough road ahead.
This is not the last you will hear about Puerto Rico. I am determined to persevere in prayer for these men I met this week as they minister to their communities for the sake of the gospel. Let us stand beside Puerto Rico as they stand up for the glory of God.
I’m reaching out to my Rebuild Lakeshore friends for help on behalf of those in Puerto Rico suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Since I know what it is like to go through a massive hurricane, I will be traveling to the island in a couple weeks, to meet with several pastors and church planters. Please pray for my trip, that God would be glorified, and the people there will be strengthened. If you might be interested in helping financially with this, please visit my GoFundMe page for more details. Thank you so much!
Our great friends from St. Mary’s in Massachusetts held a Bake Sale fund raiser for the Mercy House. Under the gracious leadership of Bob Whitting, they raised $250 for the cause. We can not thank them enough and look forward to seeing them again for their annual trip next August.
The Mercy House is a ministry of Lakeshore Baptist Church that provides benevolence assistance to our community here on the Mississippi gulf coast. We rely on physical donations of food, clothing, and house hold items and distribute them to people in need. We are able to touch over 200 families a month because of this kind of generous support.
Not only is Lakeshore a mission trip destination, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey we have also become a mission trip rest area for those traveling to the Texas gulf coast. This week our good friend Lee Carter led a team to the Houston area to do mud out work in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. They broke up the long drive back and forth from South Carolina by spending the night with us here at the Lakeshore bunk house. They also shuttled relief supplies, that we had collected here, and delivered them to the affected area.
We praise God for dedicated folks like this who have made a lifestyle of disaster relief, going wear ever needed, and lending assistance. We sure appreciate their help after Katrina and we know that many lives were touched this week in Texas by their hard work and generosity.