A Place of Worship

For the first five weeks after the storm Lakeshore Baptist Church held Sunday worship services on the rough cement slab where our church building used to sit. We enjoyed the shade of a blue tarp for three of those weeks as we sought encouragement and strength from the preached Word. Habakkuk 3:1-19, Luke 7:11-17, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and Psalm 57 gave us hope in our sovereign God who never fails.

We have now erected a couple of 24X50 air-conditioned quonset huts. One serves our food and clothes distribution and the other as a multipurpose structure. We packed about 80 people into it for this past Sunday’s worship service. I preached Psalm 40:1-3. During the week, rotating volunteer teams will use the building as a make-shift dormitory.

First Baptist Church of Clinton LA and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Boca Raton FL have partnered together to provide a temporary building while we construct our permanent facilities. Lord willing, they will put up a 36X90 metal building on our church property in the next 4-6 weeks.

FBC Gaffney SC has offered to head up the planning and construction of our permanent facilities. Before the storm we had been looking to build a 3,500 sq ft. fellowship hall and educational space to replace our cramped buildings. My sister, an interior designer is using those sketches to layout a floor plan for the all new structure which will put the sanctuary, fellowship hall, Sunday School classes, nursery, bathrooms, kitchen, and office all under one roof. If Mrs. Juanita is reading this from Virginia – yes, we plan to include plenty of closet and storage space. 🙂

God has reinforced to us that the church doesn’t need buildings to fulfill its purpose of magnifying and marveling at His magnificence and glory. At the same time He has shown us that buildings do sure serve as handy tools in the fulfillment of our chief end. As we move from a shadeless piece of concrete, to a blue tarp, to a quonset hut, to a metal building, to a fully equipped beautiful new facility, we pray that we will continue to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

The Hurricane of 1915

Lakeshore Baptist Church began in 1911 in the home of R. C. Crysell. Shortly after erecting a church building a hurricane pounded our community leaving the structure in ruins. Ninety years later we find ourselves in a similar situation. Like then, the generosity of fellow believers came to our assistance to rebuild and move forward to the glory of God. The following article appeared in the Alabama Baptist paper in November of 1915.

Church Destroyed By Storm

November 4, 1915

Many will regret to hear that our mission church at Lakeshore was destroyed by the recent storm upon the coast. Its history reads like a novel. It was organized by only a few members, under the leadership of Rev. Buchanan, who, no doubt, was killed, as he mysteriously disappeared. They were greatly opposed and persecuted by the Roman Catholics.

After Mr. Buchanan’s death, the little band was like sheep without a shepherd until Brother McCardle and another minister started the work again and succeeded in securing several members among whom was a Roman Catholic who was baptized, regardless of the many threats made. Then again for several months they had no pastor, yet kept busy erecting them a house of worship. Our State Board came to their rescue by sending the writer to them as pastor and assisting them some upon their house of worship. We found only thirteen members, many of whom were children waiting our arrival. God alone knows our struggles yet within six months after arriving, our number had grown above thirty members, several being heads of Roman Catholic families. Owing to the combined opposition of the Roman Catholic priests and a Methodist minister who was recently killed by a train enroute there, the work has had but little growth since, save they have been holding the fort for God’s glory. Brother and Sister R. C. Crysell, who have done so much for the church, paid the balance of debt upon the building just before the storm. This they did by great sacrifice. Some of God’s most faithful on earth are among its members. Many of these have come into the Baptist church under great persecution. They occupy one of the greatest missionary fields on earth, being the only Baptist church on the L. & N. railroad east of New Orleans, for a distance of fifty miles, surrounded by Catholicism and the godless atmosphere of the coast. No place is in greater need, yet today their building lies flat upon the ground with their organ and seats broken, yet criticized no doubt by their godless and merciless persecutors.

Shall the Baptists of Mississippi see the good work they have so gloriously begun now stop and progress be hindered forever, or will they go at once to their rescue? No doubt God put it into the heart of our editor to make that noble appeal for Roman Catholic territory which he made just before the storm. Here is your opportunity! The land is before you. Will you possess it? To delay is half to fall! Although we are in another state, we desire to join God’s faithful in Mississippi who are upon the firing line to send a prayer meeting or Sunday School offering to those dear saints who are in so great need. However small the offering from each may be, if given by each church, we all shall share the victory even from the jaws of defeat.

Brother pastors and superintendents, our people will gladly respond if given an opportunity. Will we do it for Jesus’ sake? God grant we shall! God bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Carl M. O’Neal
Luverne, Alabama

Like then, we plan to rebuild and continue ministering and proclaiming the glorious gospel of God’s sovereign grace to the residence of the Mississippi gulf coast. With your help we can erect new church facilities that will expand the good work God accomplishes through the church at Lakeshore to his glory. You can send contributions to our new building fund to:

Lakeshore Baptist Church
6028 Lakeshore Road
Bay St. Louis, MS, 39520

Grace Partners

If you followed my blog before the storm, you might recall a couple of controversial entries concerning “Johnny Hunt on Election” and a follow up entitled “Johnny Hunt, Election, and Mathew 18.” Through those discussions I met Nathan White, a member of Grace Bible Church near Atlanta. When his pastor, Dave Stephenson, expressed an interest in their church helping a sister church hit hard by Katrina, Nathan pointed them to us.

Wasting no time, the church loaded a truck with much needed supplies and sent Greg London to Lakeshore. Greg has become my right hand in the recovery efforts. He has already made three trips and plans to be here again tomorrow morning with another team from Grace Bible Church.

Nathan and Pastor Dave came down last week. Nathan posted to his blog before coming down and then again after his Trip to Lakeshore. His buddy Colin accompanied the team and you can also read Colin’s account. They have several pictures, so check out their sites.

Sisters Baptist Church

Dan Hodges

Help has flooded in from all directions. Last week we had two church teams from Georgia, one from Texas, and another from Kansas. Later I will try to post in greater detail about these wonderful folks. This morning I’d like to mention one of our earliest contacts after the storm. Dan Hodges, former Director of Missions of the Washington Baptist Association of GA and current interim pastor of the Sisters Baptist Church of Sandersville GA traveled down to offer assistance. Hodges stressed to me the fact that he is not retired, just retreaded. 🙂

btw, Bro. Hodges found us via my long time online friend Richard Dickson, who serves as Interim Associate Pastor for Sisters Baptist Church. I know Richard through the SBC-D discussion group.

Sisters Baptist Church,

Hurricane Katrina hit Lakeshore Baptist Church hard. She took our church buildings and almost all of our church member’s homes. Even with such a devastating blow, we know that Christ proves himself stronger than any storm. The body of Christ has come to our aid in overwhelming ways. We especially thank God for the Sisters Baptist Church. Your financial assistance lightened our financial burden and enabled us to continue ministering in the greatest time of need. We praise God for Dan Hodges, Grady, and George who made the long trip down to meet us face to face and provide physical help even before most of our church family were able to return to the area. We believe your timely response and gifts magnified the Lord our Provider. Lakeshore Baptist Church extends our gratitude and thanks. Please remember us in prayer as we move forward to the glory of God.

Pastor Don A. Elbourne Jr.
Lakeshore Baptist Church
Lakeshore MS

Dan Hodges

Dan Hodges

In every high and stormy gale…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

by Ed­ward Mote, cir­ca 1834

The Ruler of the Waves

The good folks at Mout Zion Bible Church in Pensacola Florida, sent me a case of tracts and booklets to distribute along with our relief efforts at Lakeshore Baptist Church and to encourage our church members in the wake of hurricane Katrina. They included several copies of J. C. Ryle’s “The Ruler of the Waves.” Today I took the time to read through this encouraging booklet based on Mark 4:37-40. Let me quote just a part:

I have the privilege of being one of Christ’s ambassadors. In his name I can offer eternal life to any man, woman, or child who is willing to have it. In his name I do offer pardon, peace, grace, glory, to any son or daughter of Adam who reads this booklet. But I dare not offer that person worldly prosperity as a part and parcel of the gospel. I dare not offer him long life, an increased income, and freedom from pain. I dare not promise the man who takes up the cross and follows Christ, that in following him he shall never meet with a storm.

I know well that many do not like these terms. They would prefer having Christ and good health, Christ and plenty of money, Christ and no deaths in their family, Christ and no wearing cares, Christ and a perpetual morning without clouds. But they do not like Christ and the cross, Christ and tribulation, Christ and the conflict, Christ and the howling wind, Christ and the storm.

Is this the thought of your heart? Believe me, if it is, you are very wrong. Listen to me, and I will try to show you [that] you have much yet to learn.

How should you know who are true Christians, if following Christ was the way to be free from trouble? How should we discern the wheat from the chaff, if it were not for the winnowing of trial? How should we know whether men served Christ for his own sake or from selfish motives, if his service brought health and wealth with it as a matter of course? The winds of winter soon show us which of the trees are evergreen, and which are not. The storms of affliction and care are useful in the same way. They discover whose faith is real, and whose is nothing but profession and form.

How would the great work of sanctification go on in a man if he had no trial? Trouble is often the only fire which will burn away the dross that clings to our hearts. Trouble is the pruning-knife which the great Husbandman employs in order to make us fruitful in good works. The harvest of the Lord’s field is seldom ripened by sunshine only. It must go through its days of wind and rain and storm.

If you desire to serve Christ and be saved, I entreat you to take the Lord on his own terms. Make up your mind to meet with your share of crosses and sorrows, and then you will not be surprised. For want of understanding this, many seem to run well for a season, and then turn back, in disgust and are cast away.

If you profess to be a child of God, leave to the Lord Jesus to sanctify you in his own way. Rest satisfied that he never makes any mistakes. Be sure that he does all things well. The winds may howl around you, and the waters swell; but fear not. “He is leading you by the right way, that he may bring you to a city of habitation.” (Psalm 107:7).

Read the full tract: “The Ruler of the Waves.”

Florida Baptist Witness

The Florida Baptist Witness did a story on the great folks from Sawgrass Fellowship coming to help Lakeshore Baptist Church in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

SUNRISE (FBW)–A little bit can go a long way in a time of crisis according to Jan Deans, senior pastor at Sawgrass Fellowship in Sunrise.

After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the small church worked with their mother church, Coral Baptist in Coral Springs to send much-needed supplies to Lakeshore, Miss., 30 miles east of New Orleans.

Read the full story: Operation ‘Little Bit’ in small-town Mississippi forges partnership

We deeply appreciate the help Jan, Steve, and the other folks from SF brought. We look forward to their return visit in November.

btw, It looks like Sawgrass Fellowship just launched a new web site. Check it out.

Clean-up Crews Needed

Clean up after Katrina

I talked to some folks day before yesterday who came down to Lakeshore for the first time since the storm. They could not believe the utter devastation, the number of downed trees, the piles of rubble strewn everywhere they looked. The scene overwhelms the senses. Their jaw dropped when I reminded them that they were viewing the area after 3 1/2 weeks of clean-up. A lot has been done, but the clean up task remains monumental.

Chain Saw Work: If you remember the old game “pick up sticks” you will get some idea of what the landscape looks like in many areas of Lakeshore; only lots bigger. I couldn’t begin to estimate how many trees were snapped off or uprooted . We have several on the church grounds and countless others on church member’s property.

In addition to downed trees, we have a 100X40 foot wooded area of our church property we need clear cut. We will probably place a temporary building here so that we can keep the main portion of our land open for new construction.

Portable Saw Mill:
If anyone happens to have access to a portable saw mill and the expertise to operate it, we should be able to make lumber out of many of the trees. I do not know anything about this, but it seems to be something worth looking into.

Debris Removal: Tree limbs, household appliances, children’s toys, clothing, pieces of furniture, concrete blocks, and all manner of debris litter the landscape like grotesque monster confetti. All of this, large and small, needs to be removed. If you can operate a Bobcat, a tractor, a wheel barrel, or even a garden rake or broom, we could use you.

House Demolition: Most of the houses even partially left standing will need to be demolished. For example, you can see what the Fricki’s house looks like. Most of our member’s homes look like that or worse. As soon as the insurance companies give the OK, these houses will have to be torn down and hauled away.

Dirt Fill: Many trees were snapped and broken off at various heights, but many others came up completely by the roots leaving massive holes in the ground. After we haul off these roots systems, we will need to bring in lots of dirt fill. We will also need to build up the marshy areas of our church property to prepare for the new construction.

If you would like to schedule a trip down, we could use all the help we can get. Just tell me when you would like to come and what kind of work your group can do and we will point you in the right direction. Please put “clean up,” and perhaps the date you would like to come, in the subject line to help me keep things organized. You can contact me at elbourne@lakeshorebaptist.net.

Lakeshore on CNN

Lakeshore on CNN

CNN featured Lakeshore MS Tuesday night in a piece called “Forgotten Town.” Gary Tuchman narrates:

You’ve probably never heard of the tiny town of Lakeshore Mississippi, but you are unlikely to forget about it now; because no place was hit harder by hurricane Katrina. The homes in this coastal town have simply been blown away. Block after block of nothingness. Piles of rubble covering the memories of family lives…

People from here are still missing. Prayers for them are being offered behind a steeple that was recovered from a decimated church.

Tuchman interviews a few folks and shows just a small glimpse of the devastation. The camera pans across some of the destruction and then to our blue tarp make-shift shelter and our salvaged steeple. You can watch the video on the CNN web site.

Chris Bostick

My friend, Chris Bostick, finally reported in after the storm. He is OK, but his house is gone. Chris’s grandfather, Ed, and I were good friends. After Ed died Chris and I began building a similar relationship. God has been working in his life in various ways. Chris had requested baptism. We were in the process of discussing the supernatural change God performs in our hearts through regeneration, what it means to be a believer, and the forgiveness of sin Christ provides through his work on the cross. I pray that God will continue to work in his life to His glory.

I love Chris and his family. I hope they do not mind me posting a picture of where his grandma’s house used to be. The big front porch looked out over the water. Katrina’s monster storm surge took the entire house. Not even a single board from the structure could be found.

Mrs. Bobbi's house

I took this picture standing in Mrs. Bobbi’s front yard looking up at the slab for the front porch.

Mrs. Bobbi's house

Standing on the porch, looking where the house used to be you can see the slab of Ed’s big work shed off to the right. Chris’s house used to be somewhere back there to the left.

Mrs. Bobbi's house

Sitting on the front porch looking out to the water.