Recollections of Katrina (by Brad Carlson)
Here are a few of my recollections of our recent trip to Kiln, Mississippi. What a life-changing experience! I can only recommend that each of you reading these articles and looking at these pictures find a way to become involved, as Christ will change you as well as the people you may strive to help. This is where the rubber meets the road. And if not from this storm, perhaps a storm that you will see in the lives of your friends, neighbors, your family, or perhaps another opportunity altogether!
What a blessing to be part of a church that desires to fulfill the Great Commission. I recall feeling cheated when learning about the Bettingers heading south right after Katrina hit. I was available and more than willing to help, yet was out of the loop in knowing how to meet the needs of the people left hurting from such a disaster. When it was announced on a certain Wednesday, while standing in choir risers that Northridge intended to send people to help, I said "Here am I, God, send me". I immediately turned to the person next to me and said, "I'm going". My only regret was that it took us six weeks to get there. But with a church the size of Northridge, things don't always happen quickly, but as we found, the need is still relevant, and will be for some time to come. If you feel the call to help, don't let your impatience on having to be there "right-now" (like mine) affect you. It will be years until this need is over.
I'm not particularly sure how our team was chosen to go, but after spending nine days with them, can only say that it came from the Lord. Each member fulfilled a special calling, and it was a joy to see them join in, as well as the transformation that occurred in each life. This was not a Northridge phenomenon, but with people & organizations from all over the country sending volunteers to help. Our team melded with so many others, becoming one in the Spirit. While there, we heard the testimony of at least one person of another team who accepted the Lord while being there, and many others who experienced life-change as well. And we personally witnessed the conversion of Lance, who had been drawn to our team by the gentle singing of Heidi, praising the Lord all day long! (There are several stories of Lance you can read about on this site)
As a work-team leader, it was so great to see people step up to the plate, and work more passionately than they probably had ever done before. Grueling environments and hours took their toll on us physically and emotionally, but the Lord held us up and gave the strength to do what none of us could have, on our own. We had young people who became Clydesdales. We had business executives who swallowed their pride, and became Clydesdales. We had older members who forgot about themselves, and became Clydesdales. We were able to do the job, praise the Lord through all of it, love on the people we came in contact with and strengthen His Kingdom, because of His power! All Power and Honor and Glory to Him, who sits upon the throne! We look forward to knowing in heaven the impact all Northridge teams have/will have through this ministry.
The Gulf-region has been affected in ways that are hard to imagine. News stories can't describe it, nor can our pictures. Katrina has become the great equalizer. One finds quickly that people without electric-power may never have had that to begin with. Others, with great wealth do not now either, nor do they have the financial foundation left to be whom they once were. It's downright weird to see formerly wealthy families living in tents on former estates, knowing that they are wiped-out, as insurance will cover little more than $5,000 of their loss. Yet the consensus from ones we talked to seem to feel that this is now "Holy Ground". So much of the economy of the land was based upon casinos and other vices. These were all wiped away, and many feel that it was God purging the land, and bringing people back to Himself.
Without a doubt, the fields are ripe for harvest. John 4:35 states that equivocally. We may well indeed be in the end-times. Our experiences show that it is true now, more than ever before in the Gulf region RIGHT NOW. Could you be one to take up the yoke? Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you could do for this region, your neighbors, friends or family. I believe the ramifications are far more widespread than just the Gulf-region. Let Him do it through YOU!