Headlines from First Thoughts

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Innkeepers for Gustav

When Jesus described love of neighbor like a Good Samaritan taking care of a victim, he also mentioned an innkeeper who received the victim while the Samaritan went away. FBC Trentham Hall has been temporary quarters for over 93 victims of Hurrcane Gustav. Three years ago, the victims of Katrina washed ashore to the mountains of East Tennessee. This past week, we've seen the new faces of disaster victims. Each has a unique story. All have been brought together not because of neighborhood or ethnicity but because they share in a common disaster.

David is a Katrina survivor. He lives near Tulane University. Grace is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Her face tells the story of many disasters. She celebrates her 60th birthday on September 17. Don moved from Dallas to New Orleans following Katrina to work in the construction industry. He and a roommate live near the Superdome in a four-plex, a two story duplex. Three Guatemalan men are part of the group. They live in New Orleans supporting families back home in Central America. While here, they have contacted relatives to let them know they are safe.

Thanks to our Disaster Response Team, the generosity and hospitality of volunteers, Carol McEntyre's work as Community Minister, and the willingness of First Baptist, we have been able to serve as the Innkeeper this week for these and many others. Other volunteers from First Baptist and Cedar Springs have been collecting supplies for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and other victims of the hurricane.

We are not the only ones responding. Already teams from other churches are en route to the affected areas. Their role of clean out and clean up will be just as significant. This need is not the only one FBC is addressing. Many of the same volunteers who have worked throughout the weekend will redirect energies a few blocks away to the Baptist Campus Ministry at UT. There they will find some adrenalin and help in the ongoing renovation efforts.

For this week, however, Gustav has brought together people whose paths will likely never cross again. Candidly, life would never bring this collection together for reasons that are painfully obvious. Each one, however, has been part of a living parable. This is what neighbors do to demonstrate love and to illustrate what Jesus had in mind when he said the "Kingdom of God is near."

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