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.