A mighty fortress is our God

lakeshoreroadwalk

I preached Psalm 46 today. Although the building we used to call our “church sanctuary” lies in ruins, we know that God, our sanctuary, our strong shelter, our mighty fortress, never crumbles.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

– Mar­tin Lut­her, 1529

rebuildlakeshore.com

My friends from Grace Bible Church have launched a new web site, rebuildlakeshore.com. Check it out.

rebuildlakeshore.com

Speaking of new web sites, Stand to Reason just revamped their online presence. I have not had the online time necessary to explore it, but I trust them enough to point everyone to their ministry. “Stand to Reason trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.

Blessings of Blogging

When I dove into the blogosphere back in January I said,

I doubt I’ll make much of a splash, but want to use this site to record some of my thoughts, highlight my interests, chronicle my studies, and interact with the world outside of my little pool. I look forward to the new adventure.

Little did I know that the plunge would serve to send waves of support in the wake of the worst natural disaster in American history. God’s hand of providence works all things to his glory – even the blogging urge of a simi-recluse Ph.D student. I’ve talked to more people from around the country in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last six years.

Since the storm I’ve only been able to mention a very small fraction of what God has been doing. I travel two hours from Lakeshore for internet access. Simply listing all the people who have come to help would prove impossible. It appears that most of our help has come through folks reading my blog and then offering to come get dirty in the local recovery effort. In the last couple of weeks we have had at least two wonderful groups who maintain blogs of their own.

An 8 man team from Chapel on the Hill of New Jersey gutted homes, cleared land, and other things. Check out Bill Breckenridge’s blog Chapelccino. While here, he made five audio blog entries:

Bill posted a few pictures when they got back to New Jersey and promises more, so keep checking his blog.

Bill’s wife, Donna-Jean, also maintains a well written blog, Liberty and Lily. She chronicled her husbands trip:

Donna-Jean found us through my friend Cindy Swanson’s blog. Thanks Cindy!

I’ve already mentioned my friend Nathan White and his blog. Nathan’s mom, Ann. also blogs. Apparently my wife and Nathan’s mom hit it off great. My wife Courtney has not stopped talking about her since they left last week and already looks forward to when she can make another visit. Ann made a few posts about their trip:

I also just found Stephen Ake’s blog. He tells about his Trip to Lakeshore and does a great job giving you a picture of a typical day on the church property.

I hope to have more pictures soon. It looks like I’m going to have to buy my Dad a new digital camera. I’ve been borrowing his and I cracked the view window. I’d also like to get a nice one for myself so that I can keep sharing images as progress moves forward. If you would like to contribute toward the purchase of a camera

or snail mail:

Pastor Don A Elbourne Jr
1451 Great Oak Drive
Baton Rouge,LA 70810

Water and Ice

Come and drink

For more great pictures, see Stephen Ake’s Hurricane Katrina photo gallery.

Our greatest need right now is to keep the water and ice flowing. With people still sleeping in tents awaiting their FEMA campers the Lakeshore community depends upon the ice and drinking water being distributed through EOC. As of yesterday the volunteers manning the distribution pod returned home. Either Lakeshore Baptist Church must find a volunteer staff of 4-5 people to man the pod daily for the next four weeks or the ice distribution will discontinue. We need your help.

This morning our team from New Jersey stepped in, but they must head home this afternoon. (I’ll try to post about these great guys later) We are trying to coordinate locals for the effort, but that proves more difficult than you can imagine. Our local people struggle to survive daily themselves, as they clean the ruined remains of their homes from their property, live in very difficult conditions, care for their children and try to bring their lives at least one step closer to normalcy.

We also need volunteers to sort the mountains of clothing we want to distribute to the community, volunteers to work our food and supply relief center, volunteers to work heavy equipment, volunteers to clear debris from property, and volunteers to do pretty much anything you can think of. If you would like to come down and lend a hand please contact our project coordinator, Greg London at (770) 402-3419.

Quonset Huts

Quonset Huts

This past Sunday, October 16, we began worshiping in our newly erected quonset hut. I gave a brief summery of our building plans in a previous post, A Place of Worship. My friend, Nathan White, posted his impressions of the Lord’s Day in Lakeshore. I was humbled by his account and I praise God that threw our weakness, the Lord proves himself strong. Nathan wrote:

The Lord’s faithfulness fails not, as many have seen the ‘new song’ of this pastor, many have seen the ‘established steps’ of this congregation, and many will ‘see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord’ because of it. Myself being among them.

Read Nathan’s full post: The Lord’s Day in Lakeshore.

Vic Geauthreaux

Vic Geauthreaux

Like many houses and camps near the gulf, Vic’s house sat atop 14 foot stilts. About a half mile from the beach, in the picture, Lynn, Vic, and I stand where wide wooden steps used to lead up to his front porch. A balcony walked all the way around both sides to a back porch. Vic has not cleared his property. Katrina left nothing to clear. The water didn’t simply push the house from its perch. It completely washed it away. We looked for miles for the remains of his house and found nothing but a few miscellaneous items. If you did not know a house stood there, nothing but the concrete drive way and wooden pillars suggest it. Vic, his wife Tammy, and Lynn live in tents while they await their long promised FEMA camper and make plans on where to go from here.

A Place of Worship

For the first five weeks after the storm Lakeshore Baptist Church held Sunday worship services on the rough cement slab where our church building used to sit. We enjoyed the shade of a blue tarp for three of those weeks as we sought encouragement and strength from the preached Word. Habakkuk 3:1-19, Luke 7:11-17, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and Psalm 57 gave us hope in our sovereign God who never fails.

We have now erected a couple of 24X50 air-conditioned quonset huts. One serves our food and clothes distribution and the other as a multipurpose structure. We packed about 80 people into it for this past Sunday’s worship service. I preached Psalm 40:1-3. During the week, rotating volunteer teams will use the building as a make-shift dormitory.

First Baptist Church of Clinton LA and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Boca Raton FL have partnered together to provide a temporary building while we construct our permanent facilities. Lord willing, they will put up a 36X90 metal building on our church property in the next 4-6 weeks.

FBC Gaffney SC has offered to head up the planning and construction of our permanent facilities. Before the storm we had been looking to build a 3,500 sq ft. fellowship hall and educational space to replace our cramped buildings. My sister, an interior designer is using those sketches to layout a floor plan for the all new structure which will put the sanctuary, fellowship hall, Sunday School classes, nursery, bathrooms, kitchen, and office all under one roof. If Mrs. Juanita is reading this from Virginia – yes, we plan to include plenty of closet and storage space. :)

God has reinforced to us that the church doesn’t need buildings to fulfill its purpose of magnifying and marveling at His magnificence and glory. At the same time He has shown us that buildings do sure serve as handy tools in the fulfillment of our chief end. As we move from a shadeless piece of concrete, to a blue tarp, to a quonset hut, to a metal building, to a fully equipped beautiful new facility, we pray that we will continue to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

The Hurricane of 1915

Lakeshore Baptist Church began in 1911 in the home of R. C. Crysell. Shortly after erecting a church building a hurricane pounded our community leaving the structure in ruins. Ninety years later we find ourselves in a similar situation. Like then, the generosity of fellow believers came to our assistance to rebuild and move forward to the glory of God. The following article appeared in the Alabama Baptist paper in November of 1915.

Church Destroyed By Storm

November 4, 1915

Many will regret to hear that our mission church at Lakeshore was destroyed by the recent storm upon the coast. Its history reads like a novel. It was organized by only a few members, under the leadership of Rev. Buchanan, who, no doubt, was killed, as he mysteriously disappeared. They were greatly opposed and persecuted by the Roman Catholics.

After Mr. Buchanan’s death, the little band was like sheep without a shepherd until Brother McCardle and another minister started the work again and succeeded in securing several members among whom was a Roman Catholic who was baptized, regardless of the many threats made. Then again for several months they had no pastor, yet kept busy erecting them a house of worship. Our State Board came to their rescue by sending the writer to them as pastor and assisting them some upon their house of worship. We found only thirteen members, many of whom were children waiting our arrival. God alone knows our struggles yet within six months after arriving, our number had grown above thirty members, several being heads of Roman Catholic families. Owing to the combined opposition of the Roman Catholic priests and a Methodist minister who was recently killed by a train enroute there, the work has had but little growth since, save they have been holding the fort for God’s glory. Brother and Sister R. C. Crysell, who have done so much for the church, paid the balance of debt upon the building just before the storm. This they did by great sacrifice. Some of God’s most faithful on earth are among its members. Many of these have come into the Baptist church under great persecution. They occupy one of the greatest missionary fields on earth, being the only Baptist church on the L. & N. railroad east of New Orleans, for a distance of fifty miles, surrounded by Catholicism and the godless atmosphere of the coast. No place is in greater need, yet today their building lies flat upon the ground with their organ and seats broken, yet criticized no doubt by their godless and merciless persecutors.

Shall the Baptists of Mississippi see the good work they have so gloriously begun now stop and progress be hindered forever, or will they go at once to their rescue? No doubt God put it into the heart of our editor to make that noble appeal for Roman Catholic territory which he made just before the storm. Here is your opportunity! The land is before you. Will you possess it? To delay is half to fall! Although we are in another state, we desire to join God’s faithful in Mississippi who are upon the firing line to send a prayer meeting or Sunday School offering to those dear saints who are in so great need. However small the offering from each may be, if given by each church, we all shall share the victory even from the jaws of defeat.

Brother pastors and superintendents, our people will gladly respond if given an opportunity. Will we do it for Jesus’ sake? God grant we shall! God bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Carl M. O’Neal
Luverne, Alabama

Like then, we plan to rebuild and continue ministering and proclaiming the glorious gospel of God’s sovereign grace to the residence of the Mississippi gulf coast. With your help we can erect new church facilities that will expand the good work God accomplishes through the church at Lakeshore to his glory. You can send contributions to our new building fund to:

Lakeshore Baptist Church
1451 Great Oak Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Grace Partners

If you followed my blog before the storm, you might recall a couple of controversial entries concerning “Johnny Hunt on Election” and a follow up entitled “Johnny Hunt, Election, and Mathew 18.” Through those discussions I met Nathan White, a member of Grace Bible Church near Atlanta. When his pastor, Dave Stephenson, expressed an interest in their church helping a sister church hit hard by Katrina, Nathan pointed them to us.

Wasting no time, the church loaded a truck with much needed supplies and sent Greg London to Lakeshore. Greg has become my right hand in the recovery efforts. He has already made three trips and plans to be here again tomorrow morning with another team from Grace Bible Church.

Nathan and Pastor Dave came down last week. Nathan posted to his blog before coming down and then again after his Trip to Lakeshore. His buddy Colin accompanied the team and you can also read Colin’s account. They have several pictures, so check out their sites.

Sisters Baptist Church

Dan Hodges

Help has flooded in from all directions. Last week we had two church teams from Georgia, one from Texas, and another from Kansas. Later I will try to post in greater detail about these wonderful folks. This morning I’d like to mention one of our earliest contacts after the storm. Dan Hodges, former Director of Missions of the Washington Baptist Association of GA and current interim pastor of the Sisters Baptist Church of Sandersville GA traveled down to offer assistance. Hodges stressed to me the fact that he is not retired, just retreaded. :)

btw, Bro. Hodges found us via my long time online friend Richard Dickson, who serves as Interim Associate Pastor for Sisters Baptist Church. I know Richard through the SBC-D discussion group.

Sisters Baptist Church,

Hurricane Katrina hit Lakeshore Baptist Church hard. She took our church buildings and almost all of our church member’s homes. Even with such a devastating blow, we know that Christ proves himself stronger than any storm. The body of Christ has come to our aid in overwhelming ways. We especially thank God for the Sisters Baptist Church. Your financial assistance lightened our financial burden and enabled us to continue ministering in the greatest time of need. We praise God for Dan Hodges, Grady, and George who made the long trip down to meet us face to face and provide physical help even before most of our church family were able to return to the area. We believe your timely response and gifts magnified the Lord our Provider. Lakeshore Baptist Church extends our gratitude and thanks. Please remember us in prayer as we move forward to the glory of God.

Pastor Don A. Elbourne Jr.
Lakeshore Baptist Church
Lakeshore MS

Dan Hodges

Dan Hodges