Mo. Baptist Disaster Relief aids Louisiana congregation
Helps build new church
following Katrina damage
NEW ORLEANS – Some of the first video images of damaged churches in New Orleans included the on-the-scene interview with John Galey. With the air filtration mask strapped to his face, he pointed out the water line, the debris and the mold that stained the walls of the church he pastors, Poydras Baptist Church.
After months of rebuilding and two weeks shy of the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Poydras Baptist Church dedicated their Worship Center, Aug. 11 in a service celebrating God’s provision and honoring their supporters from across the nation.
“We are here to celebrate what God has done and how He has seen fit to bring us back,” Galey said.
The St. Bernard Parish church, as well as the members’ homes, sustained extensive damage due to floodwater. Attendance has returned to approximately two-thirds its pre-Katrina numbers.
“What a joy it has been to have had a small part in what God is doing here,” Danny Decker, Men’s Missions and Ministry Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention, said in his address to the congregation. “God has taken the ugliness of the storm and used it for His glory.”
“The Lord continues to demonstrate the power of working through His people for His purposes. Without the assistance of the Missouri Baptist Convention and others, there would not be a Gospel light in this part of New Orleans,” John L. Yeats, Louisiana Baptist Convention director of communications and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention said. “The cooperative effort of God’s people building and witnessing are raising portions of this city out of the brackish backwaters to give them a clear vision of the hope that can be found in Christ.”
In the wake of Katrina, Missouri Baptist Convention “adopted” the parish in a concentrated recovery and rebuilding effort. Missouri continues to provide resources and volunteer laborers to the area.
In his charge to the congregation, Decker said, “Remember that you are in a marathon race, not a sprint. You ministered before Katrina and you’ve ministered since, but it’s not over.”
The church honored the Missouri Baptist Convention’s contribution to their recovery by presenting Decker with a plaque engraved with Romans 8:37, “We are more than conquerors.” In turn, Decker presented the church with a framed presentation of Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in Christ Jesus.”
Included in the long list of contributors and supporters recognized by Galey was the Carroll-Saline Association of Missouri who donated 200 chairs for the worship center. The gift totaled an amount equal to 25 percent of the association’s annual budget. The association is comprised primarily of small churches, Decker said.
Poydras’ second primary supporter, First Baptist Church of Miramesa, Calif., was recognized for their faithfulness. Messages in a pre-recorded greeting from Miramesa volunteers included, “Thank you for letting us be a part of your rebuilding,” and “our blessing was greater than yours.”
Other supporters from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas were recognized. Galey thanked First Baptist Church of Kenner for providing for all the sheetrock needed for rebuilding.
Joe McKeever, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, said, “I’ll not soon forget the first time I walked around this church following the hurricane. A huge redfish lay rotting on the lawn where it had washed up. But you would never know it today! It is pristine and gleaming. We are thrilled that this good church is ‘back.’ Like all our churches, they are suffering numerically since the storm and need our prayers. But their presence as a fully operating church and the dedication of this rebuilt sanctuary today are such witnesses to the community.”
Decker’s closing remarks issued a challenge to the congregation to remain faithful to the God who had sustained them through the storm.
“There will be more storms like Katrina, though perhaps not in the physical sense,” Decker said. “But you can live passionately for Christ and live with a sense of urgency for the moment by staying focused on Jesus. Never take your eyes off Him.” (Marilyn Stewart is a New Orleans correspondent for the Louisiana Baptist Convention Communications Team.)