Compassion for church in Louisiana grows
ARNOLD—Part of the State Evangelism Conference Jan. 28-29 at First Baptist Church here was designed to connect Missouri Baptists more with a partnership area in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.
A special love offering was taken Tuesday night to support the rebuilding of First Baptist Church, Chalmette, in St. Bernard Parish, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A little over $3,600 was collected, and it will go toward the work of 11 projects that are needed to make the church whole.
Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Interim Executive Director David Tolliver was encouraged by the response of Missouri Baptist pastors who are stepping up to meet the need. Guy Thomas, president of the Missouri Baptist Pastors’ Conference and pastor of First Baptist Church, Princeton, announced that he will be taking a group April 1 to Chalmette, and Mid-Lakes Baptist Association in Bolivar will be doing the same in February.
“So we now have two mission trips that I’ve just learned about to New Orleans to help finish the Chalmette First Baptist Church, and I’m very pleased about that,” Tolliver said.
In 2006, the MBC Executive Board voted to enter into a partnership with St. Bernard Parish (New Orleans). Since then hundreds of MBC churches have sent thousands of volunteers to rebuild. Two Missouri Baptists, Gary and Marilyn Morrow, moved to Chalmette to oversee the labor going into restoring First Chalmette, but the work has yet to be finished, which made the appeal given at the State Evangelism Conference all the more important.
John Dee Jeffries, pastor of First Chalmette, already has communicated his thankfulness for the support that Missouri Baptists have provided. Recently he received a card with a note from 8-year-old Allison Elfrink, who attends Fruitland Community Church, SBC, Jackson. She wrote that she had “a lot of toys and with this $14 I would just buy another one. I know it is not much but no matter what it will be spent in a better way. One more thing. I am a Christian.”
Jeffries was so touched that he and the other church leaders decided to take the $14 and place it in the “Allison Elfrink Kid’s Place Fund,” which is going to build a special room where children can have music, puppet shows, videos, and plays. Missouri Baptists are being encouraged to give $14 to this fund by writing the full name of the fund on the envelope and check and mailing it to First Baptist Church, 2010 W. Beaugaard St., Chalmette, La., 70043.
As of Jan. 8, Jeffries reported that the fund “has multiplied more than 10 times, with several hundreds of dollars in the fund in less than two weeks, with the bulk of that coming from Missouri.”
The closing speaker for the State Evangelism Conference was Fred Luter, displaced pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. Both he and Jeffries are among a group of New Orleans pastors who know by deep experience the meaning of waiting on the Lord.
“There are still members of our church congregation that I have not seen in two years,” Luter said. “This has been a very difficult time for me.”