Mercy House Toys for Christmas

Christmas decorations, toys, and winter clothes fill the Mercy House this week as we celebrate the holiday season in Lakeshore. Every Wednesday, from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm we open to the public, to assist families in need, with clothes, food, household items, and whatever else gets donated to the ministry. This past week we included “Christmas stuff” and folks were lined up out to the street to get in.

One lady went out of her way to thank me. She said her son was so happy. Not because the gifts were for him, they wern’t. The toys were for a friend who’s family was going through a hard time. The mom said that he was so afraid his friend would not have anything under his tree. Now he will. “You just made his Christmas,” she said.

Paula and Georgia, from Maryland, have been hard at work sorting through the warehouse where toys have been collected for this time of year. They have made nearly a dozen trips down the the coast in the last decade and have become part of our family. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity, hard work, encouragement, and desire to serve to the glory of God.

Last weekend, Pastor Randy Davis and his wife came down from Hazlehurst, MS to work with Mrs. Bea. The Davis Family has been long term partners with Rebuild Lakeshore. We praise the Lord for them.

I can’t even begin to list all the locals who help sort clothes, stock shelves, and perform other tasks that make this mercy ministry a wonderful success, week after week. I do need to give a big special thanks to Mrs Ruth and Kim who faithfully assist Mrs. Bea every Wednesday. Without them, we could not do this.

The Lord allows us to show these tangible acts of mercy all year round. The task gets overwhelming at times, but folks like Paula, Georgia, the Davis Family, and countless others who come down, stay in our bunk house, and work along side of Lakeshore Baptist Church, makes it such a joy. Rebuild Lakeshore is a great mission trip for individuals, families, youth groups, Sunday School classes and churches. If you would like to come, we can always use your help. You can make a real difference in peoples lives. Merry Christmas!

Memories of Lakeshore

I love receiving emails from folks who came to Lakeshore years ago and still remember their experience. “Timmy P.” sent me this in the middle of the night. I praise the Lord when I hear someone speak of their time in Lakeshore, over a decade ago now, as the most humble, proud, and fulfilling moments” of their life. May God receive the glory.

Good day Pastor Don,

I have zero idea what compelled me to write this or even start researching lakeshore as I was trying to sleep (failing miserably at that obviously)… I came with Mike Deese and the group from Crosspointe Community Church in Roswell Georgia, just minutes outside of Atlanta. I remember so many details vividly. That Thanksgiving was our first of two trips (Christmas was trip 2) . It was such an amazing time for us as volunteers, to be able to give in any way we could. The bonding that took place I know I’ll never forget and can never be taken away from me. As we got closer we knew what lied ahead of us, but nothing could prepare us for how bad it really was. The drive down the freeway and seeing cars 20 feet in the air up in the trees. Boats and houses as well. It was so unbelievable, it was almost like we were in a dream.

But crossing that hump (maybe railroad tracks?) and once the truck crested and came over that little hill there was a little excitement. The kids knew we we were close to the ocean so they wanted to see the water, but ALL we saw was foundation slabs where houses once laid. All the way down to the shoreline slab slab and more slabs. I don’t remember how many houses or portions of were left. Just trailers here and there and then your makeshift church, with sleeping quarters near.

I remember meeting you and you were excited and energetic about helping and even sort of happy. You were so focused on rebuilding the church and giving the local people, your friends and family, a place to return to for fellowship, worship, and providing hope.

I remember the sadness over a lot of folks. Myself included… Seeing the markings on houses that we knew meant deceased. When we were at the school giving out food and clothing, and people asking for two of something instead of one because they were helpless, hopeless, and scared. The time I spent there was personally the most humble, proud, and fulfilling moments of my life. 37 years old and it still holds true today.

I’ve cc:ed Mike Deese on this as well, but I just came across my old camcorder (remember those? When was the last time you saw one of those? Our phones are now our cameras.) with pics and videos of him, his family, and the one he will remember the most, because I betcha he still has a pretty scar on his knee. A utility truck hit a lower power cable and a transformer fell to the ground with an awful light show. Mike took a spill and gave himself a nice gash. Everyone headed back to Atlanta. We headed to the hospital. (I just chuckled a little) . Mike wasn’t gonna miss out though. He had his wife pick up some soft shelled crab and smuggle them in, and I got chick FIL A. And I’m rambling. . . Ill forward the Pics tomorrow.

But I’ve read about the complications with your eye site. And the Gulf oil spill. And there you are still not giving up and making the best out of things and you are still preaching. It’s amazing, sir. I look up to you for that. I feel like you have a lot more facial hair than you did back then though.

Christmas was a second trip and we brought 8, I believe, prefabbed staircases for people who couldn’t easily get in and out of their FEMA trailers. I remember how grateful everyone was both trips. Truly amazing.

Again, I don’t know why I started typing, but I’m glad I did. Keep on doing what you do sir. It’s motivation for someone who never lost all that you have, and again and again. And still move forward, positive, with your head high. . .

Thanks for listening to me. Take care gentlemen. Keep on doing what you do.

Timmy Pietruszewski

What are your memories?

Winter is coming

Looking for a Fall mission trip? Here on the gulf coast we stay in shorts and flip-flops a good while after many folks in the country have bundled up for the changing season. August, September, and even into October, the weather remains so hot we wonder if it will ever cool off again. God promises “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.

As much as we welcome the cool weather that serves as a reprieve from the summer heat, the bitter cold that eventually comes, brings hardships for many in our community who live with limited resources. Purchasing all new winter outfits proves cost prohibitive for a lot of people, especially the elderly and those with small children.

Lakeshore Baptist Church, through our Mercy House ministry, seeks to supply those in need with winter clothes. The Lord has blessed us through generous donations of clothes throughout the year. We have stuffed them away in the warehouse in boxes and bags. Its now time to pull all those winter clothes out of storage, sort through them, and make them ready for those who could use the warmer apparel. Long sleeve flannel shirts, sweat shirts, sweaters, jackets, overcoats… to be honest, I’m not sure what is in all these boxes labeled “WINTER,” but its a lot.

This week, Mrs. Bea who oversees the distribution ministry, asked if I would send out a plea for some extra hands. We could really use some help, especially between now and Thanksgiving as we bring out the winter stock. We also have a section of the warehouse full of used toys. We would like to bring those out as well, for those who might like to go through them for Christmas. This would be a wonderful project for a Sunday School class, small group, teens, or even a family to make a trip down to Lakeshore. Several days, the weekend, or even just a day trip down to the coast would be greatly appreciated… and feel free to bring your shorts, its 73° and sunny today.

Mission Trip Smooths Things Out

Clean-up of the camp property has been moving slowly, but surely, since we dedicated our new church building, a little over a year ago. We made a big step this past week-end with the help of our good friend Kim Reed of Georgia. His Bobcat skills took down the old platform where Matthew used to sit, removed several piles of pallets and old debris, and spread several loads of dirt into low spots so the property will drain better. The area in front of the bunk house, that used to accommodate the Matthew, Mark, and Luke Quonset huts now looks ready to become nice green space. We can not thank him enough, as well as all the others who have come over the past year to see our property transformed from a make-shift relief center to a well kept campus. We are far from the goal, but progress looks good.

If you would like to come and help push things forward, the bunk house stands ready to host groups as large as 38 people. We still have plenty to do, left over materials to go through, the John Quonset hut to take down, the mobile units to rehab, sheds to move, bonfires to burn, landscaping to plant, and so much more. Lakeshore is still a great mission trip destination.
Clean up needed

Three Out Of Four

The third of the four Quonset huts of our Katrina complex came down last week. Despite the debilitating heat and sporadic thunderstorms, a great group of volunteers from Massachusetts pushed forward and completed an astonishing amount of work. In addition to the decommissioning and clean up efforts, they also provided a tremendous boost to the distribution center at The Mercy House. We can’t thank them enough for their help.
Massachusetts

Quonset huts

The Fragments that Remain

Jesus fed 5000+ on a little boys lunch and when everyone ate their fill, he instructed the disciples to gather up “the fragments that remain.” (John 6:1-14) Jesus provided for the physical needs of well over 5000 people here on the gulf coast in the decade following Hurricane Katrina. Its now time to gather the fragments that remain. On almost a daily basis we experienced God’s overwhelming provision as lumber, tile, paint, windows, insulation, sheet rock, and other things, where donated and used in the construction of homes. We’ve seen building materials multiply like loaves and fish. This summer we plan to pick up all the pieces and continue to follow Christ wherever He leads. If you are looking for a mission trip opportunity this summer, consider Lakeshore as a place you can get your hands dirty for the glory of God.

Puritans and Pirates

Three hundred years ago Pirates troubled the waters of the high seas. These real life pirates, like Captain Kidd, Henry Morgan, Edward Teach , and Jack Rackham have spawned legends of popular culture. From Robert Lewis Stephenson’s Treasure Island to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, fact and fiction blur into a fantasy world that has mesmerized the imagination. Speaking of his childhood, Mark Twain famously said, “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.”

Many people may not realize that “The Golden Age of Piracy” overlaps with the time period of the Puritans. In fact, several puritans would have rubbed shoulders with and ministered to both real life pirates and their victims. One of my favorites, John Flavel (1630-1691), for example, pastoring in the port city of Dartmouth intentionally directed much of his ministry to those who spent their lives on the water. His works include, “A Faithful and Succinct Narrative of Some Late and Wonderful Sea-Deliverances,” “A Seaman’s Catachism,” “Navigation Spiritualized (or, A New Compass for Seamen),” and “The Seaman’s Companion” which consists of six sermons for seafaring men: “The Seaman’s Farewell – Acts 21:5-6,” “The Seaman in a Storm – Psalm 107:23-28,” “The Seaman’s Preservative in Foreign Countries – Psalm 139:9-10,” “The Successful Seaman – Deuteronomy 8:17-18,” “The Disappointed Seaman – Luke 5:5,” and “The Seaman’s Return – Deuteronomy 33:19.” He also had some sermons that seemed to be directly addressed to pirates, like “A pathetic and serious Dissuasive from the horrid and detestable Sins of Drunkenness, Swearing, Uncleanness, Forgetfulness of Mercies, Violation of Promises, and Atheistical Contempt of Death.”

Others, such as Cotton Mather, son of Increase Mather, made a point of ministering directly to pirates. An entire preaching genre, called “Execution Sermons” came from puritans giving the gospel to pirates in a final plea for their souls before meeting the hangman’s noose. Cotton Mather wrote in his journal of 1699

“After the other public Services of the Day were over I visited the Prison. A great Number of Pyrates being there committed, besides other Malefactors, I went and pray’d with them, and preach’d to them. The Text, in which the Lord helped mee to Discourse, was Jer 2. 26. The Thief is ashamed, when hee is found. I hope, I shall have some good Fruit of these Endeavours.”

The Mississippi Gulf Coast saw its fair share of pirate activity. Most notable is the infamous Jean Lafitte and the legends of the Pirate House, destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969. I do not know of any puritans in the area that would have preached the gospel to anyone back then, much less the pirates of the 18th century gulf coast. Its high time we correct that deficiency.

We have intercepted a communiqué that a band of pirates plan to storm the Bay St. Louis harbor, on June 25, kidnap the mayor, raise the Jolly Roger flag over city hall and declare “Pirate Day in the Bay.” The street festival will include carnival rides, food vendors, live music, games for the kids and more.

On the eve of landfall, Friday night, June 24th at 6:30 pm Lakeshore Baptist Church will host a lecture on the puritans. Dr. Chris King, pastor of Bayou View Baptist Church of Gulfport MS, will be our guest speaker. We invite you to come hear an “Introduction to the Puritans,” as you discover who they were and why they are important for us to continue reading today. Pastor Tony Hicks, of Clifton Baptist Church, Franklinton, LA, will review and recommend several puritan pamphlets provided by our friends at the Chapel Library, Pensacola FL. Pastor Don Elbourne will salt the event with tales of puritans and pirates. Make plans to attend with the whole family. The event is FREE and open to the public.

On Saturday, we plan to attend the “Pirate Day in the Bay” event, and in the tradition of the puritans, distribute gospel literature to those gathering at the harbor for the festivities.

We also want to invite our friends from out of town to come and join us. The Rebuild Lakeshore Bunk House will be available for those wanting to spend the entire weekend with us. When we built the Bunk House, back in 2009, remember we said that after we completed Hurricane Katrina rebuilding that the bunk house would continue to serve non-Katrina related mission trips, camps, conferences, retreats, and special events. This is one of those kind of events we envisioned. We would love to see you again. First come, first serve, so let us know if you would like us to reserve you a bunk.

Check out our Facebook page “Puritans and Pirates” and make plans to attend the event.

Yellow Hats Prepare for Disaster

Lakeshore Baptist Church, in partnership with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, hosted disaster relief training this past Saturday. Don Gann began the day with an introductory seminar, “Involving Southern Baptists in Disaster Relief,” Participants then received training in the following areas: Feeding Unit, Chainsaw Work, Chaplaincy, Childcare, Mud out/Tarping/Shower Trailer, and Basic Assessment. Over 50 people were involved in the training.

After lunch, cooked and served by the feeding unit team, the chainsaw crew practiced by downing a tree in front of the new church building. By the providence of God and the skillful work of the team, the tree fell precisely as intended. The work revealed, however, how rotten the inside of the tree was. If we had not cut it down, it would have soon come down on its own and hit either the church or the power lines. We praise the Lord for his hand of safety.

We highlighted the day with the prayer that our training would be needed as little as possible. Visit the MBCB website for more information about how you, and your church, can get involved with Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief. I can not thank everyone enough, especially Don Gann, for a very successful day to the glory of God.

Don Gann

Cross and Resurrection Church

We had a great week with our good friends of Cross and Resurrection Church, Ann Arbor MI. As they drive home today, we pray for their safe travel and rejoice in the partnership we have enjoyed with them over the years. They made an all male mission trip this year and the guys accomplished a lot of work this week, not the least of which was a much needed massive cleaning of the bunk house kitchen.
Cross and Resurrection Church

Camp Lakeshore

When Lakeshore Baptist Church voted to build “The Bunk House,” we envisioned a day when we would complete the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts and then continue using the facilities to host camps, retreats, conferences, etc. Its time to make that dream a reality. Would you like to be a part of it? If so, we could use your help this summer.

Top of the list – we need to decommission all the temporary housing. The quonset huts have seen their glory days. We are looking for some groups this summer to dismantle the sleeping quarters, and reclaim the grounds. This will include sorting through all the left over building materials, the demolition and moving of old sheds, and other things; all in an effort to transform the back area of the property into a well kept facilaty.

Good-bye Stuff

Do you have a green thumb? Landscaping and the planting of trees on the church property keeps getting pushed down the list of priorities. I would love if we could begin doing some of this type of beautification in 2016. The gulf coast serves as a wonderful fertile ground for God’s glory to be seen through His creation.

We have several other wonderful ideas that depend on partnering with groups coming down to the coast for a mission trip. Many of them hinge on how many churches and teams we can put on the calendar for this year. Talk it up and start planning your trip.

The Mercy House still serves our community with clothes, food, and household items. This huge ministry that the Lord has granted us always can use hands to sort clothes, work with donations, etc. For many people, working in the distribution center holds the best memories of their mission trip to Lakeshore. I’ve been asked if this ministry opportunity is still available to folks coming on a mission trip. Absolutely! We would love to see you again!

In addition to getting the camp going and putting the finishing touches on the church building, we want to continue ministering to the needy of our comunity. While most home repair projects these days can’t be tied directly to Katrina relief, the need still exists. Weather its a handicap man with a leaking roof, or an elderly lady with broken front steps, or some other need, Lakeshore has become known as a place where God’s people step up to the plate and lend a helping hand. Plan a mission trip to Lakeshore and everyone in your group will have something to do to the glory of God. We look forward to seeing you this summer.

Lakeshore Baptist Church