Food Abundance

Over 70 families participated in our “Grow Your Food” seminar this past Saturday. As an extension of our Mercy Ministry we sought to encourage and educate folks on how they could increase their food security through simple vegetable gardening. A trunk full of groceries went home with each household in attendance.

Every week I receive phone calls and visits from people requesting assistance because they have no food in their pantries. God’s good earth can produce an abundance of food for human flourishing, but unfortunately, that food is not always available to everyone. I want to change that. I believe that if we can motivate and educate families to do more home food production, our community will be the richer for it. I told the story of one family, with a small garden who calculated the value of their homegrown vegetables last year to be $1000. I floated the vision of 100 families doing the same in Hancock County. That’s $100,000 worth of extra food for our families, neighbors, and friends. No one should go hungry in America, much less on the bountiful Mississippi gulf coast.

I told about my personal successes in growing sweet potatoes, okra, and salad greens, as well as making our pepper jelly. Last year I turned 1 sweet potato into an entire wheelbarrow full with very little work. Okra is so prolific in our climate we ate it almost every day during the summer. Arugula, kale, and other salad greens flourished during the winter, even through our record breaking cold here on the gulf coast. We even made enough money selling pepper jelly last year to visit our son at the University of Massachusetts.

Our Mississippi State University Extension Agents, Christian Stephenson and Jennifer O’Banner, gave talks on the simplicity of growing valuable produce on a small scale with even very little work. For example, in this part of the country we all use bell peppers, onions, celery and garlic in our cooking. Bell peppers are particularly expensive at the grocery store, but all these items are easy to grow. Not only is growing your own food financially beneficial its healthier too and can taste great.

I’ve already received some very positive feedback on the event. One lady said she rushed straight to the store to purchase seeds after the class. Another sent me pictures of her seed treys in preparation for spring planting. I am excited about the potential. My wife and I will continue to expand our small garden next door to the church. You can keep up with what we are growing and future events like this on our Facebook page, “Lakeshore Gardens.” Please like our page and share this post.

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Harvesting Okra:

Homegrown Salad:

Homemade Pepper Jelly:

What are you growing?

Stand Up For Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico hard, but the local pastors are up for the long task of recovery ahead. On my trip to the island last week I met men who have a strong resolve to see God glorified in their communities. The immense damage left in the wake of the storms may take years to overcome, but I was encouraged by the strength, determination, and vision of the local pastors. We need to stand beside these men, and their churches, as they stand up for the glory of God.

Power out in Puerto Rico

The most pressing need is power. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to expedite the power grid getting back online, but we can pray toward that end. As we traveled around we didn’t see many places with power. Electric lines were still mangled and hanging on the road and not until the last day of the trip did I see any power company trucks working. Estimates say that it may take over a year to get juice flowing again. In the meantime Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has equipped each church and pastor with a generator. I brought some solar powered USB battery chargers and power banks. It was a small thing, but they were greatly appreciated.

NAMB Warehouse in Puerto Rico

I stayed in the home of Pastor Brad Williams, a church planter from Texas. He served as a great host, despite the fact we didn’t have electricity or hot water. The water that we did have, had to be filtered for safe drinking. Brad has been in Puerto Rico for a couple years now and has earned the respect of his community. He is very fluent in Spanish and has been teaching English classes with great success. In this time of crisis he has been doing an excellent job in managing the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief warehouse. Food and supplies flowing through the North American Mission Board get pushed out to churches across the island. Some churches are able to come pick up supplies and we were able to deliver to others.

NAMB SEND Relief in Puerto Rico

I found several church buildings in need of repair. In God’s good providence, none were completely destroyed, but they did receive extensive roof damage. The storm pealed all the metal off the roof of one of the churches and the entire roof needs to be replaced. Like many structures in Puerto Rico, another one of the churches I met with, has a flat roof that suffered damage. These types of roofs need to be patched, coated, and sealed. If anyone with experience with these kinds of things would like to make a mission trip, let me know and we will work to make it happen.

I can’t thank Mateo Malendez enough for inviting me to tag along on this first trip. He has been making mission trips and building relationships across Puerto Rico for the last several years. He is well connected there and well loved by everyone we came in contact with. The networking he has established is proving invaluable during the relief, recovery, and rebuilding process.

I wish I could tell you about each of the pastors I met this week and their amazing stories. To do so would take a full length book. For now, let me just ask you to pray for them, along with their people. They have a rough road ahead.

This is not the last you will hear about Puerto Rico. I am determined to persevere in prayer for these men I met this week as they minister to their communities for the sake of the gospel. Let us stand beside Puerto Rico as they stand up for the glory of God.

You can Donate to our Puerto Rico Mission:

GoFundMe for Puerto Rico

I’m reaching out to my Rebuild Lakeshore friends for help on behalf of those in Puerto Rico suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Since I know what it is like to go through a massive hurricane, I will be traveling to the island in a couple weeks, to meet with several pastors and church planters. Please pray for my trip, that God would be glorified, and the people there will be strengthened. If you might be interested in helping financially with this, please visit my GoFundMe page for more details. Thank you so much!

Pastor Don's Trip to Puerto Rico

Mercy House Fund Raiser

Our great friends from St. Mary’s in Massachusetts held a Bake Sale fund raiser for the Mercy House. Under the gracious leadership of Bob Whitting, they raised $250 for the cause. We can not thank them enough and look forward to seeing them again for their annual trip next August.

The Mercy House is a ministry of Lakeshore Baptist Church that provides benevolence assistance to our community here on the Mississippi gulf coast. We rely on physical donations of food, clothing, and house hold items and distribute them to people in need. We are able to touch over 200 families a month because of this kind of generous support.

Mission Trip Rest Stop

Not only is Lakeshore a mission trip destination, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey we have also become a mission trip rest area for those traveling to the Texas gulf coast. This week our good friend Lee Carter led a team to the Houston area to do mud out work in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. They broke up the long drive back and forth from South Carolina by spending the night with us here at the Lakeshore bunk house. They also shuttled relief supplies, that we had collected here, and delivered them to the affected area.

We praise God for dedicated folks like this who have made a lifestyle of disaster relief, going wear ever needed, and lending assistance. We sure appreciate their help after Katrina and we know that many lives were touched this week in Texas by their hard work and generosity.

Hurricane Harvey Relief

The images coming out of The Texas gulf coast are way too familiar. The feelings we experienced 12 years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina here on the Mississippi gulf coast are fused into our nervous systems. Disaster Relief Mercy Ministry now exists as part of our DNA, so YES, we will do whatever we can to aid and assist those suffering in Texas.

I was in Jackson MS this past Tuesday and met with our Mississippi Baptist Disaster Relief committee. Our director, Don Gann has been in close contact with our Texas Baptist partners and we are on stand-by to come and help. Our first wave will be our large feeding unit, which can produce up to 20,000 meals a day. The chain saw crews and mud out teams will also go. This is what we trained for back in February here in Lakeshore.

Several other things are in the works, but the most immediate is a van heading that way late this Friday night. The first destination will be Bayside Texas, a small little community that appears basically overlooked. We know what that’s like. We will load a truck down with basic relief supplies, toiletries, tarps, batteries, nonperishable food items and bleach. Pray for safe travel.

If you would like to contribute to our efforts, you can do so through Paypal:

Warehouse of Mercy

Our Mercy House distribution center ministry depends on donations of clothing, household items, furniture, toys and other things. These donations are placed in needy homes just as fast as they come in… well, almost. Much of the stuff goes into the warehouse where it can be sorted, organized, and stored until they are needed. Toys suitable for Christmas are tucked away in a special location. Seasonal clothing has its place. At least that is the theory. The reality is that serving people face to face usually takes precedence over working in the hot lonely warehouse and over time the organization gets more and more chaotic. The result is a warehouse out of control.

Last week an energetic group of young people from Massachusetts spent the week with us and set as their main goal to conquer the disarray. All week they sorted through mounds of clothing, rearranged boxes like a giant game of Tetris, sorted through the clutter, and found a few things we didn’t even know we had. By the end of the week there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. As tidy as the warehouse is today, with a sheepish grin we did have to tell the group that we can’t promise how long it will stay that way. God has blessed us with a very active ministry, but this much needed overhaul will enhance the efforts exponentially. We can not express how grateful we are for this hard work and how much more productive the next several months will be as we seek to serve our community for the glory of God.

Revisit Lakeshore

Earlier this summer I received an email from Pastor L.T. Louge. A decade ago he made several trips to the gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I remember Bro. L.T. because he was instrumental in our decision to build one of our first houses, from the ground up, for one of the widows in our church, Mrs. Redford. Now at a different church, he wanted to make a return trip to Lakeshore to expose his folks to the amazing work God accomplished here on the gulf coast and to lend a hand in our ongoing ministry.

Last week he brought about 20 hard working volunteers from Georgia back to Lakeshore. Accompanying him was Brother Kenny Rowland and folks from his church as well. They tackled several projects including working in the Mercy House, pressure washing our buildings, adding windows to the pastor’s cabin, and continuing the efforts to decommission our temporary infastructure.

They were able to catch up with Mrs. Redford who thanked them again for the reconstruction of her home.

Mrs. Redford

Girls in Mercy House

On Wednesday night they blessed us with a concert featuring some very gifted voices including the group BASIK Truth. While not singing, they were working hard… well actually even when they were working they were singing too; which was a tremendous blessing. We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and appreciate their generous work.

If you would like to make a return trip to Lakeshore, contact us for available dates. The bunk house sleeps 38 and is ready to host your group.

The Birth of a Mission Trip

Eleven years ago, last week, a group of folks were working with us here in Lakeshore as part of our Hurricane Katrina relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. Glen and Pat served on that team and were sleeping in the shipping container bunk rooms when they got a phone call in the middle of the night, from back home in Georgia, telling them about the birth of their grand-daughter Reagan. Last week Glen and Pat returned to Lakeshore on a mission trip, this time bringing their precious 11 year old grand-daughter along. She is a great worker, has a beautiful smile, and a wonderful sweet spirit. Happy Birthday Reagan!

Reagan on the back hoe

Glen and Pat singing

Glen and Pat sang for us last Wednesday night and we were greatly blessed.
Also, since their first trip to Lakeshore, Glen has surrender to the ministry. Please pray for this dear brother as God continues to use him for His glory.

Glean leading Bible study

Bayside VBS

For the past year a faithful group of folks from Georgia have been involved in revitalization efforts at a sister church here in our comunity. Bayside Baptist Church was going through some difficult times and the doors threatened to close. A group of brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t want to see that happen. For an entire year they have been traveling to the Mississippi gulf coast every week, bathing the church in prayer and working tirelessly to establish a solid foundation for future ministry. Their hard work is paying off and God is blessing.

Lakeshore Baptist Church and Rebuild Lakeshore has gladly partnered with these efforts by making our bunk house available to their ministry teams. A couple weeks ago they sent a large contingency to do a VBS at Bayside with tremendous results. With over 100 locals in attendance, the week made an amazing impact. Yesterday they baptized 6 new converts to the glory of God.

Baptism Candedates

Please continue to remember Bayside Baptist Church in prayer as they consider a new pastor and join us in praising the Lord for this gospel work.