When Nature Calls

Its a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. I praise the Lord for First Baptist Church of Ponchatoula Louisiana who was here last week. They successfully dug the trench and laid the sewer line for the new church building. Its not as glamorous as some of the other things, but it was a necessary project and I praise the Lord that they were willing to do it. At least it was fresh pipe. This actually reminds me of several stories. I’ll share one and try not to be too graphic.

It was the first couple of weeks after the storm. Remember, Katrina completely destroyed this area, there were no standing buildings, no utilities or services of any kind. Our church property had nothing but debris. We were camping out in tents, eating military MREs, and when nature called, we had to just go behind some rubble. So when a church in Texas called and asked, “what is your greatest need,” we talked about getting some sort of restroom set up.

We had an old septic tank on the church property, with a slab and a hole leading down to it. My idea was to build an out house over it and at least that would give us some privacy. They jumped on the project, prefabed the wooden structure in Texas, set it on a trailer, and headed our way.

When they arrived, I was off site. Unable to locate the septic tank, they dug a deep hole in what would have been the back yard of the old church. Picture an old-fashioned 4’X4′ outhouse and you get the idea. It was wonderful and served its purpose for several days. I was a little worried about the hole, but the guy said that he placed a bag of lime at the bottom and that would take care of things. Apparently, that’s how they did it in the old days.

Come Sunday morning, we were holding church services where the old building used to be. We had pulled the pulpit out of the mud, set it up on concrete blocks and on a piece of plywood that used to serve as someone’s roof. We build a makeshift awning out of salvaged lumber and a blue tarp to shield us from the hot September Sun. Since there were no walls on this structure, the outhouse could be seen right behind me as I preached. The awkward sight didn’t bother anyone, but the flies were a little difficult to handle. With the number of folks on the church property, the lime had gone past its usefulness. It was bad.

Relief supplies had been rolling in. Among the goods we received a pallet of bleach. We used it to clean out our wells as we tried to get water going again. One of the volunteers knew how to get rid of the flies. He poured a couple of gallons of bleach down the hole. Its been a long time since high school chemistry class, but apparently lime and bleach don’t mix well. The outhouse started smoking. Toxic white fumes billowed out of every seam of the structure and as we began the church service, I was a little afraid that it might blow up.

As we sang the “Call to Worship,” The Lord sent a favorable wind that blew the potentially deadly smoke away from the congregation. After church, the flies were all dead, but I warned everyone not to use the outhouse. It was the only toilet within miles and I had to place an “out of order” sign on it

Spring Break 2014

Over the last few weeks we have had some great students work with us for their spring breaks. Kentwood Community Church of Michigan prepared the site for the next teams coming throughout the summer. A group of High School students from Pittsburgh PA hit numerous projects including framing the Porte-cochère, painting, repairing the old fiberglass steeple, running HV/AC ducts for the lower level, etc. I couldn’t even keep up with everything they did. They were all a big help.

I wish I could list every team of students that have come down to the Mississippi gulf coast over the last several years. Dating all the way back to 2005, immediately following Hurricane Katrina, we have had some of the best teenagers in the country lend a hand in the ongoing efforts.

Rockin’ it


What a difference dry wall makes! Some of our guys, Mike Poirier and Randy McCarver, started hanging the sheet rock. They were joined by a great group of folks from churches of the Mid-Lakes Baptist Association in Missouri. The following week another great team from Lake Shore Baptist of Massachusetts continued where they left off. This week Mississippians from Dumas Baptist Church finished the job.

Selecting Colors

A great team of folks from Mid-Lakes Baptist Association of Missouri are doing a great job hanging the sheet rock in our new building this week. Which means we will need to select paint colors soon, and that reminds me of a story, I would like to share.

Shortly after the storm we erected our current “temporary” church building and began worshiping in it imediatly. We built interior walls and finally hung sheet rock. When the time came to paint the focal wall, I needed to decide on a color. So, I turned to JoEll for input.

If you have been to Lakeshore, you have probably met JoEll. She has been serving as my secretary since the storm. Over the years, I have learned to value her opinion and her friendship. She often helps me think through decisions like this and she usually has very good advice and thinks through things well.

Now remember, about six grueling months had past since the storm and the landscape remained desolate. We were still in the long process of removing debris, there were no leaves on the trees, all the grass was dead, All the FEMA campers were plain white. The quonset huts were mud brown. Everything was dreary, lifeless, colorless, and depressing. Even when we were building sheds, we just gave them a utilitarian white wash and called it good enough.

JoEll recognized that we needed a little life injected into the dreariness of the long-term recovery efforts. We needed some color to brighten things up, something sunny. She said, how about “sunshine yellow?” I started picturing this big wall in the front of the church, splashed with “sunshine yellow.” I imagined people having to wear sun glasses to worship. I respectfully vetoed the idea.

At that point, I said, “I think I need a man’s opinion.” (See my article on Masculine Church Architecture.)I turned to James. He said, I think we need a man’s color; something like deep blue or green. Now that’s more like it! Green it was. We selected a nice earth tone green.

But I hated the idea that I had to reject JoEll’s suggestion and I really wanted to brighten her day. So the next morning, when I was doling out jobs for all the volunteers, I saved a special project for a couple of the ladies. I sent them on a “secret mission.” Once JoEll had gotten to the church property, they snuck off to purchase paint, and then over to JoEll’s FEMA camper, to paint her shed, yep, the brightest “sunshine yellow” they could find. I wish I could have seen the look on her face when she got home that evening. lol

Ready for Spring Break?

Are you looking forward to spring? Historically our spring break weeks have been full of mission teams. At this time we still have several weeks open as we continue working on the new church building. We do not have anyone scheduled yet for March 2-6, March 23-April 12, and April 20 through the end of May. Want to come? Talk it up in your church. As the weather warms, we look forward to a glorious time in the Lord on the gulf coast this spring.

The Reformed Baptist Project

The Lord blessed us last week with a wonderful time of Christian fellowship and productivity when nearly 100 volunteers converged on Lakeshore to push forward with the new church building construction. We hung siding on the south side of the building, installed the air conditioning units and ran the duct work, dug the elevator pit, pour steps for the front entrance, set the large columns for the front portico, and several other things.

The team consisted of a network of Reformed Baptist Churches who have been to Lakeshore every January for the last nine years. I truly have been blessed by the relationships forged through this partnership.

To read a detailed account of the happenings throughout the week, check out their blog “The Lakeshore Project

Happy New Year!

It is a happy new year indeed. Progress moves forward on the new church building and fund raising efforts look good. This time last year the corner of Lakeshore Road and Second Street sat as an empty field with nothing more than stakes in the ground run with string. Today the edifice of a new building stands tall, waiting completion, for the glory of God.

Over the past twelve months we saw pilings pounded into the ground, footers dug, pillars set, the slab poured, the floor joists hung, the walls built, the trusses swung into place, the roof shingled, windows and doors installed, a back deck constructed, the building wired, the plumbing run, and a thousand other things.

For those closely following the progress, you know we were “dreaming of a white Christmas” with the hope of spray foam insulation last week. Before we broke for the holiday we decided to juggle priorities and hold off on that application for a few weeks. This change does not jeopardize the schedule in any way. It simply gave us some breathing room to ensure that all the rough in electrical, plumbing, and HV/AC could receive the attention it deserves.

As we look forward to 2014, we see the promise of a completed project by summers end. In a few days, 100+ volunteers will flood into Lakeshore for an intense week of loving labor. Plans include constructing the front entrance, setting the massive front columns, starting the siding, and preparing for the elevator, among other things. Lord willing we will begin hanging sheet rock in February.

Come March, we will need some more hands to move forward with paint, flooring, trim, restrooms, and the punch list that will be several pages long on a project this size. Its not too early to plan a Spring Break mission trip. Would you like to come? Contact us for details.

I would like to also ask you to join us in prayer concerning our financial goals for the project. We need an additional $37,000 to complete the building. For a church our size, that is still a substantial sum, but I do not believe it is insurmountable. The LORD owns the cattle on a thousand hills… His cattle, His house, His glory!