In the Sun Herald

The Sun Herald newspaper did a story on Lakeshore last week.

Banding together like never before
By PETE TATTERSALL

LAKESHORE – What Hurricane Katrina did

The Lakeshore Baptist Church and a local school, Gulfview Elementary, are the two primary points of distribution where locals can find food and supplies. The area nearby lies in a state of disrepair, with houses heavily damaged and, in many cases, moved completely off their foundations.

The world is still upside down here.

Houses sit mere inches from the roadside, displaced from their foundations on the opposite side of the street. Trees are still littered with debris. The local church steeple is all that remains of the house that God built. And Tammy Kern and her three kids still rely on a bucket when nature calls.

But there is hope. In many ways, the people of this southwestern Mississippi coastal community have banded together like never before.

“Everybody realizes they can’t make it on their own. We’ve all pulled together, and realized that we also had to rely on people outside, too,” said the Rev. Don A. Elbourne Jr. of Lakeshore Baptist Church.

With hope and a bit of luck, a metal, fixed-structure building will soon replace the Quonset hut that now serves as both a place of worship and a temporary shelter. And a place of refuge, both spiritually and mentally, is what a lot of folks are seeking. While the church had an average Sunday attendance of about 50 members before Katrina, that number has since doubled, according to Elbourne.

“Daily needs still need to be met. Because everything’s gone in Lakeshore. But there’s also the less tangible, like being able to find a place that doesn’t look like a hurricane came through it,” Elbourne said, as he turned in a slow circle. “Because everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, you’re reminded that there’s destruction all around you.”

The help from outside the community has been immeasurable, said Elbourne, primarily from churches spread all over the country.

“My phone rings all day, with people saying what do you need, when can we come?” he said.

And while FEMA still supplies water and ice to the local populace, it is residents like Jeni Ward and her husband, Mart, who volunteer to staff the point of distribution. In this case, that’s Gulfview Elementary School, about a half mile down the road from Lakeshore Baptist Church.

“The community has definitely come together. For the past three or four weeks, we’ve had nothing but locals manning that distribution center themselves,” said Jeni Ward. “So it’s been amazing. All I did was put a sign, and they sign up and show up and do what they’re supposed to do. And quite a few of the volunteers are dependent upon it themselves.”

The demographics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, most of the people living on or near Lakeshore Road in Hancock County are white. Most of the homes in the census tract that includes the road are valued at less than $100,000, although 25 percent are valued at between $100,000 and $150,000. The tract has a median household income of $33,353.

The Sun Herald this month is running a series, which we will continue to update as South Mississippi recovers.

During November, we will look at a different community each day and see how it was affected by Hurricane Katrina. Our 30 Communities in 30 Days series will look at how these communities are coping and coming back. We will update these stories every six months.

Jennifer Garcia looks for food at the Lakeshore Baptist Church relief tent. Garcia was married at the church, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The Rev. Don Elbourne Jr., right, talks with Jeni and Mart Ward of Lakeshore and Ben Sims, second from left, of Salem, Ore., at the relief complex set up at Lakeshore Baptist Church, which has become a hub for relief efforts.

Christmas in Lakeshore

When hurricane Katrina pounded Lakeshore, leaving nothing but rubble and debris, most residence could not even bring themselves to try to imagine Christmas four short months later. A week or so after the storm, one man even told me, as he looked around at the the debris of our ruined church buildings, “we can’t have Christmas in this.”

With the tireless energetic passion God has placed in the heart of Pam Lackey from Grace Bible Church, Christmas in Lakeshore proves to be an exciting time of impossible provision pointing to the goodness and grace of our sovereign God. Let Pam give you a glimpse of what she has planned:

Undeniably, God is doing a great work in Lakeshore and if you are reading this web site you’d like to be a part of that great work, too.  Christmas in Lakeshore will not resemble what was but what God can do in His Sovereignty this year.  The following is a sketch of our plan for Lakeshore’s Christmas:

  • We will set up a free gift center modeled after a store. Parents may then pick out toys for their children and put them on lay-a-way until Christmas Eve. 
  • As the parents leave, they will be given tabletop Christmas trees, a box of decorations, and a wreath with a hanger, Christmas stockings, a container of Cookies in a Jar and a small battery-powered CD player with a Christmas CD.
  • The parents will choose gifts cards from one of the following for their teenagers:  Goody’s, Best Buy and Old Navy.
  • Coffee, hot cider and Christmas goodies will be served to the parents as they shop.
  • While the parents are shopping, their preschool and elementary children will be attending a Christmas Party Workshop.  The children will be making Christmas crafts, using coupons to redeem inexpensive gifts for their parents while helpers assist in wrapping their gifts for them.
  • On Christmas Eve, the parents will pick up the lay-a-way gifts, teenager gifts cards and also be given Super-Wal-Mart gift cards for themselves. In addition to the gifts, they will receive a pre-cooked honey baked ham or a pre-cooked turkey and a box containing all the ingredients for a Christmas dinner.  We would also like to send each family home with an electric fry skillet and a crockpot.

Visit rebuildlakeshore.com for more information on how you can be a part of this exciting holiday season relief and recovery effort to the glory of God.

Contact: Pam Lackey
Home: (678) 880-0157
Cell: (678) 860-0448
email: plackey@alltel.net

A Bigger Tent

big tent

Last week I mentioned our crowded quonset. The next Sunday, November 20, we packed 120 metal folding chairs into the tight space and they tell me that at least 40 more people lined the outside of the fabric building to listen in through the walls. Dave Stephenson, of Grace Bible Church, (see Grace Partners) preached Hebrews 4:14-16 and we enjoyed a fish fry after the service. With our Sunday attendance growing exponentially, we knew we needed a bigger tent.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention helped us locate a church willing to rent a 40X80 tent for a couple of weeks while we await the arrival of our 38X90 metal building kit. A church in Maryland provided the funds and the big top went up on Wednesday, just in time for our Thanksgiving festivities.

We held a moving prayer service at 9:00 am were churches from Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia, California, Missouri and elsewhere gathered around our local folks in prayer. At 11:00 Steve Mullins from Sawgrass Fellowship led us in worship and I preached 2 Corinthians 4.

After the service we moved tables in for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. The kids made crafts and wore themselves out playing in one of those big inflatable bounce things. From beginning to end we had a great day yesterday. We continue to stand amazed as God opens wide the flood of His merciful blessings upon us for His names sake.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4: 13-15

big tent

big tent

big tent

Thanksgiving in Lakeshore

We have done all the measurements and concluded that Thanksgiving Turkeys just don’t fit in a FEMA camper oven. While memories of past Thanksgiving meals in homes now swept away by hurricane Katrina will no doubt bring some sentimental tears, we rejoice at the abundance of grace and provision that God continues to pour out on our storm ravaged community.

In the tradition of the first Thanksgiving, Lakeshore Baptist Church will gather at 9:00 am on the last Thursday of November to render thanksgiving to our Almighty God for all His blessings. We will begin with a short prayer service at 9:00 followed by crafts for the kids and other things. At 11:00 we will hold a full worship service with the preaching of God’s Word leading us to magnify the goodness and glory of God, our supreme treasure. We will enjoy an authentic pilgrim Thanksgiving feast catered by West Congregational Church of Haverhill Massachusetts.

To All Ye Pilgrims

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

–A Thanksgiving Proclamation Attributed to Governor William Bradford

Connected

Before the storm I dreamed about a day when our new fellowship hall could serve as a coffee shop like community gathering place, complete with an internet connection. Its not exactly what I envisioned, but now thanks to the good folks at Radio Response, we now have internet access at the Lakeshore Baptist Church property. We don’t have comfortable couches, or even a building yet, but we serve as a wifi hot spot and if you stop by my camper or the quonset hut, I may even have some coffee brewing.

The foundation of my hope

May not the Sovereign LORD on high,
Dispense His favours as He will,
Choose some to life while others die,
And yet be just and gracious still?
Shall man reply against the LORD,
And call His Maker’s ways unjust,
The thunder of whose dreadful word
Can crush a thousand worlds to dust?
But, O my soul, if truths so bright
Should dazzle and confound thy sight,
Yet still His written will obey,
And wait the great decisive day!

God’s ways are just, His counsels wise,
No darkness can prevent His eyes;
No thought can fly, nor thing can move,
Unknown to Him that sits above.
He in the thickest darkness dwells,
Performs His work, the cause conceals,
But though His methods are unknown,
Judgement and Truth support His Throne.
In Heaven and earth and air and seas,
He executes His firm decrees;
And by His saints it stands confessed,
That what He does is ever best.
Wait then, my soul, submissive wait,
Prostrate thyself before His awful seat,
And midst the terrors of His rod,
Trust in a wise and gracious God.

Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God hath given,
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to Heaven.
The Sovereign will of God alone
Creates us heirs of grace
Both in the image of His Son,
A new peculiar race.
Thus quickened souls awake and rise
From the long sleep of death;
On heavenly things they fix their eyes,
And praise employs their breath.

How oft have sin and Satan strove,
To rend my soul from Thee, my God,
But everlasting is Thy love,
And Jesus seals it with His blood.

The Gospel bears my spirit up,
A faithful and unchanging God,
Lays the foundation of my hope,
In oaths and promises and blood.

Not as the world, the Saviour gives:
He is no fickle friend;
Whom once He loves, He never leaves,
But loves him to the end.
Though thousand snares enclose his feet,
Not one shall hold him fast;
Whatever dangers he may meet,
He shall get safe at last.

The spirit that would this truth withstand,
Would pull God’s temple down,
Wrest Jesus’ sceptre from His hand,
And spoil Him of His crown.
Satan might then full victory boast,
The church might wholly fall;
If one believer may be lost,
It follows, so may all.
But Christ in every age has proved,
His purchase firm and true;
If this foundation be removed,
What shall the righteous do?

– Christopher Ness (ca. 1700)

A steeple of hope

steeple of hope

A steeple of hope in battered Gulf Coast

By PAMALA K. McCARVER, Special to The Californian

Six weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, I traveled to Mississippi to meet my husband, who was a part of the FEMA operation center at Stennis Space Center.

Stennis Space Center is a main center for relief workers who were assembled immediately after the hurricane with the primary mission of supplying shelter, water, ice and food.

The operation’s center was approximately 20 miles from the beach community of Lakeshore, Miss. This part of the Gulf Coast was hit the hardest by the impact of Katrina.

The water damage to the homes located inland was extensive. Piles of damaged property littered the highway, and cars and boats were randomly tossed in all directions along the roadside. Hundreds of bare trees were either uprooted or snapped in half due to the battering winds.

The homes along the coast had simply been blown away or washed into the ocean. There were complete blocks of emptiness, as if these homes had never existed. Piles of rubble covered treasured family possessions. Dead power lines draped trees and covered the streets. Trees were littered with personal possessions.

A feeling of hopelessness and despair permeated the community. Even the toughest veterans of disasters could not escape the shock and horror of the pain these families experienced daily. Many families chose to remain on their property in small tents or trailers, probably because they had nowhere else to go. Some were not ready to leave what they had spent a lifetime building.

The scenes of devastation had become unbearable for me, and I randomly turned up a street to leave the town. As I looked up, I could not believe what I saw: Positioned upright on the side of the road was a solitary white church steeple next to where a church once stood. Behind the steeple was a temporary shelter made out of blue plastic tarps.

On one side was a food bank. On the other side was a meeting room for the community to gather and share their stories. Attached to the steeple was a sign:

Lakeshore Baptist Church
6028 Lake Shore Road
Pastor Don Elbourne

I stopped and talked with a young woman named Courtney Elbourne, the pastor’s wife. The Elbournes had lost their home, but this did not stop them and their community from continuing on with their lives.

Courtney reminded me that their community had nothing to do with buildings, rather a lot to do with relationships, and that true giving does not come from what we have — rather, giving from the depths of what we do not have. The people of Lakeshore Baptist Church had very little, but what they did have, they shared with others.

The steeple is a beacon of hope for a community struggling to rediscover its future. If you would like to know more about Lakeshore Baptist Church or assist them in serving the people of the Gulf Coast, they can be found at www.lakeshorebaptist.net or write them at 1451 Great Oak Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70810.

— Pamala K. McCarver is a registered nurse at San Joaquin Community Hospital who lives in Tehachapi. Her husband, Randy, is a captain with the Kern County Fire Department.