Disaster Relief Evangelism

Lakeshore Road after Katrina
In the wake of hurricane Katrina, thousands of volunteers have flooded into our community to serve in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. From day one of the disaster we clamped onto a solitary overarching trust that God will work all things to his glory. In our first church service, I said, “we believe He will use this catastrophe to amplify the truth of His word and call many to anchor their hope in Him.” We still desire nothing more than to magnify the greatness of our God. By His mercy he allows us to continue participating in that grand purpose along with countless selfless volunteers from across the country.

Each week I urge our gracious teams to proclaim the gospel of grace in word and deed. As we provide help and hope to hurting people through hundreds of projects, let us never stray away from the shadow of the cross. If we rebuild someone’s home, reroof their house, wire the electrical, hang sheet rock, lay down flooring, paint the walls with fresh color, add trim, install the air conditioning, and all it takes to move a family from tents and campers into a beautifully renovated house and shut our mouths concerning Christ our supreme treasure, what have we done? We must accompany our benevolent actions with explanations of hope. Let us do more than provide folks a comfortable home to go to hell from.

When you stock the shelves of our food distribution center, speak of the greater storehouse of God’s sovereign mercy and grace. When you carry groceries to a families car, tell them of the boundless provision of Christ. In this blazing south Mississippi heat, when you offer them precious bottle water, urge them to turn from their broken cisterns that can hold no water, to the all satisfying fountain of living water who is Jesus Christ. When you gut a house, clean a yard, or remove storm debris, share Christ’s almighty ability to remove the grotesque debris of human sin. When you find someone’s storm soaked Bible amidst the rubble or replace their lost Bible with a new one, crack it open and proclaim the glorious gospel of grace. When you roll out tar paper and hammer down new shingles, herald the mighty fortress that is your God. When you pour a slab, or dig footers, or set floor beams, share how true “hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” When you pressure wash a house or roll out fresh paint, speak of the powerful cleansing effect of the blood of Jesus Christ that washes away sin. When you hang doors or hang sheet rock point to Jesus Christ who hung on the cross to pay the penalty of sin and make full atonement for all who believe. When you help storm victims replace their possessions, glory in the all satisfying treasure of Jesus Christ.

Above all pray that God will overpower rebellious hearts as He irresistibly draws the people of Lakeshore to Himself, so that they stand drop jawed, not at the unspeakable devastation wrought by Katrina, but at the wonder of a gracious God who rescues undeserving sinners. Understand that we can not coerce, manipulate, or trick people into new birth, only the effectual power of God opens blind eyes, unstops deaf ears, and pounds alive dead hearts to beat with faith in Christ. Know that God uses our feeble imperfect witness in His economy of grace. Trust that God will accomplished his chief end as he glorifies himself on the gulf coast. Rejoice that God’s goodness, grace, and renowned continues to overflow the levees of our making, to the praise of His name.

Grace Baptist Church

Ken Puls VBS
God acomplished a tremendous amount of work this past week through the sweat of all the teams with us here in Lakeshore. Folks from Georgia, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida joined us as we continued ministering to our storm ravaged community.. Tonight a fresh group from Kentucky roll in. As I’ve often noted on my blog, Its sometimes difficult to keep all the teams straight, much less thank them personally as they rightly deserve.

I beg forgiveness, once again, to point out one team among many., but I felt especially blessed to spend time with the Grace Baptist Church contingent. Their pastor, Tom Ascol stands tall as one of my heroes of the faith. I mentioned last Sunday that if I had to list a handful of the most influential pastors/ preachers/ theologians in my life over the past several years, Tom Ascol would rank right up there with Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul. His leadership through the Founders Ministry serves to mold my understanding of God and His church in Lakeshore. Last year I preached through Galatians and part of my weekly routine involved listening to Tom’s Galatians series, so I felt almost as if I had attended church right across the pew from the Cape Coral crowd.

Through the busyness I stole away a few moments to spend time with a few of these wonderful people. I can’t express the encouragement God granted me through sending them our way. One of my only regrets of the week is that I never captured a snapshot of the Ascol kids square dancing. 🙂

In addition to digging ditches for electrical conduit, removing storm debris, and a host of other labor intensive tasks, the folks from Grace Baptist led our successful Vacation Bible School this week. The gospel driven, Bible saturated Genesis 1 Space Probe blasted off each morning with a growing number of kids enjoying God’s exciting word. The Friday night commencement drew many parents, who had never been to our church property before, in to see what their kids had been doing throughout the week. They heard the gospel clearly presented by Ken Puls and I pray that God will use the activities of the week as he effectually calls many to Himself for His glory.

Brief June Update

The Lord continues to expand our scope of ministry as he sends us a steady stream of volunteers to rebuild our storm ravaged community. Nearly 10 months after hurricane Katrina slammed into the gulf coast, most of Lakeshore MS still looks like a carpet bombed war zone. Large machinery has removed thousands of tons of debris, but so much more needs to be done.

The new sound of pounding hammers and buzzing saws finally begin to join the ongoing roar of chain saws, the crunching of demolition equipment, and the beeping of relief supply forklifts.

We praise God for allowing us to be a part of hundreds of ongoing rehab and rebuilding projects. Several folks have moved into their homes after dozens of teams file through with house gutting crews, clean up teams, roofers, electricians, plumbers, sheet rock hangers and finishers, painters, finish carpenters, and helping hands of every sort.

One new construction project, begun this week, saw a widow’s footers being poured and the floor beams put into place. Mrs. Redford, a 76 year old Lakeshore Baptist Church member, with parkinson’s, rode out the storm with her dog. Miraculously she survived the ordeal but lost her home. We plan to build her a new 600 sq ft house.

We heavily rely on the volunteer crews that God sends our way. If you would like to plan a trip to Lakeshore to lend assistance, please call us at Lakeshore Baptist Church (228) 469-0110 to schedule a trip. also visit our web site rebuildlakeshore.com Monetary donations serve to fuel and feed our volunteer efforts and supply building materials for many of our projects.

Lakeshore Baptist Church
6028 Lakeshore Road PO Box 293
Lakeshore MS 39558


Iowa Team
Back in March, Mike Hain, Director of Youth Leader Connection, led a team from Iowa to Lakeshore. He reports:

My heart is full as I reflect on the blessings of God as He worked in and through us on our Xtreme Relief trip to Mississippi. It’s hard to put this kind of a trip into words, especially because of the overwhelming devastation that we saw due to the hurricanes of 2005. As many of you know, after returning from a mission trip, you find yourself periodically saying, “You had to have been there”. But maybe through the following brief report of our trip, you will at least get a small glimpse of how God used our team of 14 teens and 5 adults in this relief effort at Lakeshore, MS.

Driving into the area of Lakeshore was a shock, to say the least. We just couldn’t believe the damage that we saw, and the stories that we heard of destruction. It seemed like a war zone, as if a bomb had been dropped. Now the people are re-building their homes and their lives.

We stayed at the Lakeshore Baptist Church, which was sort of the hub for the relief effort for that community. There were temporary housing and portable facilities that volunteer groups like ours used while helping out. One of the greatest blessings to us was to hear the vision of that church: to use their resources to help their community re-build before they re-built their own church. What a Christ-like example of sacrifice and giving! It is apparent that God is using this attitude to give them numerous opportunities to share Christ with the community, including times when neighbors come on their property to receive food and water donations.

We decided as a group that our role in the relief effort would be to help out in any way we could. Basically, we asked those leaders that were coordinating the projects on campus and in their community what needed to be done, and we made a task list from that for our group. We did a variety of things including: painting, hauling, cleaning, cooking, loading, sorting donations, carpeting, and some demolition. At the end of the week, the pastor said that he had been encouraged by our group’s flexibility and willingness to do whatever needed to be done. What an encouragement to know that we had blessed them!

Our group enjoyed time with each other! After a long day’s work, we would hurry to the beach and then re-cap the day with our Bible study in Nehemiah. We also enjoyed a day at New Orleans, which was only an hour away. The 2-day bus ride to MS from Des Moines, IA also provided plenty of opportunities for memorable moments!

What did we learn from this experience?

I am grateful to Pastor Don Elbourne for speaking to our group of volunteers on Wed. night and articulating what he saw was the purpose of our being there. I felt this was exactly what we needed to hear! He challenged us to think past our being there just to do work projects or team up with others in this relief effort. He wanted us to look at the lives of the Christians in that community, and see their example. He spoke from 2 Cor. 1:3-11, and shared with us that just as Paul received comfort from God in his trials and suffering, so the people of Lakeshore were also receiving comfort in their trials. But not only for their sakes…but for ours as well. Don communicated that it was his desire for us to see their dependence on Christ, and apply this truth to our lives as we face suffering and trials or our own. He shared that this tragedy was worth it if their lives could be an example to others. I feel that this reality radically impacted our group, and I pray that it will stay with us forever.

Jeff Hill

Jeff Hill

Several churches from New Jersey have blessed Lakeshore through their continued prayer support, generous financial gifts, trucks of food, water, and supplies, as well as several work filled trips.

When Calvary Baptist Church of Carnypoint NJ schedule a trip, Pastor Jeff Hill and I were excited to learn that we both planned to attend the Together For the Gospel conference. We met up in Louisville and enjoyed a time of fellowship with other like minded pastors.

The next week Jeff led his team to Lakeshore and worked hard on several projects. I think they spent most of their time on the Patterson House. If you have been following my blog, Mrs. Violet plans to move back into her home this week. Lord willing, I will try to post pictures soon.

Jeff Hill's group

Going Bananas

Goind Bananas

Roughly 400 people flow through our food distribution center on a daily basis. As long as the need exists and donations pour in, we will continue meeting part of the grocery needs of our storm ravaged community. Now open Wednesday through Saturday the free store provides assistance to those trying to put their lives back together under very difficult living conditions.

Goind Bananas

Last week a generous truck load of bananas came in. Unlike canned food, we can’t set perishable food back in our regular canned food stock rotation. Fresh bananas need to move immediately. So not only did each family get a case of bananas, we set a pallet of bananas on the front porch on Sunday to distribute to all congregants. Even the volunteers have been eating bannana bread, bread pudding, and a variety of other banana recipes this week.

Goind Bananas

Come Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Come Mr. Tally Man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Huricane relief, in Lakeshore
(Daylight come and we fix da home)
Fix da man’s roof, and da man’s floor
(Daylight come and we fix da home)

Day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we fix da home)
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we fix da home)

Off the truck with da big bananas
(Daylight come and we fix da home)
Help da folks in da FEMA campa’s
(Daylight come and we fix da home)

6 foot, 7 foot, 8 foot bunch!
(Daylight come and we fix da home)
6 foot, 7 foot, 8 foot bunch!
(Daylight come and we fix da home)

Day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we can’t go home)
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we can’t go home)

Goind Bananas

Church Buildings – New and Old

Blue Tarp Church

Back in February, As we began thinking of rebuilding our destroyed church facilities, I attempted to open a discussion on Church architecture. See:

I had a glitch in my comments feature and lost all atempts to add feedback. Donna-Jean emailed me her reflections.

So good to read your thoughts on this topic – and I appreciated the Sweet article, too.

I see two (related) dangers in church architecture; rather, in the actual building itself. One is with existing buildings. It takes the current generation (and I’m speaking of those in the church now, spanning a range of ages, not just ‘young’) awhile to feel ownership of a building that’s existed for a long time. I recall telling others, “We’re the church. If this item doesn’t work for us, we get rid of it.” (I say that respectfully, believe it or not, knowing that the effective past generation did the same.)

Graven images (to me) have more to do with “Well, so and so donated that, so we have to keep it” or “We’ve always done it that way” than with actual images. For instance, having a good-sized room with three little tiny rooms off of it worked well when I was growing up – for the Primary Room’s opening exercises, and then the little sit-down classes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. But our kids now learn better with more space, more centers of activity, more interaction. So some walls in our church building have come down to make a bigger classroom or nursery, one old classroom is now a kids’ library with books/DVDs/videos and a welcoming librarian each week, some tiny classrooms are storage closets for costumes and props for outreach dramas/musicals, and some are now offices (mine, included 🙂 .

The other is about building a new building. I just finished reading Steve Saint’s “End of the Spear.” (I hate that the very unfortunate Chad Allen controversy would keep anyone from the book or the movie – which I’ve not seen yet. The book is very powerful. I pray, above all, that Chad Allen sees his need for Christ through his involvement in the film. But that’s another topic.) In it, Saint talks of how the Waodani (“Auca”) people let a church building in their village fall apart and be unused. (It was built during his Aunt Rachel’s ministry there.) He asked why – and it was because a) it was built differently than their usual ‘architecture’ and so they felt inadequate for it (and it wasn’t that ‘workable’ for their open-air living), and b) it was built by well-meaning outsiders so they felt it wasn’t ‘theirs’ to use, or to fix, when it began to deteriorate.

New buildlings need the ownership of its users – and part of that comes from their involvement in its planning, creation, and realization. As you benefit from the goodwill and sweat of ‘outsiders’ (and we are always chomping at the bit to be a part of that, we are committed to helping as long as God allows 🙂 your own people must never feel displaced, or somehow unworthy (even in their own overwhelmed situation) to be decision-makers.

I love the versatility a good church building can provide. We still have wooden pews in our sanctuary, and stained glass windows imported from its former site (before we came). We love its look. But we’ve also reconstructed the platform, removed the organ (when there was no longer anyone to play it, despite tireless attempts to find an organist, even from the outside), and cut a picture window in the narthex wall so people could see into its beauty as they enter. We’ve also turned our large downstairs area into a Narnia-decorated coffeehouse, rollerblading area, ladies’ tea room, men’s sportsmen’s dinner, or kids’ game night.

And it is thrilling to see our people realize this place is theirs, it’s their place to worship, weep, rejoice, pray, marry, grieve lost loved ones, praise God, eat together (we do a lot of that 🙂 , discuss, learn, laugh, and sometimes just hang out together with our kids. (And it’s also their place to fix when things go wrong. Just as it’s encouraged so many to realize they can ‘chainsaw for God’ in Lakeshore, it’s important for those in our church to know that fixing the running toilet and adding landscaping and changing light bulbs is ministry, too. They ‘get that,’ and are now enjoying the blessing of comraderie/fellowship that such work entails.)

Perhaps it’s not the best analogy, but on the TV sitcom “Cheers,” the song for that bar was about “where everybody knows your name.” There is something to be said for church being Oasis, Refuge, Shelter, Learning and Creativity Center, Refueling Spot, Training Grounds, Home.

I can’t wait to get to church, to see these people, and to bring others into this place. As a pastor’s daughter and pastor’s wife, I’ve known Christians’ quirks – and even their barbs – individually. But corporately, church can be a taste of heaven. I pray that for you and your church family as you continue in the Lord, whether out in the open, under a tarp, under a tent, in a quonset hut, under steel – or whatever design is next. You’ve been an inspiration.

Lakeshore Baptist Church is never far from our thoughts and prayers at Chapel on the Hill.

Shower Trailer

Mobile Wash House

Not long after Katrina had ravaged South Mississippi, an outreach group of folks from the First Baptist Church of Elkins, WV and the Rotary Club from the same city ended up at the Lakeshore Baptist Church on the western side of Waveland, MS. Although the church was completely destroyed, there´s a slab there, the people of that church were playing host to volunteer workers from the North. The only facilities were tents to sleep in and portable toilets for use by the volunteers.

Not anymore! On May 1, 2006, another form of aid left Elkins, WV for the Hurricane Katrina devastated area in Mississippi. A retired 48-foot, over-the-road trailer, that had spent its ‘productive´ years as a ‘reefer´ operated by a dairy company and later converted into a combination bath facility and laundry mat, will now serve the army of relief workers who continue to help Mississippi residents recover from their devastation with a place to bathe and do their laundry.

The trailer is the brainchild of Elkins Rotary Club Vice President Dwayne Hannah. “One of the first things that became apparent when I visited the area not long after the hurricane was that the volunteers down there helping those folks did not have a place to wash their clothes, and still worse, had no bathroom facilities except portable toilets,’ Hannah said. “Something had to be done to help the relief workers as they helped the victims.’ Hannah explored ideas that would provide the relief workers a means of sanitary toilet and bathing facilities and at the same time give them a place to wash their clothes. He struck upon the appropriate idea of a “mobile wash house.’

In December, Hannah contacted several trucking companies asking if they might have an old trailer that could be donated and used as the foundation of his idea. Broughton Dairy of Parkersburg, WV, donated an old refrigerated trailer that had hauled milk and other perishable dairy products to grocery stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The

dairy company moved it from Marietta, Ohio, to Williamstown, WV where Elkins Distributing Co. picked it up and brought it to the Elkins/Randolph County Airport. Airport Authority officials gave Airport Manager Dick Chaney permission to provide an aircraft hangar for

the restoration work. After four months of volunteers working 12- to 16-hour days and at a cost of nearly $40,000, the wash house was ready for service.

On May 1, Steve Felton, owner and operator of Triple S Trucking in Mill Creek, WV departed for Lakeshore, MS, where the mobile wash house will enter service. The Rotary Club of Wiggins, MS, paid for the $2,000 transport fee. The mobile wash house was delivered to the Club President Jere Hess on May 3. “Having the mobile wash house is better than having a place to sleep. People can sleep in a tent, but they have to have baths and there is no place to take one,’ Hess said. “A water hose just doesn´t do the job for people working in the heat and humidity we have down here. They also need a decent place to go to the bathroom. Portable

toilets don´t get the job done either. Now they will also have a place to do their laundry. The wash house will be a great boost to morale, and help speed the recovery efforts. We don´t know how to thank the members of the Rotary Club of Elkins, volunteers and donors for what they´ve done for us, and even if we did, we couldn´t thank them enough.’

The wash house is equipped with two bathrooms. The ladies´ room has a toilet, two shower stalls and a dressing area, while the men´s room has a toilet, urinal, two shower stalls and a dressing area. The center area contains two combination washer/dryers, a utility wash basin and houses the hot water heater. The dryers are operated by natural or

propane gas, which also heats the facility when needed. The trailer is equipped with air conditioning and exhaust fans that keep the wash

house cool and well ventilated. The wagon is equipped with an attached entrance stairway, landing platform and handrails that fold for storage and transport against the wagon´s underbelly. Utility hook-ups are also provided from the wagon´s underbelly.

Restoration work was under the day-to-day supervision of Roy Crickard.

Bobby Hutton of REH Construction supplied manpower and other resources for electrical, plumbing and carpentry work. Hannah Engineering provided structural engineering and outside graphics design. Rob´s Custom Graphics painted the outside decals. Mary Hannah,

Clint Hannah and Jeff Harvey donated their time for cleaning chores. Tim Sprouse volunteered his time and resources for welding.

Rotary officials said that when the wash wagon is no longer needed in Mississippi, it will be returned to Elkins and put on standby for service anywhere in the country it might be needed.

“We hope the wash house will never have to be used again, but if it is, and unfortunately it will, it will be ready to serve,’ Hannah said.

Elkins Rotary Club President Grace Roy said the project has received donations from many social organizations and churches from around the state of West Virginia. The club also assumed a rather large loan from Mountain Valley Bank to expedite the project´s completion.

Tax deductible donations are being accepted and may be made by contacting Dwayne Hannah, at Hannah Engineering, P.O. Box 2050, Elkins, W.Va. 26241 or by calling (304) 636-7777.

Dewayne Hannah is a graduate of Civil Engineering from West Virginia University. Jere Hess is an MBA graduate of Mississippi State University. This Fall the two universities will play each other in football at the State campus and both Hannah and Hess expect to be there…maybe even together. However there may be a good chance that they will meet in the MSU President´s Box as the new president at MSU, Dr. Robert “Doc’ Foglesong, earned all three of his degrees from West Virginia University. When told about the wash wagon story, Doc Foglesong replied, “This is why America is the greatest nation in the world.’

* Wayne Sheets of the Inter-Mountain Newspaper, Dewayne Hannah and Jere Hess submitted information for this article.

95 Years of Perseverance

Lakeshore Baptist Church - ca 1952

June 11, 2006 Lakeshore Baptist Church celebrates ninety-five years of ministry in Lakeshore MS. The church invites the community to its 11:00 service that Sunday to be followed by dinner on the grounds and a concert.

In 1911 a small band of believers gathered in the home of R. C. Crysell to establish the Lakeshore Baptist Church. Four years later a major hurricane slammed into the Gulf coast taking their first building. Undaunted, the congregation rebuilt and continued proclaiming hope in a God who remains in control. In 1968 Camille took that building but left a 1952 structure to be cleaned out and used for services. On August 29, 2005 another storm, more powerful than any the gulf coast had ever seen, destroyed all buildings owned by the church. With faith in an unshakeable God, Lakeshore Baptist Church continues to minister to her community and offer hope in Jesus Christ.

Lakeshore Baptist Church invites the community to join her in celebrating ninety-five years of perseverance and prayer. The 11:00 Sunday morning service will highlight God’s unfailing hand of providence. Sixth Street Baptist Church of Alex City Alabama will supply a full lunch immediately following the service. Local gospel group, The Morans will appear in concert at 2:00. Lakeshore Baptist Church is located at 6028 Lakeshore Road.

James and Bea’s Foundation

James and Bea's Foundation
Nine months have past since hurricane Katrina completely demolished James and Bea’s house. I’ll never forget returning to the area in search of survivors and finding Mrs. Bea and James, sunburnt in the hot September sun, sitting on two salvaged chairs, living in a small tent with only the meagerest supplies sustaining their life.

It would take a book to relate James and Mrs. Bea’s story and the growing relationship we have enjoyed over the last 12 years of being their pastor; a relationship that has strengthened over the past nine months of working daily side by side. Their unmatched selflessness shines brightly against the bleak landscape of hurricane wrought devastation.

When churches from across the country began flooding my inbox and voicemail, I told James, “I’m going to need your help.” I really didn’t even have to ask, because his servants heart had already kicked into high gear providing assistance to anyone who needed it – and we all needed it.

James and Bea’s house now sits ready to be framed. Its listed as just a simple unadorned line on our growing volunteer project task list. James would not have it any other way. He does not want special favors, even though he denied going back to work to volunteer full time in our community rebuilding efforts. We even had to convince them to accept that much, since they did not want to take away from the help we were providing to others.
James and Bea's Foundation
If you would like to come help with this house, or similar projects, please call our church office at (228) 469-0110. We work with a very limited staff, so please leave a message and my administrative assistant JoEll, or our project coordinator, Greg London, will return your call. We need roofers, electricians, plumbers, framers, folks who can hang and mud sheet rock, finish carpenters, those able to lay flooring, painters, and other skilled help. We would love for you or your group to plan a trip to Lakeshore. We have housing and meal arrangements on our church property and host teams on a regular basis as we rebuild Lakeshore to the glory of God.