On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slammed into the gulf coast leaving nothing but devastation in her wake. The Lakeshore Baptist Church buildings, situated about 1 mile from the beach on the Mississippi gulf coast, numbered in the casualties of the storm along with nearly 11,000 residences in Hancock County, schools, businesses, police stations – just about everything. Shortly after the storm, folks asked us if Hurricane Katrina destroyed our church. We firmly answered, “no.” While the storm destroyed all our church buildings, the church, itself, remained strong.
The members of Lakeshore Baptist Church, as the hands and feet of Jesus, began using temporary buildings and ministering to our storm ravaged community. As a testimony to God’s sustaining grace, we have partnered with over 500 churches from across the country to rebuild our community. Through these efforts literally thousands of families in our county have received assistance by way of emergency food, clothing and relief supplies. Others have received donations of household items, including furniture, cookware, and even toys for the kids. Hundreds of homes were gutted and cleaned by volunteers working through the ministry here. Over 100 homes have been rehabbed and 35 homes completely rebuilt from the ground up. God has been at work. We have seen so much accomplished, but the monumental job remains incomplete. we plan to continue these efforts for the foreseeable future.
Shortly after the storm we realized it would take several long years of rebuilding before we would see signs of full recovery for our church and community. I must confess, I did not anticipate what God would do in our hearts in the process. In the past four years God has shown us what a Gospel driven missional church can accomplish when she hungers after the glory of God and the good of her community. God has refocused our vision, reorganized our ministry, and re energized our passion. In many ways, Lakeshore Baptist Church stands stronger now than before Katrina.
While we still maintain, “the church is not the building,” we recognize the value of facilities to fulfill our primary gospel mission. We have hammered out a master plan for the physical buildings that can facilitate our vision for the future ministry of the church in Lakeshore. Lord willing, I’ll post an outline of these proposed structures soon. Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s greatest glory.