The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox.
“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Katrina hit the Gulf Coast with a vengeance in August of 2005, but the cleanup and the rebuilding continues. That’s why I was delighted to be able to go down with 11 others in the winter of 2007 to put in a few days of labor. We left at 4:30 a.m.on Monday, and arrived in Kiln, Mississippi at 5:30 p.m., CST. The twelve in our team included seven who were 21 years old or younger, and five married men. The three young ladies in our group slept in the Toddler’s Room (“not potty trained”) of the church, and the men were in another Toddler’s Room (“potty trained”). We definitely got some mileage out of that. The church we stayed in, Bayou Talla Fellowship, has opened her doors to Samaritan’s Purse and basically said, “All that we have is yours.” For 1 1/2 years, the church has been the hub of operations for a huge Katrina relief effort. The front and side yard look like a mobile home park, and nearly every room of the church building is filled with volunteers who have come to lend their backs to the effort. I found myself thinking, “If disaster struck our city, would our church be as gracious?” I believe we would, as would many other churches in the area, but I was challenged by this self-sacrificing group in Kiln.
Every day started with breakfast at 6 a.m., prepared by a team of volunteers who got to the church by 4:30 to cook eggs and bacon, pancakes and toast, grits and coffee. Another team of volunteers would arrive at 4:00 p.m. to prepare a big supper for us. You know what is a crying shame? It is a sin, I think, to go on a mission trip and gain weight!
After breakfast and announcements, there would be a brief devotional, led by one of the SP staffers or a volunteer. The recurring message to us was, “You are not here to build houses, but to share the love of Jesus.” Then all the teams would collect their tools and head out. I was working with six others from Antioch on a project 45 minutes away. The homeowner started building his own house last August, and it was ready for insulation and Sheetrock. I learned a lot about how to put in insulation, how to measure and cut the “rock,” and how to apologize when I did both the wrong way. Repeatedly. By day three, I was at the point where I didn’t have to be re-trained after each break.
One of the side benefits of going to a place like deep south Mississippi is the plethora of wild life. We had heard about the brown recluse and the black widow spider, the Copperhead and the water moccasin, the mosquitoes (that obviously had not been told that it is winter). But what I had my sights set on was the good old American alligator. During lunch the first day, I asked the homeowner where the closest ones were. “’Bout 800 yards thataway, in the pond.” I struck off down the road with a song in my heart and a vision of running from a 14-foot gator chasing me up the bank! Didn’t see a one.
We got back Saturday, grateful for the opportunity we had that week to help meet a need, and to meet part of our family of faith.
Prayer: “Thank You, Lord, that there are opportunities all around to help those who have needs. Help me to be faithful.”
Action: Study Matthew 25:31-46 and see how you can help the hungry, the stranger, the sick, or the prisoner in your own community.