New Orleans

We recently returned from our first trip to New Orleans. Nine of us went including three from our Silver Spring ministry. What we thought would be our annual February missions trip turned out to be quite an eye-opening, life-changing experience.

New Orleans was as if we had been let into a world of deep suffering that God has long known about but the news and press have long left behind. As many of you know, hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late 2005 and flooded approximately 80% of the city leaving deep scars of devastation all around.

Coming up on 6 years later, the loss still permeates the air as you see house after house dilapidated and boarded up, if there even at all. Most school systems and medical facilities have been shut down with no signs of reopening and gangs, drugs, guns, and fighting pit bulls fill the streets leaving you with this sense of imminent danger – not to mention, the dark undercurrent of voodoo, a prevalent and widely celebrated practice there.

What many people do not know is that New Orleans was not much different before the storm (of course minus all of the structural damage done to the land). It was still one of the leading cities in crime, murders and other demoralizing statistics. However, by the mercy of God, Katrina has seemed to awaken the hearts of the people from a numbed stupor to a desperate, albeit confused, God-consciousness. As we walked the streets and talked with people, we found a unique tenderness and openness to any sign of love and care. Due to a lack of teaching about the grace message and the love of God, many asked us the question, “Why does God hate us?” spoken from such wounds that only God Himself can heal.

Yet there is a flicker inside each heart wondering if there is still hope in God and it was as if the prayers and cries of the people had reached heaven long enough and God was sending us in His stead to proclaim the Good News of His ultimate care for each one of them. One woman in the church there said that she had been praying so many years for God to send someone that when she heard we were coming, she cried all night. God promises that no smoking flax will be quenched and we sense the momentum of God's desire for New Orleans at this time. Many are ready to lift their heads to God and see what He has to say.

During our time there, we hit the streets nearly every day knocking on doors in the neighborhood to let people know that God still loves them and that the church is open and there for them. We found out that many of them had thought that the church had never reopened after Katrina hit, as many churches had not.We held services every night and at our fish fry on Friday night, our visitors outnumbered our church members! The pastor said that he had not seen the church so alive and with so many visitors in over 25 years. It was really a great time of rejoicing. Our pastor there is quite a man of God, prepared by manifold trials and deep suffering. He has the clear message of the grace and love of God. Now, all he needs is feet to help him hit the streets and reach the people. So please pray that God would send laborers. The harvest is truly ripe and the people are wide open during this space of grace. We plan to return to New Orleans for another trip in the second week of May.

If you'd like to listen to some of the messages spoken by La Tascha Brown during our women's meetings, click here and look for the series titled, What Christ Thinks About Women.