Family is Everything

I have two of the best brothers in the world. We spent time this week in the flood relief efforts, teaming up to provide help and hope in the name of Christ. As a pastor, a doctor, and a business man we pretty much cover the field. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12.

I’m the oldest of three brothers. I’m the pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church on the Mississippi gulf coast where I have served since 1994. I also direct Rebuild Lakeshore, a mercy ministry involved in disaster relief, recovery, and rebuilding, launched in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Keith Elbourne is an OB/GYN and has Bayou Regional Women’s Clinic. Keith also serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Zachary, Louisiana, where the Mississippi Baptist Convention Disaster Relief has set up a command center for the volunteer efforts there.

David Elbourne has a successful industrial railroad construction and maintenance company, Rhorer Mutual Industries based in Prairieville Louisiana. He and our dad took a boat in, while the water was still rising, to salvage most of his files and to rescue the companies pet goat. (I’m not kidding.) The RMI offices and industrial complex took on about 6′ of water. David and I spent most of the week touching base with individuals, pastors, and organizations across the flooded region, providing supplies, lending assistance, and establishing partnerships for ongoing recovery efforts.

I can not praise my two brothers enough. They, along with our dad, are the three most inspiring, encouraging, and influential men in my life. I praise God for them.

First Trip to LA

This week Lakeshore Baptist Church teamed up with our Gulf Coast Baptist Association to provide mud-out teams in the Gonzales LA area. We partnered with Ascension Baptist Church and FBC Gonzales. A shower trailer unit from Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief provided shower and laundry facilities. Mr Larry Rutherford led the team to mud out several homes. This was our first trip, but it defanatly will not be our last.

FBC Zachary LA Hosting Volunteers

You may have seen Zachary Louisiana on the news yesterday as Obama visited this flood devastated area. If you live in other parts of the country, you probably did not see what Southern Baptists are doing to help. I’m on the Board of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and serve on the Disaster Relief committee. Lakeshore Baptist Church hosted Disaster Relief training back in February. Little did we know that our training would be needed so soon and so close.

Mississippi Baptists have a strong desire to assist our Louisiana neighbors. We have set up a command center at FBC Zachary where my brother, Dr. Keith Elbourne, is a deacon. With the resources of this partnership we can host over 100 volunteers at a time. Hundreds of homes have already been gutted, but there are thousands and thousands that still need help.

I could probably gather a long list of places that anyone coming down to help could plug in with, but for now, let me highly recommend working with First Baptist Church of Zachary LA. The church has offered their very well-equipped facilities to the effort. Mission teams wanting to come can call LC Drawdy (228)297-9953. Let him know that Pastor Don Elbourne sent you and I will try to meet up with you there. Zachary Louisiana is only a couple hours from Lakeshore Mississippi. Thank you so much!

Come and Help

The first phase of clean up after the Louisiana flood is well underway. I touched base with numerous churches and organizations in the effected region this week and while thousands of volunteers have boots on the ground, the biggest need right now is people. The next few weeks will focus on mud out.

Believe it or not, thousands of homes have already been gutted and are drying out. Drive down almost any street in the effected areas and piles of debris line the sidewalks, but then, if you look, there sits a house here and a house there and two more over on the next block, and a few on that street over there, and on, and on… that have no debris outside. This means the folks living in the home are either out helping someone else or are unable to do it themselves, or the volunteers have not made it down the list to them yet. Its going to take weeks of hard work; and that’s even before rebuilding can begin. I’m calling out to all our Rebuild Lakeshore partners to come and lend a hand in this clean up effort.

Ramping Up

Several folks have asked if Rebuild Lakeshore will be assisting in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the Louisiana flooding. The answer is “YES.” We have already been coordinating efforts, providing immediate assistance, and mapping out long term strategies.

Start making plans for a mission trip to the region. We are establishing partnerships with several possible mission trip destinations in the effected areas that will be hosting volunteers. If you made a mission trip to Lakeshore for Hurricane Katrina relief, the situation will be very similar. We learned a lot from those experiences and we want to leverage that knowledge and convert it to the maximum effectiveness. More news will be available very soon.

Louisiana Flooding Call To Action

Thousands of homes sit under flood waters in my home town of Baton Rouge. A close friends home, pictured above, took on water this weekend. Countless other families find themselves in desperate need of assistance. We know what its like and plan to provide help by sending supplies, going to clean up, being there, and offering prayer.

Our Gulf Coast Baptist Association has secured a tractor trailer to deliver pillows and blankets to the effected region. Donations of pillows and blankets can be brought to the GCBA office 11201 Old Hwy 49, Gulfport MS 39503. When roads are open, probably later this week, the supplies will be delivered to our Louisiana partners.

Even as flood waters continue to rise in some places, we are planning to deploy. Lakeshore Baptist Church in partnership with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is assembling a Mud Out team to assist in the clean up efforts in the Baton Rouge area. We know that boots on the ground make a huge difference. We were helped, by so many, after Hurricane Katrina, its time for us to help our neighbors in Louisiana. We are going.

Please pray for the families effected by the flooding, the other families that are taking in evacuees, the rescuers, the relief workers, the state police and other officials, and everyone else, as we all work together to get through this to the glory of God.

If you would like to help financially to these efforts you can donate online via Paypal. Just click on the link below.

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.

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.

Giving Back

The Mercy House ministry of Lakeshore Baptist Church is going strong. With your help, we are able to touch dozens of families each week. Whatever gets donated, quickly finds its way into the homes of local folks who can use a helping hand. Recently someone donated an old sewing machine. A lady from our community took the machine and with hours of love saturated labor, produced this beautiful quilt. She gifted it to Mrs. Bea, in appreciation for the hard work she puts in at overseeing the distribution center.