It rarely gets this cold on the Gulf Coast but I never could seem to get warm on Tuesday- at least on the outside. I spent most of that day with Jim Ingram who is an elder at the Central Church of Christ in Pascagoula, MS.
My good friend, John Dobbs, who is the preaching minister (one of the many hats he wears) at Central had invited me to participate in their GodThirst Campaign. This is their latest effort to reach out to the hundreds of people they have assisted through their hurricane relief ministry. I was there to lead a discussion class for two nights, but John also gave me the opportunity to accompany them on their daytime visits and on Tuesday I was paired with Jim.
Almost without fail when Jim mentioned Central a big smile and glow would light up the face of the person to whom we were speaking. They would mention receiving a washer and dryer or furniture or assistance of another type. Many invited us in and recalled their personal Katrina survival story. Most were excited to be back in their homes even though all of the damage was not repaired. Others still remained in their FEMA trailers. Some were almost ready to move back in their homes, but a few had no home left in which to move. Seventeen months after Katrina turned their world upside down; some still had not been able to find it upright again.
It was a day of mixed emotions. I saw joy, gladness, thankfulness, hope and relief. But I also witnessed desperation, uncertainty, sadness and need. In only one city block this would all be easily illustrated. On one corner would be a newly built home. Next door there would be an abandoned one. Then on the next lot a whirlwind of activity would center on another home being rebuilt. Across the street a small FEMA trailer would sit next to an empty concrete slab.
Seeing that is when I would really feel the chill of the winter wind.
So much remains to be done in this Mississippi coastal town and the Central Church of Christ continues to help see that it gets done. They are still reaching out through their relief ministries- providing material needs as well as offering spiritual answers to a city still awash in the struggles of the aftermath of that great storm.
I never did get warm that day- on the outside. But what I witnessed in my visits with Jim and with my two nights at the Central church is still keeping me warm. What a reception they gave my message!
Central is making a huge difference in their community and God is- by far- not finished with them yet.
On a cold day in Pascagoula I experienced the welcoming warmth of the God’s kingdom.