Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Katrina Changed My Life!

This morning I am reflecting on Hurricane Katrina and how it affected my life in a most amazing way! I was listening to some conversation about New Orleans and the comment was made that the people there probably still have their hand out. When I heard this comment it hurt my heart. You see I have personally gotten to know and love some of these people and they have changed my life forever. My story with New Orleans began over 20 years ago when I went to Mardi Gras on an outreach with Scott Hinkle. That's when my life with God really took off! Getting out of the church and on the street with people that He wants to love has made me love Him all the more. I have since been to Mardi Gras many times. Back to Hurricane Katrina. When it hit, our city was privileged to have several thousand refugees come here for shelter. The night they came my Sister Carrie and daughter-in-law Lacey and I headed out to a Midnight training with the Red Cross. I could not believe that after all the seeds I had sown into New Orleans that the people were coming to me! I was so excited. In the next few months we worked hard at the shelter but we also got to know some of these precious people. One lady that I will never forget was Charlene. Charlene had quite a story to tell. She was a single mother of a huge family all who were grown except for a teenage son. Her house made it through the Hurricane so all her family came to her house. There were over 20 of them. Then the levy broke. They escaped out of the house with children floating on mattresses. They made it to the bridge where sniper shootings were taking place and then on to the Superdome where they heard rapes going on during the night and then they were bussed to Lubbock. Charlene stood out because she was still grateful even after all that they had been through. She was trusting God. Charlene and her family were moved into some government housing apartments and many of them began to get jobs. Carrie and I would go and pick up anyone who would go to church with us. During that time 17 of Charlene's family members got saved. Five of them were teenagers. Her daughter and son-in-law got saved and their marriage was put back together. Charlene was seeing so many answers to prayer in her life. It was so fun to go and visit with her. This experience gave so much more to me than I could ever have given to them! One day I was in Wal-Mart with Carrie and saw a fellow Christian who began to complain about these people coming to our city and eating up our resources. Carrie handled her graciously, and got us out of the conversation. I think that she could see that I was about to beat up this old religious lady and it wouldn't be pretty! Later I realized that you can't have love and compassion on people if you are not willing to be involved with them. Charlene went with me on a ladies retreat to New Mexico, she was like a kid! Now, you must know that before this Hurricane Charlene had never been out of New Orleans and she was 50 years old! She was anxious about going to the mountains but I reassured her that it would be ok. On the ladies retreat God really ministered to her. She got up in front of about 600 women to share her testimony of how good God had been to her and she also thanked me, her new best friend, Miss Connie. I cried as I watched this strong woman who had been removed from everything she knew, show her gratitude to God. (I told her later that if we were going to be best friends she couldn't call me Miss Connie anymore!) A few weeks later Charlene and her entire family were moved to Houston because the people in the apartments were threatening them. You see they didn't like these people coming and getting resources that they thought they should be getting. I was so sad! Charlene and her family were only part of my life for about 4 months but they have made a lasting impact on me. I cannot wait to reconnect with them in heaven!!! So the Bible is true when it says God will repay you if you help the poor.

Prov 19:17
If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—
and he will repay you!
All of the pictures are of Charlene's family who gave their lives to the Lord.

If you notice there are no qualifiers on this scripture. They don't have to be deserving or jump through our hoops. It doesn't even matter if they have their hands out! We are doing if for the Lord if we do it for them. My Momma has always told me that no one can take from you what you give to them. According to this scripture you are not even giving to them, you are giving to the Lord and He is deserving of us giving our all!

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